What’s trending in travel for 2018?

There are some summer holiday traditions that are guaranteed: taking down the Christmas decorations, recovering from accidental sunburn, noting New Year resolutions — these are the perennials of life. In travel, it comes down to predictions of the “top destinations for this year”.

Here’s a summation of where to make you next travel plans for 2018.

According to Virtuoso
The upmarket travel group Virtuoso lists Italy, USA, Canada, Japan, and Sri Lanka as the most popular destinations for Australians.

Japan and Sri Lanka are growing in popularity whereas the USA under President Trump appears to be cooling off. Other emerging destinations are Norway, Portugal, and Cuba. Cuba may retain its “frozen in time” appeal longer than expected as the US President has cracked down on individual US citizen visits again.

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Italian destinations such as Sicily continue to be popular places to visit

Iceland is a tricky one. It is certainly in the middle of a tourism boom — its 340,000 residents hosted more than 2.3 million visitors in 2017. However, if you go far enough from Reykjavik, you can still experience delightful isolation.

In this age of multigenerational travel, Australian families are drawn to Fiji — as always — then Italy, Thailand, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Los Angeles. The prime adventure destination is Antarctica followed by NZ, the Galápagos Islands, South Africa, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, and Botswana.

According to Lonely Planet
The iconic guidebook company is quite specific on where to go in 2018.

While Sri Lanka is booming, Jaffna, in what was once the civil war-torn north of the island, has been largely overlooked. It has beaches and offshore islands, impressive Hindu and Tamil architecture and culture, and — of course — great food.

Jordan is a haven of calm in the chaos of the Middle East but tourism is way down so there are bargains to be found. As well as the classic sights of Petra and the Dead Sea, the 650 km Jordan Trail — extending the length of the country — opened last year.

South Korea will host the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, with the opening ceremony taking place on February 9. Mexico City is the World Design Capital for 2018.

2018 will also observe a number of important centenaries.

It is the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on July 18, 1918, with celebrations planned all over South Africa throughout the year.

This year also marks the centenary of the end of World War I and Belgium, which has been holding commemorative events since 2014, will conclude the series on November 11, the anniversary of the armistice.

Throughout 2018, the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will each celebrate the centenary of their independence with many events.

Lonely Planet lists the top 10 regions to visit in 2018 as:

  • Belfast and the Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
  • Alaska, USA
  • Julian Alps, Slovenia
  • Languedoc-Roussillon, France
  • Kii Peninsula, Japan
  • Aeolian Islands, Italy
  • Southern USA
  • Lahaul & Spiti, India
  • Bahia, Brazil
  • Los Haitises National Park, Dominican Republic

According to Rough Guides
The 10 destinations that Rough Guides has selected are quite diverse. In the top spot is Newcastle, England “for a vibrant nightlife, and an art and cultural scene that is all relatively budget-friendly”.

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The art and cultural hub of Newcastle makes the city a hot spot in the UK

April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, so Rough Guides suggests following the US Civil Rights Trail that takes you to important places in his life journey.

Malawi, Wales, Sierra Leone, and Chile are selected because of their remarkable attractions. Valletta, Malta is the European Capital of Culture in 2018 with some 400 events planned, and Russia will host the 21st FIFA World Cup. Cuba is selected for the Trump reversal discussed earlier, and 2018 is New Orleans tricentennial with the city revitalised 13 years after Hurricane Katrina.

According to WYZA
What would we add to those lists?

Abu Dhabi: The newly opened Louvre plus other upcoming museums and structures planned for the Saadiyat Cultural District looks set to convert the Gulf state from an Etihad Airways stopover to a must-see destination.

Uzbekistan: Once the heart of the Silk Road, the land of exotic cities like Bukhara and Samarkand is both affordable and safe, now offering better access through the Trans-Asian Railway between Beijing and Europe.

Egypt: Political and economic problems have plagued the ancient nation in recent times, and tourism has plummeted. But travellers are returning and the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum near the Great Pyramids is likely to provide further impetus.

Rwanda: This nation has strong appeal to Australians seeking gorillas and a vibrant society unlike any other in Africa.

Bangkok: This destination is the most visited city in the world with 21 million visitors in 2016. It shows no sign of slowing down.

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An installation of over 50,000 slender stems with frosted-glass spheres radiate across the desert of Uluru

Uluru: For more than a year, the Field of Lights art installation at Uluru has delighted visitors. It was set to end in March 2018 but the season has been extended, giving those who thought they’d missed out on making the journey to the Red Centre another opportunity to see it.

Is there an overall trend in travel?
Among WYZA readers, there is great enthusiasm for walking holidays — perhaps as people try to close the activity rings on their new Apple watches. That may be a weekend of walks in the Grampians or Blue Mountains, or trekking the whole 890 km of the Camino de Santiago.

However, several Australian destinations rate highly on the lists of overseas visitors, so while home may get a bit crowded, you may just want to join the bandwagon and visit your neighbouring state.

What destinations top your list as must-visits?

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Image credit: (feature) Elzbieta Sekowska / Shutterstock.com