As 2019 draws to a close, the predictions for the new year are coming in thick and fast. Lonely Planet’s picks for best places to travel in 2020? Naturally. Cheap places to fly, and safe places to visit? Check, and check. Insights from homeshare platforms, tour operators, and booking sites? Check, check, and check again. But before the new decade kicks in, Google is taking a look back, divulging the wide range of topics that caught the public eye with its 2019 Year in Search.
The tech behemoth looked at its top trending queries in the US during the past 12 months, and travel-wise, it looks like people have been dreaming of beautiful beaches, big-city lights, and getting back to nature. Here are the ten “trip to...” searches that saw big traffic spikes this year when compared to last – the destinations that most piqued the collective interest.
Between the white-sand beaches and the otherworldly turquoise waters, not to mention the superb diving and snorkeling, this remote island nation in the Indian Ocean receives no shortage of well-heeled honeymooners and globetrotters, thanks to its 100-plus private-island resorts. These days, island-hopping backpackers and budget-minded travelers are also coming out to enjoy the Maldives’ underwater show – and plenty of rest and relaxation, too.
As the setting for this year’s Rugby World Cup and next year’s summer Olympic games, Japan has made scads of year-end lists, and now there’s another to add to the pile. From the busy streets of Tokyo to the old-school appeal of the country’s traditional culture to the siren song of its food-oriented underbelly, this easy-to-navigate volcanic archipelago prompted lots of interest in 2019.
For lazy beach days and adventurous outings, Bora Bora is the stuff of Endless Summer–style reveries, from its sandy islets to its rainforest-covered peaks. Located in the South Pacific, this French Polynesian island is another popular choice with the newlyweds, but it’s also a luxurious option for anyone who enjoys sand, surf, and quiet nights.
It’ll always be a gambler’s paradise, but Las Vegas isn’t just for high-rollers anymore. With over-the-top stage shows and legendary entertainers in residence, sprawling high-end hotels and seedy budget accommodations, stunning desert vistas and hot desert heat, plus eateries from pretty much any celebrity chef imaginable, this party city has it going on 24-7.
Mexico is the 15th-largest country in the world, and it has the diversity – of people, topography, food, and culture – to prove it. Whether it’s kicking back on the 10,000 km of Pacific and Caribbean coastlines or hiking dormant volcanoes, visiting pre-Hispanic archaeological ruins or exploring colonial-era towns, taking art classes in San Miguel de Allende or gallery-hopping, shopping, and hitting the taquerias and fine-dining establishments of Mexico City, America’s neighbor to the south is a major draw.
Alaska is a study in extremes – extreme peaks, extreme wildlife, and yes, extreme winters – and millions of people flock to its shores each year for the unique experiences it offers. From fat bears to massive humpbacks, Alaska Native-owned small-ship lines to brand-new expedition cruises, pristine glaciers and jaw-dropping national parks, the 49th state is a nature lover’s bucket-list destination.
Mardi Gras gets the lion’s share of the attention, but there’s more to New Orleans than that hedonistic festival would have you to believe – though it is emblematic of the city’s dedication to good food, free-flowing libations, and live music galore. The birthplace of jazz takes its place in music history seriously – performance venues abound, and it’s even home to a national park celebrating the genre – but its Caribbean, African, and European–influenced cuisine is an equally intriguing incentive to book a trip.
It’s served as inspiration for creative types since time immemorial, and the Golden State’s appeal continues unabated to this very day. From fairytale-worthy redwood forests up north to welcoming beaches down south, and the winding, scenic Highway 1 to the jam-packed freeways of Los Angeles, California is the place for peak-season produce, world-renowned wines, and all the small-batch breweries a craft-beer fan could want.
As one of the world’s top urban destinations, an epicenter of art, culture, dining, and shopping, New York City is a perennial favorite. But outside of the five boroughs, there’s even more to see and do: wine-tasting in the Finger Lakes, hiking in the Catskills, paddling in the Adirondacks, and seeing the spectacular Niagara Falls, a natural wonder and a long-standing tourist draw – deservedly so, too.
One of Lonely Planet’s top countries to visit in 2020, Costa Rica and its pura vida mentality provide a welcome respite from the pressures of the rat race. Home to yoga retreats, surf camps, and adventurous activities of all stripes, rainforests and marine habitats packed with wildlife (it’s one of the most biodiverse countries in the world), and a commitment to farm-to-table fare that rivals California’s, this outdoor oasis is a sustainably-minded beacon in the middle of Central America.