Now don't get us wrong, we love a low hassle, tried and tested holiday as much as the next person. But at the same time it's hard to beat the feeling of experiencing something genuinely different. Whether that means beating the tourist crush to visit a new up-and-coming location or employing new logistics to take a special holiday, there's something to be said for being ahead of the curve.
As a quickly shape-shifting industry there’s a whole host of new and exciting things in store for 2019, both for the occasional traveller or those who believe they’ve seen it all. We’ve compiled our list of the hottest travel trends for 2019, so you can see it and experience it before your friends and family have chance to ask if you're going anywhere nice next year.
Here's the Flexicover team’s guide to what we’re likely to find in 2019.
The spotlight shines on Central Asia
In recent years, much of Eastern Europe has seen an influx of visitors that would be unthinkable when the Iron Curtain was still drawn. Croatia and Bulgaria are now firmly on the tourist trail, Georgia is coming into its own and Central Asia is poised to become the next former-Soviet region to see an increase in tourism. The simplified visa process rolled out by Uzbekistan in February means it’s easy to visit this fascinating country. With neighbouring attractions like Turkmenistan's Darvaza Crater, a 70-metre wide flaming hole often called the Door to Hell, Central Asia won't be off the beaten track for long.
Self-guided tours are on the up
In the last year, tour operators saw a 20 per cent rise in travellers booking self-guided holidays. In other words, while people are willing to employ travel agents for expertise and guidance when travelling overseas, more are shirking the group feel of these holidays and going it alone. The benefit? Holidaymakers can go at their own pace and take detours if they wish, but all the hard work and uncertainties are taken out of the organisation of the holiday – and there’s someone at the end of a line for support. Offering the best of both worlds, this trend is set to continue in 2019.
Want a travel recommendation? Trust AI
Word of mouth still has a huge part to play in helping us to decide where to visit next. But a growing number of travellers are now prepared to base their holiday plans on curated recommendations made using artificial intelligence. Two-fifths of travellers said they want travel brands to provide personalised suggestions influenced by their past activity. We can already see this sort of curation in everything from booking accommodation to researching the best bars and restaurants, but we're expecting it to become far more prominent in 2019 as consumers get more comfortable with their robot friends.
Steering clear of over-tourism
While most destinations continue to battle it out to attract the most visitors, others are facing the opposite challenge. In July, residents of Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia protested at the overwhelming volume of tourists flocking to their cities; the likes of Amsterdam and Venice have already taken steps to limit the impact of visitors. In 2019, we're expecting globally-aware travellers to take note. Whether that means swapping the Taj Mahal for a trip to the lesser-known Tomb of Humayun or eschewing Dubrovnik for the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, more tourists than ever will be looking to escape the crowds next year. All the better for discovering more unique places.
Augmented and virtual reality are changing our experiences
Augmented reality took a major step into the mainstream with the popularity of Pokemon Go. According to Tractica, sales of AR-enabled glasses will surge from 3.7 billion in 2018 to 22.8 billion in 2022. In the travel industry there’s already initial uses to provide navigation, guides and translations - like Word Lens, which is perfect for reading foreign menus. Meanwhile, virtual reality helps give holidaymakers a better feel for a prospective destination - most recently, smaller Japanese cities have launched VR apps to show their offerings and lure holidaymakers. In 2019, we're expecting to see many more faces of the travel industry use technology to enhance the visitor experience.
Wherever you plan on heading in 2019 it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.