Space over lake Photo by nate rayfield on Unsplash

Top Travel Trends 2020: Where to Go & How to Do It

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From space tourism to transformational retreats, what’s trending on the travel scene?

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Nothing can put a dampener on your much-anticipated holiday quite like learning you’ve chosen last year’s hot destination, missed out on the opening du jour, and failed to tap into the most hashtag-able eco-tourism trend. Stay ahead of the jet-set pack and plan a year, nay a decade, of on-trend adventuring with our guide to 2020’s top travel trends. It’s set to be a year of extremes with out of this world space tourism contrasting with the slow travel movement taking things back to basics. Which camp will you choose? Jet, set, go.

Travel Trends 2020: A Guide

Going Green: Electric Air Travel

It might have felt like last year was the year that sustainable travel went global, but with a world waking up to the climate crisis, tourism eco-credentials will be even more under the microscope as we move into the new decade. Rolls-Royce is planning a test flight of its first electric plane (the ACCEL) in 2020 with Airbus’ electric E-Fan X shortly behind. But while we wait for emission-free flying, many of us are turning to alternate methods of transport, leading to rise in train and bus travel. Apps like Omio allow users to compare journeys by cost, travel time and environmental impact.

Cover Your Tracks: Rise of Train Travel

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

As we give excess flights the swerve, train travel is increasing in popularity. You could start by exploring the UK by train (it would take you around 14 hours of travel to get from Penzance to Inverness, should you feel so inclined), hopping on and off and checking out entries from our Great British & Irish Hotel Guide as you go. But if it’s the glamour of retro train travel that appeals, try the new-for-2020 Murder Mystery on The Orient Express or check out the Party with Belmond Hotel Cipriani, an immersive 1920s journey from Venice to London.

Forget Carbon Neutral: Energy-Positive Hotels

Svart Hotel

Svart, photo: Snøhetta Plompmozes Miris

As more and more hotels strive for carbon neutrality, the new breed of eco properties are going further still. Svart in Norway’s Arctic Circle will open in 2022 making it the world’s first energy-positive hotel (unless someone else gets there first). With a 360-degree view across the Svartisen glacier and in prime Northern Lights country, this stilted, circular hotel will produce more energy than it uses, and consuming 85% less energy than a traditional hotel. With 99 rooms, four restaurants and a 1000-square-metre spa the project isn’t exactly small-scale, either, with on-site facilities including two electric boats, a sustainable farm, an education centre and a design laboratory. Hotel rooms, restaurants and terraces have been strategically placed within a circular design to exploit the sun’s energy no matter the time of day or season, with Norwegian solar panels cladding the roof, produced using clean, hydro-energy.

Travel for Good: Giving Back

In addition to taking personal responsibility for the environmental impact of our travels throughout the next decade, increasingly we expect our tour providers to give back, too. Luxury travel specialist Red Savannah is ahead of the curve, launching Green Savannah to hammer home its eco initiatives, which include sponsorship of the Rainforest Trust UK, supporting projects aimed at reducing CO2 emissions and protecting indigenous species and livelihoods. Meanwhile, Natural World Safaris launches Expeditions for Change, a new series of philanthropic safaris for 2020. Destinations will include Svalbard, Chad and Malawi, with each itinerary exploring a crucial conservation topic, with activities including assisting with the translation of animals and anti-poaching activities or focusing on cultural interactions with local communities.

Well, Well, Wellness: Arctic Bath

Arctic Bath

Photo: Anders Blomqvist

The wellness travel sector shows no signs of slowing, with more ways to destress (before you re-stress) than ever. Our pick? A visit to the brand-new 12-room Arctic Bath, a new floating spa hotel in the Lule River in Swedish Lapland, built in a circular shape on the water. It floats in summer and freezes into ice in winter, with a giant ice bath in the middle ringed by three saunas, hot baths and a spa treatment room. Add in a glimpse of the Northern Lights and you’ve got the potential for quite a magical restorative experience.

Find more wellness retreats for transformative travel in our round-up

Out of this World: Space Tourism

How about kicking off the new decade with a little space jolly? Virgin Galactic is hoping to send its first amateur cosmonauts into space aboard VSS Unity in the next few months, while test flights are also planned for Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin space travel company. Plans continue for the first ever space hotel, as the Gateway Foundation finetunes plans for the Von-Braun-Station.

Life at Sea: World’s Largest Private Superyacht


While some of 2020’s travel trends call for downsizing (swapping four wheels to two, for example) there is one area where more is still, ahem, more. Superyacht designer Espen Øino’s largest and most innovative project to date, as unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in 2019. The Njord (named for the god of the seas and winds of Norse mythology) is being dubbed the ‘world’s largest private superyacht’ and will contain 118 private, self-contained residences ranging from two to six bedrooms, all with sea views and private terraces, under development with Ocean Residences. ‘Green ship technology’ has been adopted on all propulsion and power generation systems, with solar and wind turbines and a mission to use only electric power when sailing through the world’s most sensitive waters. Residents can expect lecture and workshop programmes, local culinary expertise and culture programmes to enhance their life on board.

Slow Travel: Life on Two Wheels

Despite the push toward 2000mph+ space travel, elsewhere on the globe, things are slowing down a little. The slow travel trend is on the rise, with walking, boating and cycling breaks more popular than ever. The Slow Cyclist arranges small group cycling and walking holidays in Transylvania, Rwanda, and Northern Greece, with two new destinations launching in 2020, with e-bikes meaning the itineraries are suitable for all fitness and ability levels.

Grand Designs: Unique Rentals

DolceVita, Sicily

The devil is in the detail when it comes to finding your perfect villa rental for 2020 and if you’re spending two weeks in a home away from home in the summer, stock prints and white-washed walls simply won’t suffice. Check out The Thinking Traveller’s collection of contemporary design villas for the most beautiful backdrop to your next getaway (and an album of holiday snaps worth sharing). We love DolceVita in Sicily for its quirky design features and stunning sea views.

Zero Real Estate: Switzerland Under the Stars

New tourism concept ‘zero real estate’ has been adapted from artwork Null Null Stern Hotel by artists Frank and Patrik Riklin and will offer ‘pop-up’ hotels in Eastern Switzerland from early 2020. Seven tourism organisations from Toggenburg to the Principality of Liechtenstein plan to offer visitors temporary and mobile hotel rooms without walls or roofs, located in nature spots to allow guests to get closer to nature. If a break without walls or a roof worries you, the presence of your personal butler should help to ease your mind.

Members Only: Extreme Sports


Members club culture infiltrates the travel world in 2020 with exclusive opportunities for fellows of elite experience agencies. Somerton is the world’s first sports members club of its ilk, offering access to a community of athletes, wellness personalities and trainers at the top of their fields, and the chance to participate in activities such as rowing the Thames with Olympic legend Helen Glover MBE or climbing in Yosemite with Alex Honnold.

For more inspiration, you should check out our round-up of the hottest hotel openings of 2020.

Beyond Experiential Travel: Have an Epiphany

The last decade was all about experiential travel, but immersing yourself in local culture (and, of course, cuisine) is simply no longer enough. With 70% of global consumers now opting for experience over object when it comes to how they spend their money, companies like Black Tomato are focusing on giving their customers unique transformational fulfilment with their experience-led trips. Their ‘Bring it Back’ series consists of seven immersive itineraries to encourage ‘existential epiphanies’ answering some of life’s tough questions, with transformative travel going above and beyond the current wellness sector. For example, their ‘I need to find better work-life balance’ itinerary involves spending a day with a Danish journalist known for his promotion of work-life balance and parental leave.

Main feature image: Chefchaouen Alleyways from one of the Black Tomato Bring it Back itineraries. 

Travel with Kids: Mini Explorers

Two Point Four Travel

Our children are becoming more discerning when it comes to their annual holiday, or rather, we’re no longer willing to let having kids in tow prevent us from getting stuck into the local culture. Two Point Four Travel runs sustainable and responsible itineraries for kids as young as four and suitable for single parents, fully tailored and designed to take families off the beaten track to learn about local cultures, cuisine and wildlife. Costa Rica and Bali are first on the list, with more locations coming soon.

Feature image on this post is by nate rayfield on Unsplash

The Travel Trends Hot List: 7 Destinations to Visit in 2020

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Marrakech has been named as Africa’s very first Capital of Culture 2020, so there’s never been a better time to visit the thousand-year-old red city. Known for its architecture and beloved for its artistic and cultural offerings, recent additions including Musee Yves Saint Laurent and The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden have really put the city on the map.

STAY: Royal Mansour Marrakech

Image: Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

UNESCO World Heritage-listed site Old San Juan celebrates its 500th year history as the iconic capital of Puerto Rico in 2020. Interweaving Taino, African and Spanish traditions, this hub of culture and personality will celebrate with a calendar of events, fairs and festivals throughout the year. New hotel openings for 2020 include ALOFT Ponce and Four Seasons Cayo Largo.



Rijeka, Croatia’s third city (after Zagreb the capital, then Split), is one of 2020’s Capitals of Culture, with a host of events planned to mark the occasion. On any visitors check-list should be the former sugar and tobacco factories that have been transformed into world class museums, Tito’s former yacht “Galeb”, which is being transformed into a ‘botel’ and of course the enormous art deco food market.

Find out more about Croatia

Photo: Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash



Also a European Capital of Culture for 2020, Galway has a full programme of celebrations planned, including a reading of Homer’s Odyssey on the beaches, a multi-art celebration of writer JM Synge and a St Patrick’s Day light-display by Finnish Light artist Kari Kola, in which the stunning Connemara mountains will be turned green.

STAY: The Ardilaun Hotel with Prestige Holidays

Photo: Photo by Wallace Bentt on Unsplash

Vienna Spanish Riding


With 2020 marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Vienna, the place he chose to call home, will be offering a host of celebrations, experiences and performances. With 15,000 musical concerts each year and a 99% attendance rate at the Vienna State Opera, it should very much still be on the destination hit list for music-lovers everywhere.

DO: Check out the oldest ‘boy band’ in the world, Vienna Boys’ Choir (est. 1498).

Fort Lauderdale

Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Greater Fort Lauderdale is set to host the first ever Pride of the Americas from 21-26 April 2020, welcoming more than 350,000 visitors to the home of one of America’s largest LGBT+ communities. The tourist board prides (pardon the pun) itself on being the only one in the world to have a department specifically designed to develop LGBT+ tourism.



Still not conquered the frozen continent? It’s easier than ever to do so in 2020 with a host of new itineraries on offer for the next decade. Black Tomato twins an Antarctic exploration with  Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia in a two-week adventure that includes ice kayaking, snow-shoeing and the polar plunge.