The Future of Travel: 7 Trends for 2016
This is the time of year where people tend to spend a lot of time reflecting on the past (hello, “Top ___ of 2015” lists) and thinking about the future (hello, 2016 resolutions).
Hopefully you logged a few miles and acquired some new stamps in your passport over the past year—and hopefully your plans for the new year involve more of the same.
But don’t expect your 2016 travels to look the same as previous trips you’ve taken. The travel industry is evolving in a big way, as is the entire traveler experience. We’ve taken a peek into our crystal ball to let you know what’s trending in the world of travel for 2016.
Travel Like a Local
Travelers are increasingly seeking to stray from typical tourist experiences in favor of experiencing a place like a local. Packaged experiences and overcrowded tourist attractions just aren’t cutting it anymore.
Luckily, social media and apps are making it easier than ever to connect to and learn from locals. Take UrbanBuddy: this app matches you to a vetted local in your destination of choice, allowing you to chat with them to discover the best hole-in-the-wall bar or to learn about what there is to do on a Tuesday evening. UrbanBuddy is continuing to expand to different cities around the globe, so plan your travels accordingly.
A Personalized Experience
Gone are the days of old-school bus tours where everyone experienced the Exact. Same. Thing. These days, travelers are seeking out something totally unique that is tailored to their own interests.
The easiest way to get a personalized experience is through communication and by sharing information. If you let service providers—hotels, restaurants, tour groups, etc.—know what kind of experience you’re looking for, they’re more likely to be able to meet your expectations or point you in the right direction.
Tangoo is one app that is nailing personalized experiences. The “pocket concierge” lets you plan for different occasions (think corporate outing, date night, or going out with friends) and different moods (want to watch sports? do some dancing?), providing a list of restaurants that fit what you’re after. Not only does Tangoo recommend a place to eat—it also hooks you up with a few special touches by letting the restaurant you choose know a little more about you. The app is available in select Canadian cities, but expect it to keep expanding.
Have an Impulsive Adventure
As much as spending months meticulously planning and researching and trip can be fun, sometimes you just want to have a spontaneous adventure—and it’s becoming increasingly easy to do so.
Traveling on impulse not only means that you might get to explore an unexpected locale, but you could also get some awesome deals along the way. HotelTonight lets you book a last minute hotel in just three taps and a swipe. They’ve done the research for you, so all you need to do is spend a minute or two on your phone, and your plans are arranged for you.
Don’t be surprised to experience similar planning tools when booking flights, ground transportation, activities, and even restaurants—instant adventures are becoming the new standard.
As carrying camera equipment, phones, tablets, and other costly items trends towards the norm, travelers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to outsmarting thieves. No longer simply relying on hotels or other service providers to store gear safely, travelers are opting to take initiatives firsthand to protect themselves against theft.
This is one area in which we at Pacsafe are particularly conscious. By employing a variety of innovative technologies—from slash-proof straps to smart zipper security to RFID blocking materials—we’re helping you with all the anti-theft features you need to stay ahead of the game and to enjoy your travels with a little extra peace of mind.
Before even setting foot on an airplane, travelers are scouring the internet to plan out their upcoming trips. While official tourism websites have been around for ages, wanderlusters are digging a little deeper when it comes to mapping out their adventures. They’re turning to forums, blogs, and social media to get the real scoop on their destination of choice, not just the glossy version that appears in travel brochures.
Of course, tourism offices are getting more creative in their attempts to reach prospective visitors—don’t be surprised to find sponsored trips in your favorite travel blogger’s latest posts, or official representatives popping up on online forums. Still, travelers will continue to seek out unbiased sources to make sure they have the most authentic experiences.
While we continue to make strides towards paperless travel, there is still a little room for improvement—but we believe 2016 will move us along in the right direction.
One of the best examples of going digital: using apps to speed up the typically tedious customs process. Last year, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched an app called Mobile Passport Control (MPC) that sped up the administrative functions of customs. Users simply fill out a profile, complete a custom declaration questionnaire, and take a selfie (seriously) in order to receive an electronic receipt that they present to a customs officer. So far, the app can be used in a few different airports including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Miami International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport.
A true traveler knows that memories are made not just based on what you do and see, but on who you meet on your trips. People are increasingly seeking the opportunity to make authentic connections with fellow travelers and locals alike.
Hotels are noticing this trend and are working to create interactive shared spaces to get people out of their rooms and interaction with one another. Apps like EatWith are picking up on the vibe, too: EatWith connects you to locals and, specifically, their kitchens. Local hosts, who are carefully selected, invite app users into their home for a tasty home cooked meal. Not only are the hosts wicked cooks, but they’re exceptionally friendly and can tell travelers a lot about the area. After all, many great adventures have started around a kitchen table.
As you look back on the year that was 2015 and start making plans, take a moment to stop to think about where in the world 2016 will take you!
Magee Walker was a late bloomer to the snowboard scene, but thankfully discovered the joys of the sport after moving to Vancouver and spending weekends in Whistler. She’s now lucky enough to call Whistler her full-time home and spends her days conquering the mountain, by foot in the summer and by snowboard boot in the winter.