New Year, New Decade, New Vacations
Leisure travel in 2020 is different from even a decade ago. New technologies have shaped the way we plan trips, the travel itself, and how we enjoy ourselves at our chosen destinations. Meanwhile, shifting sensibilities have changed our expectations and what we hope to take away from our travels.
We're pleased to present many useful suggestions in the next few pages to make your travel more fun and comfortable in 2020 and beyond. The adage, "Enjoy the journey" is becoming the mantra for many travelers, who are opting for slower transportation methods such as trains. Learn about other recent developments in our travel trends section.
You'll also find a helpful collection of resources featuring travel tips, including one with ideas for cutting costs. We've also compiled a list of some of the best tech gadgets to take on your journey, such as a waterproof camera that's perfect for the beach.
If you're already bored with today's technology, check out our vision of the travel future with robots and virtual reality helping you get food, learn about your location, and even try a new sport. Finally, we've included some of our favorite travel apps, like the one that gives you instant exchange rates.
Get ready to embark on new adventures in the new year!
QUICK TIP: If you travel frequently, consider signing up for TSA Pre-check (tsa.gov/precheck) to get through security faster.
Get on Board With These 2020 Travel Trends
The way people travel is impacted by many factors, including social media, popular culture, the kinds of experiences people want to have, and environmental concerns. The trends below are expected to influence travel choices in 2020:
"Second City" Travel
To save money and avoid crowds, travelers are opting to visit destinations a little off the beaten path, known as "second cities." For example, instead of San Francisco, they might go to San Jose, which features similar restaurant quality and seaside views but at a lower cost.
Taking It Slow
What's the rush? Travelers are slowing down and enjoying the journey by taking slower modes of transportation such as trains. In addition to having the opportunity to see more sights, journeys that don't involve a plane lessen environmental impact.
Inspired by others' beautiful travel shots, Instagram (instagram.com) users are planning their own vacations to the same locations. Online destination searches are great, but photos and videos of real people having a fabulous time in a particular place are even better advertisements.
Time or money may be limited, but that doesn't have to mean cutting out travel. Mini trips are a great way to recharge batteries, even if it's just for a couple of days. Remember, a weekend with no soccer games, grocery trips, or yard work offers plenty of time to enjoy fun activities somewhere else.
Basically, ecotourism is traveling with consciousness about the environment and the people who live in the destination location. That could mean anything from reusing your sheets and towels for the duration of your hotel stay (to reduce laundering's electricity and power usage) to donating to local conservation causes and supporting local businesses.
Let your DNA Guide Your Travel
With the growing use of DNA testing services, more people than ever know where their ancestors lived. Visiting these places can be inspiring and teach you more about your cultural roots. Here are a few tips for making the most of such a trip:
- If it's an unfamiliar location, look into booking your trip with a tour operator.
- Check out genealogy records or use an online service like Ancestry (ancestry.com) to connect with local family members.
- Do you want to see where your ancestors lived, worked, went to school, or worshiped? Or maybe all of the above? Plan ahead for specific places you want to tour.
- Use the opportunity to fill in missing pieces about your family history. Local librarians, township operators, and church staff can be a big help.
- Leave room in your suitcase for family treasures. Your distant relatives may have some heirlooms to hand down.
First on the Itinerary is Reading These Expert Travel Tips
Truly great vacations don't just happen. They usually involve a lot of research and preparation. Visit the sites below to find out what the experts recommend you do to maximize travel comfort and convenience.
General Tips for Any Trip
Christy and Scott have been traveling the world together since 2006, and their goal is to inspire others to live an adventurous life. This list includes Christy's 25 best travel tips. Each item is important to remember but easy to forget, like extra camera batteries and sunscreen.
Ideas for Specific Destinations
For years, Fodor's has been offering useful, detailed information about just about anywhere you might want to visit. Check out the site for articles like "15 Things You Need to Know Before You Go to the Caribbean," or "32 Ultimate Things to Do in Rome."
Advice for Traveling With Kids
Aussie "serial travel addicts" Caz and Craig share their tips for traveling with children. Learn how they pack smart, save money, and make great memories. High-level tips include planning together, understanding each person's needs, and adjusting expectations to thrive in each situation.
Practical Packing Guide
Follow these suggestions to ensure you have what you need on the plane, when you arrive, and throughout your trip. For example, pack the outfit you'll wear first on top, so you can get right out to the beach the moment you arrive.
Cut Travel Costs
Here are seven great tips for saving money when you travel. Where you stay, when you book, what you eat, and how you use travel rewards can make a big difference. For example, stay in a less touristy neighborhood to reduce your lodging costs.
TSA Now Requires REAL ID to Fly
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the organization that oversees security at airports. You've no doubt become acquainted with them as you've taken off your shoes and put all your belongings into plastic bins at airport security checkpoints.
Here's an important TSA message if you're planning to fly this year: Beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, state-issued enhanced driver's license, or another acceptable form of ID (such as a passport) to fly within the United States.
In most states, REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked with a gold or black star at the top of the card. However, a few states have issued compliant IDs without a star (Hawaii, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah). So it's best to confirm with your state driver's license agency directly if you don't see a star and find out how to get a REAL ID.
QUICK TIP: Travel-specific clothing is a little more expensive but offers handy features like hidden pockets and wrinkle resistance.
Cool Tech Gadgets for Your Next Trip
Technology can help with many aspects of travel, including keeping track of your luggage, entertaining the kids, capturing memories, and even getting a good night's sleep. Consider taking one or more of these great gadgets along on your next trip.
Whether you're searching for a good lunch place or making reservations for your next destination, you need a smart device that works. A depleted battery can cost you valuable vacation time as you look for a place to charge up, so bring along a portable wireless charger to "rejuice" on the go.
Snapping photos at the beach should be fun but trying to keep your camera safe from waves and sand can make it more of a chore. The answer? A waterproof camera. These models are resistant in pool, ocean, and beach environments, meaning you can splash around all you want and still get great shots.
Whether you're checking your bag or taking it with you on the plane, there's always a chance it could get misplaced or stolen. No matter what happens to your bag, an app-enabled luggage tracker tells you where it is at all times.
Noise Cancelling Earbuds
In addition to enabling you to listen to all your favorite music and podcasts, wireless earbuds can act as a buffer between you and the world when you want to tune out. Handy for crying babies and airplane noise, these gadgets are also comfortable enough to wear while you sleep.
Even the best vacations need to include a little down time, especially when you travel with kids. While you're resting up at the hotel between hours at your favorite amusement park, you can catch up on your favorite Netflix shows with a streaming stick.
QUICK TIP: The Kindle Oasis E-reader is pricey but includes several vacation-perfect features like easy one-handed operation and a long-lasting battery.
How Technology is Revolutionizing Today's Travel
This isn't your grandfather's vacation anymore. Technology has taken travel to a whole new place. Here are a few examples:
- Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), you can now get personalized recommendations for destinations, activities, and amenities from the websites you use.
- Apps allow us to see different parts of the world or get a detailed look at a hotel room or cruise ship cabin using virtual reality (VR) features.
- Internet of Things (IoT) sensors plus an app on your phone equals easy control over things like the thermostat or TV in your hotel room.
- You can even travel without cash by using services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Revolut (revolut.com) enables you to change currencies and use virtual cards to book services.
What's more, artificially intelligent robots, often equipped with speech recognition technology, are currently being used in place of information points by chains like Hilton.
Looking Down the Road to the Future
The way we travel has changed tremendously in recent decades. Stricter security means an added step before you get on a plane, traveler's checks are a thing of the past, and the internet has automated just about every step of the process. Here we look at what the next few years might have in store.
At Alibaba's "future hotel" in Hangzhou, you check in and open your room door using facial recognition technology. Mobile robots serve you food and you can consult with the digital concierge to arrange day trips, get transportation, or find a great place to eat. You can expect more robots to be in use as the years go by.
Virtual reality (VR) enables layered experiences, such as a surrounding visual experience along with moving theater seats. VR could also make it possible to try an adventure like hang-gliding, virtually "visit" a remote location, or try out winter sports like skiing with no snow required (and no risk of broken bones).
Augmented reality (AR) combines the real and the virtual, such as superimposing historical details about a landmark through the use of a smartphone app. It can also be used to provide information about museum exhibits or supplement menu listings in restaurants.
Digital Detox Vacations
Finally, all this technology means overload for some people and that means digital detox vacations will become more popular. Destinations include cabins, hotels, or resorts where digital devices aren't allowed or where there's no internet service. Be sure to grab a paperback at the airport!
FAST FACT: Solo travel is becoming increasingly popular, with 50 percent of those who vacation doing so alone once per year.
Airplane Cabins Will Get Smarter in Next 10 Years
If you're like many plane travelers, you've at one point — after waiting in a long line, battling to find a place for your bag, and squeezing into your seat — looked around and thought, "There's got to be a better way." There is, and you'll see more elements of it in the next 10 years. Here are some of the highlights of the Airbus "self-aware aircraft cabin of 2030."
- Load-sensitive overhead storage bins will tell you whether there's room for your bag.
- Prebooking for overhead bins will work with smart tags to match the right bag to the right spot.
- Seats will also have sensors to indicate which are empty, have unbuckled seatbelts, or have tray tables down so the in-flight crew can be more efficient with safety instructions.
- Galleys will gather data to determine the most popular food items and improve the menu selection accordingly.
- Advanced live weather reporting will result in less in-flight turbulence Want to take a look at the aircraft cabin of the future?
Check out the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=loWML-pIsaU.
Cruise Through Travel Planning Sites to Make Reservations
The first step for any successful trip is planning. Use the following sites to search for your perfect lodging, flight, cruise, car, or activity. Some of them also offer ways to get great deals.
You can use Priceline to do searches for hotels, flights, or car rentals separately, but you can get better deals if you use the Trip Builder (bundle) feature. Express Deals is another way to get everything you need on a budget. Enter the amenities you want, and the site will find the perfect match.
Orbitz is a reliable travel booking site that's been around for years. The intuitive interface makes it easy to use. In addition to the standard flights + hotels + car rentals, you'll find search options for activities and cruises.
This site is a little different in that it takes information from other sites to find you the best possible prices. It includes some unique features, such as Trip Huddle where you can plan a group trip and Trips, which gives you a place to store and access all your travel details, even offline.
The space-sharing service combines the best of both worlds: staying at a hotel and staying at someone's house. Book your lodging as you would a hotel but feel welcomed by a friendly host and a cozy home. As a bonus, hosts are usually experts on their locations.
Pack Up & Go
Ready for something different? This site will plan a three-day getaway for you to…well, that's the catch. You don't know where you're going until the last minute. Don't worry; you can choose your budget, dates, and travel preferences and interests.
QUICK TIP: If you're flying, download your airline's app for up-to-the-minute flight info and easy boarding passes.
You'll Appreciate These Travel Apps
Apps help you get through your daily life and they can also make travel easier. Those listed here are tried-and-true resources and are available for both Android and iOS.
Enables you to make travel plans on the fly or up to two weeks in advance.
Shows you the best public transportation route to use to get from point A to point B.
Use it to download a map of the place you'll be visiting.
Helps you easily determine current exchange rates, so you don't overpay.
Perfect for traveling foodies, Zomato gives you food recommendations on the go.
Guides by Lonely Planet
Like a "pocket concierge," these guides help you find places to see, shop, and play.
This app lets you submit travel information ahead of time so you can breeze through customs when you return home.