Lonely Planet Writer

8 travel predictions on how we will travel in 2019

Every year brings new travel trends, and as we enter the last months of 2018, our thoughts are turning to what will shape and inspire travel experiences in 2019. With that in mind, travel booking website, Booking.com has revealed its eight travel predictions for 2019, based on research from 21,500 travellers across 29 countries.

Plastic not-so-fantastic

Visitors cleaning up the canal in Amsterdam. Image by Plastic Whale

A majority of global travellers (86%) say they would be willing to spend some time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay, with 37% willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction, an experience offered by Amsterdam’s Plastic Whale company. Millennials and Gen Z travellers will look for sustainable experiences, while accommodation providers will seek to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials. Booking.com expects to see the emergence of new travel start-ups and individual enterprises committed to shaping a new future for global destinations.

Conscious travel

Revellers in fancy dress take part in the Gay Pride Parade in Madrid. Image: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

2019 will see a more conscious traveller who will ask questions around social, political and environmental issues in potential travel destinations before making a decision on where to visit. Travellers will also want to ensure that they can travel in safety, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Platforms such as Destination Pride provide travellers with a ranking of how LGBT+ friendly their chosen travel destination is, while destinations and organisations will increasingly step up their support for women travelling alone.

The experience curator

Dive into this giant yellow ball pit at Union Square
The pop-up ball pit at San Francisco’s Color Factory. Image by: Color Factory

Travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018’s major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further. Almost two thirds of travellers (60%) value experiences higher than material possessions, and 2019 will see travellers packing in many different and authentic experiences. In 2019, 42% of travellers plan to visit a destination that makes them feel like a child again, to ease the burden of stressful adult life. Booking.com predicts that properties will add more childlike and playful touches such as ball pits and bouncy castles for adults.

Maximizing the micro

Group of people standing in queue at boarding gate. Focus on female hand holding suitcase handle. Busy Airport line and que
Half of global travellers report they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019. Image by izusek

Over half of global travellers plan to take more weekend trips in 2019. It’s a year that’s predicted to be all about made-to-measure, bite-sized travel with more curated travel itineraries squeezed into shorter time-frames. Less is more as travellers are offered a more bespoke experience, and the micro-trip will become more varied and tailored, making shorter trips more personal and rewarding. Booking.com predicts a continued surge in desire to stay in unique and remarkable types of accommodation, even on the shortest of getaways.

Easy does it

This robot is here to serve you. Image by YOTEL Boston

In 2019, “ease” will be the gold standard by which tech travel innovations will be judged. The winning innovations will be those that can seamlessly offer these technologies as a practical solution to travellers. Think keyless room access with your phone, personalised travel tips or a robotic concierge who can communicate with guests in their mother tongue – one Boston hotel already has a robot as a staff member. Travellers are enthusiastic about real-time luggage tracking through a mobile app (57%) and having a single app for all their planning, booking and travel needs (57%). 2019 will also see more tech developed for use pre-trip at research stage.

The appren-trip

French volunteer Audrey Lenormand holds ten-month-old Soumba at the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre in Somoria, Guinea. Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

2019 will see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new while away, as well as an increase in volunteering and skills-based vacations across generations. In particular, Generation Z will increasingly scrutinise the value of expensive college degrees over and against the life skills and practical learning that can be gained from travel. This is important as experiences beyond the classroom and office cubicle continue to make for attractive potential employees in many companies’ eyes.

Watch this space – uncharted territories

The undersea king guest suite at the Conrad. Image by (c) 2018 Conrad Hotels & Resorts

In 2019 and beyond, Booking.com predicts that we will continue to push the extreme limits of where travel will take us and even the prospect of space tourism won’t seem such a giant leap. Four in ten travellers are excited about the prospect of space travel in the future and 38% are open to considering the experience themselves. Until space travel becomes a reality, this brave new mentality will also translate to a desire to explore uncharted territories on earth. For example, six in ten travellers want to stay in accommodation under the sea, such as these new undersea hotel rooms in the Maldives.

Up close and personal

Travellers want someone or something to do the hard work and make travel recommendations for them. Image by Tom Werner/Getty Images

2019 looks set to see rapid developments in the way travel information is consumed and used. A third of travellers want someone or something to do the hard work and make travel recommendations for them, and 52% are excited about tech travel innovations, such as a digital tour guides bringing them a truly bespoke experience. As importance deepens on personal, individual recommendations that unlock the most out of every trip, Booking.com expects producers of rich and professional travel content to find even better ways of distributing it through the use of artificial intelligence.