In the travel industry, trends begin as a glint, grow into a glimmer and morph into a star that can be seen near and far. To find next year’s leading lights we consulted industry experts, scoured headlines, walked on the ground, and flew many miles to bring you the top travel trends for 2018. Read on for a closer look at our key discoveries…
Gourmet Food Markets are Unstoppable
Would you like a Michelin-starred meal with your groceries? In 2017 trend-setting cities such as Los Angeles and New York saw a bevy of upscale food halls tempting gourmet palates. And this growing interest in taste-making markets is only broadening. Blending beautiful design, specialty counters, boutique shopping, chic wine bars and high-end eateries, these one-stop-shop bazaars—many touting country-specific provisions—take going out for groceries to a new level.
Originals such as the Italy-themed Eataly added L.A. to its ever-expanding empire, while newcomers like the French-themed Le District continued to woo greater numbers of francophiles with their éclairs, Bordeaux wines, and specialty mustards, while Lisbon’s Time Out Market continues to attract visitors (with plans to expand to other cities very soon). In 2018, expect to see this trend heat up with more cuisine-focused markets opening such as the 35,000-square-foot Hudson Yards Food Hall (billed as a Spanish Eataly) headed by leading chefs José Andrés and the Adrià brothers (behind El Bulli’s famous molecular gastronomy) in New York’s Midtown. With Italy, France and Spain represented, what country do you think is the next muse in the high-end food hall mania?
Vacation Pics Reach New Heights
With the number of drones inundating the photography field, so is the expectation to create high-watt aerial shots of your vacation. This type of capture, coupled with telling the “Instagram version” of your vacation, have caused the once-normal and imperfect vacation photo to evolve into something that’s highly filtered. Today the pressure for a polished reel is real. With these shifts in the style and gear one must use to achieve the perfect travel shot, Cynthia Drescher, Contributing Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, sees vacation photography and video soaring to new heights in 2018 (read: If you want to hop on the Insta-perfect bandwagon, enlist professionals).
Early hints of the drone photo/video trend, which she saw at select Colorado ski hills in 2015, began with “drone zones” on their slopes. “Skiers and snowboarders paid a few hundred dollars to have camera-equipped drones grab aerial footage of their run, and the footage edited into a short video,” she recalls. A few years and more legislations later, Drescher sees the “potential privacy and safety issues that resort areas face when guests bring their own drones” as a key reason why tour operators, resort destinations, and travel photographers (you can find one through your Luxury Retreats Concierge) are taking matters into their own hands. This gives travelers safe options for what they want: The option to buy packages promising a picture-perfect set of sky-high shots and video.
Responsible Tourism is on the Rise
Another tipping point Drescher sees in travel is individual nations asking travelers to sign pledges to respect their surroundings. Even though acting like a courteous guest in the places we visit might seem obvious, it appears some travelers need a little extra encouragement. Drescher first got wind of the responsible tourism oath in November 2017 when Lonely Planet broke news of the “Palau Pledge,” a compulsory and signed oath for tourists entering the Pacific-island nation, ensuring visitors will “act in a responsible way to protect its natural and cultural heritage for future generations.”
The pledge did not surprise her. Drescher, who crisscrosses the globe nonstop in her role as a travel editor, has seen these strict entry procedures elsewhere in locales like Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region., where, she remembers, “Visitors are relayed tourism rules as specific as not dropping litter anywhere (even a tiny piece of cheese from a sandwich has to be picked up).” While she sees Palau’s oath as the “the first pen-to-paper contract covering an entire country,” Drescher is making the prediction that other small and environmentally rich or fragile destinations—think: Hawaii, Caribbean islands, Costa Rica, Mauritius—will adopt similar pledges in short order. As far as we’re concerned, anything that reminds visitors of the irreplaceable nature of an ecosystem is a worthwhile pledge.
Airplanes Go Green
Over the past few years, the airline industry has started to make strong headway into greener aviation. Notable examples are the development of more fuel-efficient planes—we’re looking at you, Airbus A350—and the use of biofuel in commercial flight by airlines such as KLM and Virgin Atlantic. As technology, innovation and investment into sustainable fuel increases, one of the most exciting advances currently gaining ground is turning household trash into a travel conduit.
Enter Cathay Pacific Airways. In an effort to meet their goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, the Hong Kong-based carrier made a first-of-its-kind equity investment in a garbage-based fuel developer called Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. As a world pioneer in the conversion of solid municipal waste into sustainable aviation fuel, the Reno-based company’s renewable fuel has the same molecules as fossil fuel, but is cleaner, lower in carbon, and comes with a cheaper price tag. At its core, Fulcrum’s process removes waste from the ground and upcycles it. Remember the scene in Back to the Future Part II when Doc reaches into a trash can, picks out a banana peel and throws it into the DeLorean’s flux capacitor? It looks like this version of the future is imminent.
Love Art, Will Travel
Including an art gallery or museum in an urban itinerary has always been a cultured way to connect with a destination’s soul. In 2018 expect to see art steal the vacation show (instead of play a supporting role). With the late-2017 opening of the 50-building Louvre Abu Dhabi and Cape Town’s 80-gallery Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the global interest art as a serious reason to travel is on the increase.
Within North America, another gallery worth traveling for is the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, Canada. Overseeing the 56,000-square-foot ode to West Coast works (some created before European contact), Acting Director Brianna Beacom recognizes visitors’ greater interest in art. “Since opening,” she observed “the museum has experienced an increasing number of visitors who are here specifically to immerse themselves in an authentic arts and culture experience,” confirming that art-smart travels are on the uptick.