As experts in adventure travel, we’ve weighed in what we think will be popular in the year of travel ahead. With 34 years of organising small group holidays to over 100 countries in the world, we’ve seen some rises and falls in travel and our industry experts have identified 10 travel trends for 2019.
- Cosmic events will be in the spotlight
More and more travellers are visiting the most distant reaches of the planet, and the chance to see the rare event of a solar eclipse is now more accessible than ever. With a 34% increase in bookings to the Polar Regions and Patagonia in 2018, KE has launched two new adventures to see total solar eclipsesin 2020 and 2021. In 2020 travellers will be able to witness the spectacle from the wilds of Argentina on a tour of Patagonia and the Lake District, and in 2021, they’ll have the opportunity to board the brand new cruise ship the HV Hondius and see the eclipse over the open expanse of the Antarctic Ocean.
- More travellers will take on the self-guided challenge
In the last year, tour operators have seen a 20% increase in self-guided holidays. Adventurers want to take the reins, pick their own departure dates and go at their own pace, with the assurance help is on hand if needed. KE has now launched a selection of self-guided journeys across Europe to add to and enhance its wide range of activities, which includes adventures in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, from trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc to cycling from Bolzano to Venice.
- Adventure travel will embrace the new ‘slow travel’ trend
With daily life only ever becoming more hectic and well-being at the forefront of the modern zeitgeist, travellers are increasingly seeking adventures which allow them to enjoy a leisurely pace, relax, and reconnect with the idea of exploration and travel. Throughout the past year KE has introduced over 40 new holidays for 2019 which are under a grade 3 and offer the chance to soak up the journey as much as the destination. These include a discovery journey through Nepal and Bhutan and an Amazon riverboat adventure.
- Cruises will offer more active options
Whilst more travellers want to slow down, they don’t want to stand still either. Active cruises are the answer, which offer the opportunity to intersperse a relaxing journey with options for adventure. KE’s cruises cater to this perfectly with adventures in Norway and the Polar Regions which combine walking and wildlife watching alongside. For 2019, KE is introducing new adventures which offer even more of an active twist with a Burgundy Riverboat Cruise with excursions for walking and cycling, and a thrilling new Polar Hike & Sail adventure around Spitzbergen.
- Solo travel will continue to rise
Google searches for “solo travel” were at the highest they’ve ever been in 2018. Travel companies are now building catered products to not only accommodate, but celebrate the solo traveller. 56% of KE travellers are solo and opt to travel on their own, so with this in mind, KE doesn’t charge a single supplement fee. Holidays like the Hidden Guianas and Secret Trails of the Tribal Heartland are perfect for solo travellers as you’ll be immersed into remote wilderness with limited access for a real authentic and cultural experience while travelling in the security and comfort of a small group.
- Adventure travel will go cross-borders
With Europe’s most popular destinations only getting busier, adventure travel is looking to lesser-visited countries and seeing what else is out there. Areas like the Balkans and the Baltics are ideal, and travellers are looking to fully explore these newer regions. KE is offering cross-border adventures in Central Europe, which will take travellers through 5 countries in just 2 weeks, through the heart of the Balkans to discover Serbia and Montenegro, and to Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to experience the Baltic trails.
- New visa regulations will give rise to emerging destinations
As a booming adventure travel industry puts the spotlight on lesser-visited destinations, countries are taking note and making it easier for them to get there. Currently UK and US citizens require no visa to visit Central Asia, and in Bhutan, visas are being waived for those travelling east to celebrate a new internal flight route from Paro to Yonphula. KE has introduced new trekking and cycling adventures to Kazakhstan and a new journey into East Bhutan to get travellers there before the crowds arrive.
- Travellers will look for smaller guided groups
KE has always operated from a policy of small group travel, but as the industry becomes more focused on responsible tourism KE has seen more travellers seek low-impact, small group numbers, with trips of less than 12 passengers selling most in 2018. KE offers numerous small group adventures, such as a high-level route in the Italian Alps with a maximum of 4 to 5, or a trek to Meteora in Greece with a sustainable group size of 6 to 8.
- Travel to these destinations will make a comeback
When once popular destinations suffer the threat of terrorism, or recover from a major disasters or events, reductions in the number of visitors are inevitable. However it’s when these situations start to settle that travellers are itching to return, something KE has seen with Turkey and Nepal, both coming back strongly in 2018. KE is adding three new holidays including a new multi-active Family Adventurein Turkey and five new holidays in Nepal including a 2 week trekking holiday in the accessible Langtang region sadly destroyed in the earthquake of 2015.
- Non EU countries in Europe more popular than ever
With only a few months to go until Brexit, the information of how it will affect travellers is still not clear. The uncertainty of EU travel has no doubt influenced travel to non-EU destinations such as Georgia, Albania and Norway. Trekking in Georgia bookings increased by over 150% in 2018 compared to the last three years and walking in Albania has already some departures almost sold out for 2019. The popularity of the Lofoten Islands for 2019 is evident as summer time departures are already nearly limited with few spaces left.