December 9th, 2015

7 Travel Trends for 2016

Travel is always changing. Here are seven of the biggest up-and-coming travel trends to look out for in 2016. 

Travel, like pretty much every other aspect of life, is subject to changing trends. With 2016 just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at which of those trends will be relevant in the coming year. From exciting new hotspots to innovations in how and why people travel, it’s a big and changing world of wanderlust out there. Find out a few of the next big things coming up in travel over the next twelve months.

Off-Limits No More

Travelers are flocking to locales once considered off-limits due to travel restrictions. Myanmar is a great example of this phenomenon: In 2012, the United States restored diplomatic relations with the former nation of Burma, leading to a flock of American tourism. Euromonitor International predicts American tourism to Myanmar will increase 71 percent by 2016. Cool season runs from October to February, which is when most travelers will find this country most enjoyable. Another big name on the list of formerly restricted travel destinations is Cuba. With restrictions for educational groups being eased this year, Havana could soon become a happening hotspot. Make plans to visit here in April, when the weather is warm but the rains have not yet arrived.

All About the Adventure

People travel for lots of reasons — amazing art, great food, and exploring local culture, to name a few. But it seems that more and more, adventure is the biggest motivation for travelers to hit the road. According to a survey conducted at the 2015 TBEX North America, 69 percent of travel bloggers cite adventure as their most sought-after travel experience. Prepare to hear less about lazy beach trips and more about hiking, skiing, surfing, and other adrenaline-pumping travel activities.

The Big Easy

As far as American destinations go, New Orleans is going to be big in 2016. Almost 25 percent of travel bloggers at TBEX named the Big Easy as the hottest U.S. stopover, beating out New York City, Portland, and Austin. The amazing food and unique, fascinating local culture have always lured travelers to New Orleans, but it seems that in the coming year, even more people will head to Louisiana to experience this historic southern city. Better yet? The weather’s always good, so plan your visit around one of the city’s remarkable festivals — Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest top most travelers’ lists.

Round Trip to Reykjavik?

Make summer plans to visit Iceland, when the country is really at its best. Thirteen percent of bloggers at TBEX ranked Iceland as their most-desired hotspot for 2016, coming in higher than China, Japan, New Zealand, and Cuba. The otherworldly beauty of its landscapes, as well as its pristine, untouched nature and quintessentially wonderful Scandinavian culture. Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is not only the country’s largest city and a popular tourist destination, but it’s also the northernmost capital city in the world.

Blended Leisure and Business Travel

2016 will also see the rise of the “bleisure,” or combined business and leisure, trip. An increasing number of business travelers are choosing to extend their stays at the head or foot of the trips to do some exploring on their own; some choose to bring their families along. These “bleisure” travelers tend to take advantage of all aspects of the travel experience, even arriving at airports early to hang out in swanky airline lounges. Many people credit millennials and their increased focus on work/life balance with the “bleisure” trend, which is seen worldwide.

Wi-Fi Wins / It’s All About the Mobile

Today’s traveler is more connected than ever, thanks to the practical omnipresence of Wi-Fi everywhere they go. And that constant connection means more travelers in 2016 will take to the Internet to blog about their travels or update social media throughout their trips, acting somewhat as brand ambassadors for the places they visit. Increasingly, destinations — like cities’ tourism boards — are getting in on the act by creating mobile apps to help enhance visitor experiences. One thing is for sure: Mobile will continue to boom in the next year.

Nigeria: The New African Hotspot

African travel has been on the rise for several years now as many economies throughout the continent are on the way up. Nigeria in particular is emerging as an African hotspot, in large part because it’s home to the country’s burgeoning film industry, known as “Nollywood.” Visitors are drawn to filming locations and places where they can potentially rub elbows with celebrities. Gorgeous luxury hotels have been built throughout the country, beckoning a class of visitor not previously seen in Nigeria. With a welcoming tropical climate, most visitors will enjoy the country’s dry season, which runs from November through March.

Your turn, readers. What travel trends for 2016 are revving your engine? Let us know in the comments below. 

Shannon O’Donnell is a long-term traveler on the road since 2008; she travels slowly and supports grassroots tourism along the way. She is an acclaimed travel speaker and works with universities and businesses all over the U.S. to talk about supporting developing countries.

by Shannon ODonnell

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008; she travels slowly and supports grassroots tourism along the way. She is an acclaimed travel speaker and works with universities and businesses all over the U.S. to talk about supporting developing countries.

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