2019 Trending Travel

AAA Travel’s predictions for five trends to watch in 2019

The overarching travel trend in 2019 is personalized experiences, driven by the impact that social media has on influencing where to take your next vacation. Everyone has suggestions on where to go, and sharing (bragging) is commonplace on social media platforms. Facebook post: “Here’s me at a private villa in Italy.” Comment: “I stayed in a villa in Italy, too, and mine had a personal chef and valet.” Vacationers are looking for uniquely meaningful experiences filled with interactions with local people, food and venues—all the while checking social media to see where their friends are going (and maybe even considering how to one-up them!). Who doesn’t want to respond to the happy couple posting about their ah-mazing vacation in London complete with a privately guided pub crawl with a note about your pilgrimage across Belgium to discover the perfect Abbey-brewed Witbier?

Personalized travel experiences don’t have to mean expensive either, particularly if you have the right travel agent to help you figure out exactly what you want and what you want to pay for it. So get ready to share your Instagrammable moments and inspire your friends’ next vacation. Here are the top five trends AAA is seeing for 2019.

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Healthy Holidays
As Baby Boomers and Gen Xers find themselves with more time and money to travel, they’re spending it on active pursuits such as hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, zip lining in Costa Rica, exploring the Galápagos Islands, or bicycling from village to village in Provence. Wellness-oriented vacationers are looking for physical activity supplemented by mindful challenges. Expect these types of trips to include expert local guides, state-of-the-art equipment, environmentally friendly accommodations, and perhaps an afternoon in a luxurious spa or an added trek to a nearby hot springs to take the restorative waters.

Gastronomic Getaways
With such wide appeal (let’s face it, even if you don’t like to cook, you probably like to eat and drink), it’s not surprising that 35 percent of travelers say that experiencing local cuisine is a primary reason for visiting a destination. Stay in an Italian villa, shop at a farmer’s market for fresh local ingredients, and then prepare your meal with guidance from a local chef. Attend a demonstration at one of Paris’ great cooking schools. Take a tour of a famed wine region (in Argentina or maybe New Zealand), or sample the rich history of beer in the ancient abbeys of Belgium.

What’s Old Is New
Remember those road trips with your mom and dad? Why not share the best parts of that experience with your kids or grandkids? This year, 34 percent of travelers polled say they plan on visiting their favorite childhood vacation destination (44 percent of Millennials say they’ll follow this trend). This is one reason why Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, ranks as our club’s most-requested AAA TripTik. So hit the road by renting an RV or hitching up a classic Airstream camper. Or leave the driving to someone else by taking an escorted tour vacation or rail adventure. Imagine seeing the national parks or the Canadian Rockies without having to do the driving! Florida theme parks will also top the list of popular spots this year. Walt Disney World will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as a yet-to-be-named Star Wars-themed hotel. Not to be outdone, Universal Orlando will unveil its own new Harry Potter-themed attraction, described as a “dark ride that will take guests deeper into The Wizarding World.”

Alternative Accomodations
You already know about villas and home-shares, but the latest trend is to make your digs integral to the vacation itself. Been a little naughty? Stay in a notorious former prison at the now-luxurious Liberty Hotel Boston. Sleep with the fishes at the Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida (you’ll need to scuba dive the 21 feet to reach the two-room lodge). Climb 35 feet into the forest canopy, and sleep in a luxury treehouse at Winvian Farm in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut. Listen from a sumptuous teepee to the coyotes howling in the high desert at the Capitol Reef Resort in Torrey, Utah. Or chill out in an ice hotel (see the story on page 60).

“You Do You” Travel
Time off is precious, so combining interests and hobbies with a vacation makes sense. For example, sports fans are following their favorite teams not just around the country but also across the pond. This season’s Philadelphia Eagles–Jacksonville Jaguars game at London’s Wembley Stadium shattered attendance records for an NFL game. AAA hosted more than 40 “Phans” who watched the Eagles win from 100-level seats at a price (including accommodations) better than most people paid for tickets alone. Tour operators are following the special-interest trend by creating unique vacations around TV shows and movies (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and the Harry Potter film series all have tours built around the sets). More than a quarter of people surveyed say they will vacation to experience a unique cultural event or music festival. Look for more personalized vacations featuring off-the-beaten-path venues, insider experiences and smaller groups.

EXPLORATIONS BY AAA—ON TREND FOR CUSTOMIZED VACATIONS FOR AAA MEMBERS

Are you a gardener interested in learning more about horticulture with other like-minded travelers? Have you always wanted to see (or smell) the Rose Parade up close? Or maybe you’re a solo traveler looking for a group of women to travel with to interesting destinations. All of these special-interest trips and more are mapped out and ready for AAA members to join. Check out the full list at .

  • Paris for Foodies—Six nights, departing May 16, 2019. Trip includes a chef demonstration at Le Cordon Bleu, dinner and wine at the Eiffel Tower, a cruise on the Seine and more.
  • Colorado Trains—Eight nights, departing August 3, 2019. Trip includes four rail experiences, including the Georgetown Loop, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge, Cumbres & Toltec, and Royal Gorge.
  • Mystery Trip—It’s such a secret that we can’t even tell you where you’re going! For the past several years, adventurous travelers have met up with our AAA host and set off on a trip without knowing the destination. Get clues (and the price) at AAA.
  • If you’re a female traveler interested in meeting like-minded women, bring a friend (or go solo) to a Today’s Traveling Women event. The groups are set up in various cities, where they meet for dinner and take day trips. At these events, you’ll learn about the exciting trips planned for 2019. Go to AAA.com/TTW for an event near you.
  • Sports fans, AAA is your source for tickets and packages you can trust. Thinking about the Super Bowl, Spring Training or maybe following your favorite team on a road trip? AAA offers packages for all major sports, including hockey, horse racing and NASCAR. Go to AAA.com/SportsTravel for information, including pricing.
  • Want to be among the first to visit the year’s most popular destinations? Travel with us to Iceland, Peru or Japan—our picks for 2019’s trendiest vacation spots for AAA members. Oh, and have your phone ready to capture all those Instagrammable moments. Your friends are just waiting to see them and comment.