As a travel writer, I have access to many people in the travel industry, conducting regular interview with key folks in the business from hotel executives to tour operators to travel media and bloggers who are constantly on trips around the world. This gives me a good look into what the travel trends and hot destinations are for any given year. I also attended the New York Times Travel show in January 2017 and attended many talks. Here are the travel trends and key spots I see for 2017.
Top Travel Destinations for 2017
Overall, many in the travel industry are noticing that Americans are staying closer to home this year. With uncertainty about customs and getting in and out of the country, it’s led many just to choose an in-country destination for the 2017 travels.
Nashville, Tennessee, is definitely a hot spot right now in the U.S. 21c Museum Hotels will be opening a property there this spring, and it has a burgeoning dining scene with numerous restaurants opening their doors in Music City. And, of course, you can’t beat the music — it’s also the Ryman Auditorium’s 125th anniversary. I’ve always felt Nashville was a safe, clean, fun city to visit, especially for country music fans. Many publications have named Nashville to their lists of places to visit in 2017, including AFAR magazine, Men’s Journal and Travel + Leisure.
U.S. National Parks
Though the Centennial celebration for the U.S. National Parks is over, the buzz has continued. The National Parks are more popular than ever, breaking records for visitors. Choose to go with an experienced adventure tour operator like Austin Adventures, known for their multi-sport tours for adults and families in the National Parks, which can really show you the best portions of any park and get you more of a behind-the-scenes tour. Plus, with crowding an issue, these companies know the most beautiful, but off-the-radar spots the general public is unaware of.
Our family will be headed to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in Utah this spring break. These parks were full to capacity last year and recommend visitors try to come in seasons other than the summer when visitors are at their peak. We also just visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park over President’s Day Weekend, which is America’s visited popular National Park and within a day’s drive of a good bit of the U.S. population.
A little further away from home, but yet still so easy to get to is Canada and it’s a big year for this country in 2017. Much like the U.S. National Parks celebrated 100 years in 2016, Canada and its National Parks, which include the gorgeous Banff and Jasper National Parks, will be celebrating 150 years. All of their parks will offer free admission in celebration. It’s definitely on our Bucket List to see some of the gorgeous Canadian countryside. Lonely Planet and many other outlets have also named Canada a top country to visit in 2017.
Greenland & Iceland
While Iceland has certainly been a trending destination for several years now, Greenland is beginning to enter the scene. Companies like Wilderness Travel are taking guests on adventures through this island that is mostly ice, helping them navigate a country largely without roads, hike glaciers and see unusual wildlife like muskox. There are also some great deals to travel to Iceland right now, especially on discount airline WOW Air — sometimes as low as $69 one-way from the U.S. with flights just a couple hours from the U.S. East Coast.
Travel Trends 2017
The Adventure Travel Trade Association last fall coined the phrase “transformative travel,” distinguishing this as a form of traveling that lets the traveler have a direct impact on an area they are visiting. Usually, this means not just donating funds, but actively assisting in some conservation or community efforts.
In the Realm of the Desert Lion – This amazing trip takes just six guests into the heart of Namibia to study with a man, Dr. Flip Stander, who has been tracking the elusive desert lion for decades alone in the desert. They can follow along to help him alert local villages when the lion is coming around, so they can bring their animals out of harm’s way. Before his research, the lions would kill some of these animals and the villagers would then sometimes kill the lion. He is helping them live together in harmony. Because the company donates a portion of the funds for the trip directly to the research, they have already been able to fully fund TWO seasons of research.
Giraffe Conservation and Safari – Did you know the giraffe is in danger of extinction? A researcher in Namibia, Dr. Julian Fennessy, is working to help stop the loss of the giraffe population by studying this creature, which little is known about. Guests on the trip not only enjoy a safari but get to help radio-collar a sedated giraffe for further study. Funds are also donated to help further Dr. Fennessy’s research. More about Dr. Fennessy’s important research.
Annapurna Snow Leopard Camera Trap Expedition – Legends of the Wild is an entire tour company dedicated to providing travelers with opportunities to help with wildlife conservation. In December 2017, they will lead a trip to the Himalayas to help Tashi Ghale, a field biologist, in his work to capture the endangered snow leopard (often called the “mountain ghost” because it is hard to spot), on cameras he has set up in numerous areas. Travelers will help collect and download the data to determine the animals movement and behavior patterns.
Wellness continues to grow in importance for today’s traveler, especially among the millennial age group. They want to maintain their health and fitness routine while traveling just like they do at home. Many hotels and companies are beginning to cater to that need.
EVEN Hotels, for example, is an entire hotel focused around helping you stay “even” with your health while traveling. Rooms feature workout zones with streaming workout videos, healthy grab and go options (Note: I got addicted to their smoothies! In fact, I’d like one right now!), stand up desks and stability balls in rooms, along with bedding designed for maximum rest and recovery. I have stayed at two of the properties in Manhattan and highly recommend both!
Other hotel groups like Hilton and Westin have added fitness-themed rooms that guests may reserve when booking one of their hotels. Rooms may have a stationary bike, elliptical machine or yoga mat to make workouts convenient and easy.
Geckos Adventures, an adventure travel company for those ages 18-29, has added a fitness consultant service free for any guests on one of their trips. Guests can email the consultant where they are traveling and their regular fitness routine to get customized suggestions for workouts in their destination. It might be climbing the steps of the local temple, flipping tires in town or taking a scenic bike ride.
Want more? Here are the 25 best places to visit in 2018.
- My Favorite Hotels: EVEN Times Square, An Innovative, Wellness-Themed New York City Hotel
- How to Easily Fly a Family of Four to Europe Nearly Free
- Two Fun Itineraries in Georgia: Blairsville and Milledgeville
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