2017 was all about goat yoga, celeb-filled airline safety videos and the Scandi-cool concept of hygge. So what fads, fashions and fresh ideas will 2018 bring?
We’ve consulted our crystal ball to predict the stories that might just hit the headlines in the year ahead. Some are more feasible than others, but then again, the truth often turns out to be stranger than fiction…
Who knew nature could be as transfixing as a tablet screen? © Smit / Shutterstock
Digi detox 2.0
The wellness trend – think yoga, turmeric lattes and coconut-oil everything – will dial up the zen this year, offering a refuge for people who want to escape the treadmill of 24-hour news and the kerfuffle of everyday life. Expert-guided forest bathing will soon be the coolest way to spend your weekend, while silent spas (no talking!) will soothe frazzled urbanites. Historic pilgrimages will also see a surge in popularity as people seek to reconnect with their spiritual side. All of these activities will be free from the beeps and buzzes of your wifi-connected devices, naturally.
Reality check: If health and fitness trends encourage people to lead more balanced lives, so be it. But we don’t need to pay others in order to stop talking and take a walk in the woods. Nature is precious and our increasingly hectic lifestyles leave us craving fresh air and quiet spaces, so we expect to see people taking more time away from their screens, surrounded by green – designer lycra strictly optional.
Porto, Portugal's second city is gaining popularity – but have you ever heard of nearby Braga? © Rob van Esch / Shutterstock
Second cities in the spotlight
Travel isn’t about showing off or competing with your social media circle. At least, that’s what people say… but who doesn’t love a flurry of hearts and comments of ‘you went WHERE?’ when you share a snap from somewhere obscure? Paris, New York, London – been there, done that. It’s time to reconsult the map. In the year ahead, lesser-known cities and regions will see an influx of Instagrammers looking for offbeat and envy-inducing angles.
Reality check: ‘Overtourism’ is the travel media buzzword of late, with certain big-hitter cities struggling to cope with the crowds. So visiting second – or third, or fourth – cities is essential if we want to ease the strain on the planet’s most popular locations. It’s a win-win: you reduce the impact on superstar cities while exploring somewhere off the beaten track and relatively, if not completely, crowd-free.
Need a break but can't go away for real? Pop to Peru on your lunch break © wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock
Never mind exploring your own country, what about never leaving your own home? Virtual reality technology will only become cheaper and more powerful in 2018, raising the bar significantly for armchair travellers; simply slip on a headset, load the destination du jour and spend the day – or a whole weekend – completely immersed in an exotic location.
Deluxe packages will sync up to smart-home technology, adjusting the temperature to match your virtual experience, as well as providing sensory add-ons such as scented candles and meal deliveries tailored to your ‘trip’.
Reality check: Simulations won’t stop globetrotters reaching for their passports – in fact, it may help boost bookings. Travel industry giants such as Marriott and Thomas Cook are already using VR to entice customers, while developments in live-streaming and 360° video mean your social media friends and followers could soon be logging on to join your journey, digitally.
Speed dating by the sea anyone? © NicoElNino / Shutterstock
Travel flings get serious
Tinder is already a well-established travel tool, doubling as a provider of instant (and, if you’re lucky, attractive) local tour guides. But other businesses want in on the action. Inspired by TV shows like Love Island and The Bachelor, expect to see the launch of hotels, resorts and even entire tropical islands geared towards helping you find your soulmate.
Reality check: Technology and matchmaking is a key part of dating these days, but you simply can’t beat a serendipitous meeting. Who knows? You could meet Mr/Mrs Right on a plane or train, at the beach bar or during a boogie-boarding session; you might lock eyes in the Louvre, on the shores of Lake Malawi or at the tables in Las Vegas – the point is, you’ll be more open to chance encounters when on the road, but you won’t spot a potential beau if your attention’s fixed on your phone.
Hovering cameras will drone on into 2018 and beyond © Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock
Drones, drones, drones
Forget selfie sticks. The award for most irritating (yet irresistible) traveller accessory now goes to drones, which, shrinking in size and price, will soon be seen buzzing around a site near you in view-blocking, photo-spoiling droves.
Each and every selfie-loving tech nerd and narcissist will be pursued by a drone as they traverse dramatic landscapes on a mission to capture the most FOMO-worthy clip. If Instagram already encroaches upon your precious travel time, prepare for a shiny new – and newly affordable – distraction.
Reality check: It’s already illegal to use a drone near the Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge and Angkor Wat to name just a few – and as drones become more popular more restrictions are bound to crop up, with authorities citing concerns such as general safety, aviation issues, wildlife and national security. The faff factor will also slow drones’ journey into the mainstream – until the tech and maintenance simplify even further, that is.
Leave the planning to someone else when you book with a surprise travel specialist © Ditty_about_summer / Shutterstock
More mystery trips
Surprise trips have enjoyed the spotlight in 2017, as the curious and carefree relinquished control in exchange for logistics-free lead ups and – hopefully – delightful getaways in unexpected destinations.
But things will turn up a notch this year as companies compete for the shock-factor crown; options will include not knowing when you’re going or which friends you’ll be travelling with – heck, there’ll even be a ‘kidnap experience’, where you’ll be mock-captured at any given moment, hustled away in a burlap sack to the middle of nowhere hundreds of miles from home and left for… days.
Reality check: While the novelty of not having to plan a trip may well seduce travellers for years to come, more extreme incarnations will likely fizzle out. The truth is, self-organised trips (whether totally independent or with the help of a travel agent) are delightful enough, and pre-trip preparations are often part of the thrill.
Could pre-ordered food from your favourite restaurant be the in-flight meal of the future? © jannoon028 / Shutterstock
Convenient carry-on meals
As budget airlines go long-haul and free in-flight meals become a thing of the past, meal delivery services will expand to offer travellers an alternative to the overpriced, uninspiring food found on board. The likes of Seamless, Ubereats and Deliveroo will develop fly-friendly menus available for pick-up at your designated gate and innovative airlines will even install self-catering kitchens (pay-per-use, naturally).
Reality check: Mealtimes are a military operation for flight attendants at the best of times, so heating non-standard meals for app-happy passengers – or worse, letting them near a cabin-compatible microwave – is a recipe for chaos. Cold dinners could still be winners, but DIY picnics will still be a better option for budget travellers.
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