Author: Talia Avakian
Trip Ideas 2020 | CN Traveller
The good news is that 2020 is shaping up to be a fascinating time for travel. The coming year’s big trends will shed light on lots of exciting, unsung destinations and reveal new sides to old favourites, too.
So to bring you the very best holiday ideas for 2020, we’ve partnered with Expedia to pick the next five major travel trends – and the hottest places to match. Your travel wish list for 2020 is sorted.
Travel trend: off-season surprises
Overcrowding in popular destinations is increasingly hitting headlines. But savvy travellers will find some hotspots are even better off season.
- GREEK ISLANDS IN SPRING
Is there anything more seductive than the Greek islands in summer? Yes – the Greek islands in spring. Restaurants and bars are rousing themselves after a stormy winter, but there are no crowds and no queues. Prices are set at ‘shoulder season’ (with Greek hotels 80 per cent more expensive in high summer than in the first half of the year, according to analysis by Expedia), while temperatures creep up to 20°C in some places and those beautiful sunsets return. Plus, the further south into the Mediterranean you head, the warmer you’ll be: seek out Santorini for vineyards and sexy seaside cabanas, or adventure-seekers can hike Crete’s soaring Samariá Gorge.
- IBIZA IN WINTER
Winter on the White Isle might sound like madness, but this is the best time to experience Ibiza. Cool, sunny days invite strolls through peaceful villages (San Carlos, Santa Agnès, Santa Gertrudis) and coastal paths dotted with winter almond blossom, plus views of the twinkling Mediterranean. Legendary beach bars are laid-back, not packed. This Balearic spot and the word ‘budget’ rarely share a sentence, but off season is an exception to the rule.
- SAN FRANCISCO IN AUTUMN
The biggest mistake tourists make in the City by the Bay? Visiting in summer, when chilly winds make a mockery of anyone in shorts and fog clings to the Golden Gate Bridge, obscuring the view. Autumn is the season of clear blue skies and sunny, California-dreamy days – ideal for biking over the bridge, riding cable cars and absorbing the scenery from hilltops and towers (Twin Peaks and Coit are the best). It’s harvest time in neighbouring Napa and Sonoma Wine Country, too.
- DEVON IN WINTER
The county’s sweeping, sandy beaches aren’t just for sunbathing. This exceptionally good-looking coastline encompasses dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, weathered sea arches, World Heritage-listed fossils, rolling moorlands and waters sparkling a very un-British blue. The best way to admire the views? Hiking the South West Coast Path is more refreshing with an invigorating wintry wind than sizzling summer sunshine. And you’ll have earned your Devon cream tea, which tastes all the sweeter when coming in from the cold.
TRAVEL TREND: WELLNESS FOR THE MIND
The wellness holiday may be a well-established pillar in travel, but a less tangible aspect of wellbeing is beginning to play a more seminal role. As increasingly hectic work schedules and over-connected lifestyles see stress levels rise, focus is shifting from physical exercise and nutrition to mindfulness. In fact, according to research by Expedia, more than 80 per cent of travellers around the world now take trips where a boost in mental health is the ultimate goal.
- UMBRIA, ITALY
The brainchild of former fashion designer Marcello Murzilli, digital-detox retreat Eremito – based in a remote Umbrian valley – is for solo travellers who want to kickstart a ‘dialogue with the soul’. Going it alone on holiday has become increasingly popular (in 2018, Abta reported that the number of people doing so had doubled in the past seven years), and this chic, ‘secular monastery’ – a Design Hotels property – leans into the zeitgeist, urging individual reflection with silent suppers, meditative woodland walks and themed programmes with titles such as ‘Where are you going?’ and ‘Return to presence’.
- TRANSYLVANIA, ROMANIA
This country’s bucolic central region might strike you as the last place you’d peace out, due to the ghost stories of Dracula roaming its gloomy forests and Gothic castles, but all traces of spookiness disappear at Akasha Wellness Retreat. Set amid the tree-topped mountains and unspoiled pastures of Piatra Craiului National Park, Akasha’s philosophy is to let nature do the work, which means yoga and meditation on its outdoor, mountain-view platform, vegan food and forest bathing, the mindfulness technique du jour
- AGADIR, MOROCCO
Surfing has always been in style, but expect a surge in beginners taking to their boards this year, as the sport will be making its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. And newcomers may get more than kudos out of it. Wave riding has long been associated with spirituality – whether that’s due to the meditative ‘flow’ state it induces or the transformative ritual of being immersed in water. At Paradis Plage, a laid-back luxury retreat on Morocco’s North Atlantic coast, surf and yoga packages focus on the meditative aspects of communing with the water (its glass-walled yoga shala looks out onto the crashing waves).
- KALUTARA, SRI LANKA
Ayurveda is described as a medicine for the body and mind, and in Sri Lanka there’s no shortage of tropical retreats offering programmes in the healing practice. At boutique Plantation Villa, set within a former coconut, cinnamon and pepper farming estate, a team of coaches works to develop guests’ mindfulness using Ayurvedic pillars (yoga, meditation, herbal treatments, changes to diet). Though a stay here would likely achieve peace of mind regardless of the medicinal approach: the colonial bungalow, surrounded by rainforest, is a miniature Eden with a swimming pool, exotic gardens and its own natural waterfall.
Travel trend: learning from locals
Trips are now less about poolside lazing than broadening personal horizons and truly getting under a destination’s skin. Learning a traditional skill from a local is a two-for-one experience.
- ISTRIA, CROATIA
Truffle hunting is a family business on the sensational Istrian peninsula, an eye-wateringly beautiful region of charming hilltop villages, shimmering Adriatic waters and dense oak forest, wherein lurks the foodie holy grail: Istrian white truffles. Now, the skills passed down through generations are yours to learn. A new appreciation for these prized morsels – more affordable than the famous French and Italian versions – has encouraged local hunters to invite visitors on forages, typically ending with a lunch of truffle-infused delicacies and local wines.
- NEW YORK CITY, USA
For those not versed in NYC surf culture, allow the pros at Locals Surf School in Rockaway Beach, Queens, to explain. Co-founders Mike Reinhardt and Mike Kololyan have been riding Rockaway’s waves their whole lives and offer a window into East Coast surfing at this school. That might include hanging at Rippers, a boardwalk favourite slinging hot dogs and cheese fries, or Rockaway Beach Surf Club, which looks exactly like a surfer bar should and mixes a mean tropical cocktail. More into paddleboarding? That just so happens to be an excellent way to explore Rockaway’s waves, too.
- PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Born towards the end of the Communist era, when freedom of expression was finally given a chance to flourish, Prague’s street art is all about Czech pride. See the city’s most famous piece, a loving mural dedicated to Bohumil Hrabal, one of the greatest Czech authors of all time. A number of artists now offer private street-art lessons to visitors, including a quick history of the local scene, and the chance to create your own masterpiece on a legal graffiti wall near Barrandov Bridge.
- ROME, ITALY
Italy is obsessed with pasta, and every region embraces its own speciality. The capital, voted among the world’s top 10 cities for cooking classes by Expedia users, is home to cacio e pepe, pasta alla gricia and pasta carbonara – and visitors can take lessons with a local on how to make them from scratch. Guests will learn traditional tips and tricks, with supper and plenty of Prosecco thrown in – plus classes often take place in the chef’s own apartment.
Travel trend: the alternative bucket list
- CUSCO, PERU: INSTEAD OF MACHU PICCHU, HIKE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN
Machu Picchu is spectacular: the mountaintop Incan citadel was named one of the seven wonders of the modern world for good reason. But demand is so high that stricter ticket rules were introduced this year. Now, another day trip from Cusco has got travellers talking: towards the end of 2015, centuries-old layers of snow and ice melted off the slope of Vinicunca, revealing vivid green, yellow, red and purple mineral-deposit stripes. Montaña de Siete Colores is accessible by a guided, high-altitude trek – but, according to Expedia, visits have already spiked by 200 per cent in the past year, so go before the crowds catch on.
- UTAH, USA: INSTEAD OF ZION NATIONAL PARK, EXPLORE GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK
Utah’s Mighty Five national parks are nothing short of stupendous, with sprawling expanses of canyons, rock cathedrals and sandstone arches. But a surge in popularity in recent years has seen them become busier than ever (officials at Zion have even considered a reservations-only policy). Instead, head to Utah’s state parks, which are often just as jaw-dropping and far less crowded. Visit Goblin Valley, where thousands of rock pillars, weathered into fantastical shapes such as goblins and mushrooms, fan out across a deserted, Mars-like wilderness.
- ORKNEY ISLANDS, SCOTLAND: INSTEAD OF STONEHENGE, VISIT THE STANDING STONES OF STENNESS
The roads around Stonehenge are so gridlocked, authorities are considering building a special tunnel to ease bottlenecks (a solution archaeologists fear will disturb the ancient site). The road passing Orkney’s Standing Stones of Stenness, however, is eerily quiet, adding to the mysterious air of this UNESCO-listed monument, which carbon dating suggests is even older than its English cousin. This trip also gives visitors plenty of time to explore the other Neolithic curiosities on the Orkney Islands, including Skara Brae, a preserved village predating Egypt’s most famous pyramids.
- PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES: INSTEAD OF HALONG BAY, SAIL TO CORON ISLAND
Long ago, visitors to Vietnam’s Halong Bay would cut a tranquil journey through emerald-green waters on a traditional wooden junk boat, passing between picturesque limestone karsts and paddling kayaks to hidden grottoes. But today the secret is well and truly out, with hordes of tourists clamouring to take photographs of the spectacular views. Instead, sail the 20 minutes from Coron in Palawan, the Philippines, to Coron Island for shipwreck diving, secret lagoons and white-sand beaches.
Travel trend: immersive art
Art is increasingly a driving force for planning a trip, particularly if it’s interactive. Here’s where to find the world’s most interesting spaces.
- HAKONE, JAPAN
This town is Japan at its most zen. The polar opposite of hectic Tokyo, an easy train ride away, it’s filled with green valleys, hot springs and traditional ryokan inns. The pièce de résistance is the backdrop of Mount Fuji. Plus, at Hakone Open-Air Museum there are more than 100 artworks spread across the countryside, including Symphonic Sculpture, a stained-glass tower visitors can climb for mountain views. Also nearby is Hakone Glass Forest Museum, where glass trees, bridges and other pieces are dotted around an immaculate garden.
- FISHTAIL, MONTANA, USA
Drive down a dirt track just off the one-road town of Fishtail and it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary ranch-dotted place. Tippet Rise is an ambitious sculpture park on a level with New York’s Storm King, but with the quintessential Big Sky Country scenery of cattle roaming vast grasslands and the snow-capped Beartooth Mountains jutting out in the distance. In this landscape, the artworks, by big names such as Alexander Calder and Mark di Suvero, seem more compelling and cryptic. Acclaimed classical musicians perform concerts around the sculptures in summer.
- CHANDIGARH, INDIA
The Taj Mahal might be India’s greatest classical-art achievement, but when it comes to folk art, The Rock Garden in Chandigarh is just as celebrated. The lifelong work of transport worker Nek Chand Saini, it’s a fantastical kingdom of people, animals, palaces and pavilions, all sculpted from found objects and sprawling across 40 acres of protected forest. As the garden’s popularity grew, Saini took on a team of assistants and added ever-more elaborate pieces, including waterfalls and giant swings.
- BENQUE VIEJO DEL CARMEN, BELIZE
Three miles outside the sleepy riverside town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen, something strange lurks in the rainforest. Tucked between tangled trees, and spread over 60 acres, is Poustinia Land Art Park, a collection of around 30 works by international artists – some carved into tree trunks, others assembled from abandoned computer monitors. All are slowly being reclaimed by nature, blurring the lines between forest and art. Visiting involves some challenging hiking, but it’s worthwhile for the hand-crafted surprises.
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