In 2018, Georgia and Sri Lanka were the buzzworthy places to be, and my, weren’t hotels clamouring to upgrade their restaurant experiences. In London, we also noticed a weakening of the ‘Trump slump’ – meaning we began to creep back to the States again – and activity holidays were more popular than ever. We’ve also begun to balance our Instagram use, with Vienna leading the way in a ‘put your bloody phone away and look up’ style of travel.
And what’s to come for the year ahead? We’ve looked into our crystal ball to come up with the following predictions for 2019.
London Gatwick will come back fighting
It’s not been a great year for our favourite faraway airport. The hotly-contested new runway went to Heathrow instead of them, and soon after, Wow Air announced that they were moving operations to our least favourite faraway airport, Stansted. Throw on top the massive question mark of UK travel that is Brexit, and a drone strike that brought the airport to a halt on one of the busiest days of Christmas, and they’d be forgiven for spending the rest of the season in bed.
But as an airport of the ‘too big to fail’ variety, we reckon they’ll seek out good news with a fierce determination in 2019. Expect announcements of new destinations and airliners to replace Wow Air’s departure, as well as improvements to keep it competitive with Heathrow.
Eco-conscious holidays will go mainstream
Thanks to nature documentaries and shows like Drowning in Plastic, being conscious of our actions is no longer the reserve of hippy types. So expect understanding that goes further than plastic straws/towel replacing.
The average suburban family are also beginning to understand that plastic bottles are a no no, and that leaving the air conditioning on all day isn’t a great idea. They’ll be more understanding when it comes to sacrifices in the name of ecology, and might be prepared to pay a premium for a guilt-free trip.
It’s a step too far to think everyone will offset their carbon footprint when travelling, but you can if you’re a bit more woke.
Solo holidays will continue to rise
Being the modern types we are, we tend to be fine in our own company. Imagine! That means when we want to go to a dream destination, we no longer rely on finding company, as even other halves might have different priorities going on and might not want to do exactly what we have in mind.
While solo holidays are already on the up – the number of Brits taking solo holidays went up from 12% in 2017 to 15% in 2018 – we think that will continue in force in 2019.
The trendiest countries will be in central and western Asia
Georgia’s a little ahead of the pack, but the likes of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan will be hot destinations thanks to simplified visa processes, more tourist amenities and a growing interest in the Silk Road. Uzbekistan has already at 5.5 times the amount of Airbnb bookings in October 2018 than the previous year. So get in on it before everyone else does.
Weekend breaks will become more popular
Usually, annual travel involves a nice mix of long haul and short haul. But we’re starting to see a preference towards more frequent, shorter trips abroad – over half of travellers across the globe report that they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019.
The main benefit is that our next trip is only ever a short while away. It’s a great strategy for those with itchy feet, and makes sense given Londoners have the many different countries and cultures of Europe within a few hours reach.
The Brexit effect
Something is going to happen with regards to Brexit and travel, we just don’t know what it is yet, because the government don’t know what it is yet.
There are panicked warnings about what might occur, but even at our most cynical, we doubt UK travel will be paused. London is one of the most travel-ly cities in Europe, and that’s not going to change. Whether we’re pitching clients in Frankfurt, taking a shopping trip to our kindred spirit of New York, or off to a dreamy beach party in Thailand, the one thing we’re certain of is that the demand won’t let up, Brexit or no Brexit, deal or no deal.