(Thursday 31 October) With new travel trends taking shape all the time and a host of new adventurous itineraries in the pipeline, 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year for travellers. From tackling overtourism and discovering non-traditional cruises to putting pets at the forefront and addressing the industry’s environmental impact, this week we round-up the industry experts’ top travel forecasts for the coming year.

1. Adventurous families
Families are increasingly stepping out of their comfort zone and setting their sights on far-flung destinations to foster a sense of appreciation for the various cultures of the world. Growth in this sector is coming from out-there experiences such as safaris and motorhome trips, as reported by Kuoni, and from countries like Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico, as highlighted by Intrepid.

2. Avoiding the crowds
Travellers are starting to actively combat overtourism, with Booking.com reporting that 51% of their clients claim they’d be willing to swap their destination for a lesser-known alterative. The focus is not only on avoiding crowds, but also on employing local guides — who can steer travellers to local spots — and visiting out of season to inject money into the area more consistently.

3. Searching for authenticity
Spinning off from the previous trend, InsideAsia Tours and Virtuoso report a recent surge in travellers craving authentic experiences and real adventures. Increasingly, travellers want to get beneath the surface and take part in physical activities: trekking between destinations and resting in local homestays is an example of this sort of itinerary.

4. The rise of conscious travellers
The travel industry is under increasing pressure to address its environmental impact. According to Intrepid’s Adventure Index, 58% of the 2,020 survey respondents who’ve been overseas for leisure believe sustainability is a fairly or very important factor when travelling. Elsewhere, TTC highlights a growing awareness around travelling with respect for indigenous cultures.

5. The non-linear itinerary
A new interest in complex itineraries is being recorded across the industry. Kuoni and Ffestiniog Travel, for example, are both seeing a greater demand for tailor-made trips, particularly to destinations that require specialist knowledge; Scott Dunn reports a surge in multi-destination tours; while the Virtuoso Luxe Report highlights the rise of country-coupling, which sees travellers tick off multiple countries even on shorter trips.

6. Tasty trips
Booking.com predicts the coming year will see many travellers putting culinary ambitions at the forefront in an effort to snag that all-important restaurant reservation; for many, where and when they travel will depend on whether they can enjoy highly coveted cuisine. Hidden gems are the spots most likely to appeal to these food tourists, with 71% of travellers saying that eating locally sourced produce is important to them when on a trip.

7. Cruising with a twist
Non-traditional cruises are gaining momentum. Scott Dunn reports that guests are increasingly seeking voyages that engage with local communities or partake in conservation efforts. Similarly, Intrepid has been seeing a growing interest in small-ship cruising: its adventure cruising bookings are up 82% on last year, making it the fastest-growing themed trip the company offers.

8. Pet-centric vacations
The new year is set to bring about a new era in pet vacations. Booking.com’s travel predictions show that 42% of travellers would choose destinations based on whether they can take pets along, while 49% are willing to pay more for pet-friendly accommodations. Similarly, Canine Cottages reports a surge in bookings from UK customers looking for dog-friendly getaways — up 27% year-on-year and up 81% compared with two years ago.

9. Friendmoons and group getaways
Increasingly, brides and grooms are escaping with their close friends. According to CV Villas, these ‘friendmoons’ allow couples to extend the wedding celebrations and often take place in luxurious villas with additional features such as private chefs. More generally, Virtuoso reports that group getaways are on the rise across generational groups.

10. Tech travel
It seems likely that 2020 will see travellers put key aspect of their decision-making process even more firmly in the hands of technology, with tech-led recommendations connecting travellers to new experiences. In fact, according to Booking.com, 59% of travellers want tech to offer them surprising options, while 46% will use an app to book activities in real time while travelling.