Intrepid Travel, the small-group adventure company, has just published an article listing 10 travel trends for 2018. I normally don’t pay much attention to trend forecasts, but most of these trends align so well with the way I think about travel that I decided to give you my take on each one, as well as how I think it will affect older solo travellers.

Read the whole thing; you won’t want to miss #1! Also, you’ll find a link to Intrepid’s report at the end of the post, if you want to learn how they’re addressing these trends.

Trend #10: Travel to the Middle East will make a big comeback

This was a bit of a surprise to me, given recent (and not so recent) headlines. But there is no denying that the region has appeal, from the food, to the architecture, history, landscapes and music.

Despite my dismal experience as a solo traveller in Egypt back in 1997, I got much better vibes in Istanbul in 2014, making me think that being an older woman probably helped me gain more respect from the male population. I was also ready to explore Israel and Jordan last year, but my plans changed at the last minute (long story). A country which is currently gathering popularity among those in-the-know is Oman, on the Arabian peninsula. I’m actually waiting to hear from a friend about how her trip went.

Trend #9: Europe’s new frontiers will help alleviate overtourism

You’ve probably heard about cities such as Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik asking tourists to stay away? Given the number of places to visit in Europe, it’s mind-boggling to me that so many people would all choose the same destinations. I suspect that this has a lot to do with massive cruise ships putting those cities on their itineraries.

I’m glad to hear that the travel industry is now expanding its horizons, as I’ve been eying Eastern Europe for a few years now. In particular, the Balkans is a region that looks really attractive to me right now. This includes countries as diverse as Romania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, and more. I’ve also heard good things about Poland and the Ukraine from a friend who’s just back from a 9-month round-the-world trip.

Travellers in the lesser-explored countries of Europe tend to be older, which is great if you’re looking for company in your age range.

Lake Bohinj, Slovenia (travel trends)

Lake Bohinj in Slovenia, a quieter and cheaper alternative to Italy or Switzerland

Trend #8: Modern family dynamics will innovate family travel

This refers to mono-parental families (one adult with one or more children) who, come to think of it, have been disadvantaged even more than solo travellers. Not only can’t they share the cost of a room, but they also need to pay the expenses of their dependents. Fortunately, it looks like the tide is turning and the travel industry is now paying attention.

So if you’re a single parent, or a solo traveller who wants to introduce a young niece or nephew to the joys of travel, it looks like 2018 will present you with more options in both tours and packages.

Trend #7: Adventure travel will cater to experiences

I suspect that the clamouring for cultural experiences over high-adrenaline activities may have something to do with the aging of the population. Well, that’s good news for us the 40+ crowd! AirBnB has added Experiences (with locals) to its accommodation rental business, and peer-to-peer companies offering meetups with locals keep popping up.

Adventure travel companies are actively adding food tours and other cultural experiences to their tour lineups. All this confirms my argument that you’re never too old for adventure travel.

...with Freddy (from Brussels Greeters)

Meeting a local in Brussels, through Brussels Greeters

Trend #6: Winter will become the new peak season

OK, I’m not quite ready to get onboard with that one yet, given how much I hate winter. I’m wondering if this has something to do with the popularity of Iceland these days, and everybody wanting to see the aurora borealis.

There is no denying that winter can be a good time to visit places that are crowded most of the rest of the year, like Prague. Some of the coldest countries on Earth have winter festivals, Christmas markets, sled rides, and ice hotels … if you’re into that sort of thing.

Despite the fact that I hate winter, I have been travelling to cooler countries in recent years. Some of this can be attributed to a phenomenon that many women over 50 can relate to, but also to the fact that there are less bugs. 🙂

Trend #5: Cruise travel will have more sustainable options

I’m not a cruiser, but that’s good to hear. Those huge ships carrying thousands of people must be a terrible burden on the environment. All the boats I’ve been on so far have been small sail boats, except for my cruise to Antarctica, whose ship probably had about 150 people on board (travellers and crew). Despite my propensity for sea sickness, I like small vessels. There may be river cruises and small ship tours in my future, especially since the options for solo travellers seem to be improving. And well, cruising seems to be appealing to an older demographic so I’ll be in good company.

Trend #4: Travel to Canada will reach record numbers

Yeah! I’m glad that people want to come and visit my country. We’ve become “hot” apparently. Like I tell everyone who wants to visit Canada, unless your trip is several months long, pick one area and explore it in more depth. Don’t jump around from East Coast to West Coast over a 10-day trip. It will be expensive and not very satisfying.

For a first trip, I’d do either Vancouver to Calgary through the Rockies (if you like dramatic landscapes and the outdoors), or southern Ontario and Quebec (if you’re more of a big city and culture buff) or the Maritime provinces in the East (if you like a mixture of history, nature, seafood, and small towns).

Here are my recommendations for three midsize Canadian cities which are great for solo travellers.

Fairmont Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC (midsize Canadian cities)

An iconic shot of lovely Victoria, capital of the province of British Columbia

Trend #3: Wellness trips will become more active

I like the sound of that personally. To me, a “wellness trip” always brought to mind spending a day in a luxury spa (expensive and rather boring in my opinion) or something like a detoxification retreat.

Hiking and cycling are activities that people of all ages can do, and it’s 10 times as much fun in exotic locales. You don’t need to be an athlete to go on a 10-km walk in the countryside. I find that I exercise a lot more, and it’s much more enjoyable, when I travel.

Let’s admit it: as we age we need more moving around and less lying down. For solo travellers, being active outdoors also makes it easier to meet others.

Trend #2: Emerging destinations will take the spotlight

I’m all for it! I love exploring new destinations that are just starting to open to tourism and where not everybody you know has gone yet. Because most people all go to the same countries, there are a lot of untrodden destinations out there.

This is actually one of the reasons why I’ve picked Taiwan for my winter vacation. Among other emerging destinations on my bucket list, besides the ones I mentioned in #9 are: Madagascar, Bhutan, Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia, and Uzbekistan.

Just as with #9, you’ll encounter more middle-age and older travellers in emerging destinations, some of them very interesting seasoned explorers.

Bagan, Burma

Here I am in Bagan, Myanmar in 2014

Trend #1: Solo travel will be at an all-time high

YES!!! It looks like the solo travel uptrend shows no sign of slowing down. This my friends, means that travel companies are finally starting to pay attention to us and design products to accommodate our needs. We will have more and more options that do not involve single supplements. And being seated at a small table in a corner or near the bathroom will soon be a thing of the past (or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part).

As I mentioned before, these travel trends were compiled by Intrepid Travel. You can read Intrepid’s article here to see all the new things they’re planning around these trends for 2018.

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