2020 is going to be all about embracing the unexpected, challenging world views, and redefining what adventure means to the individual.
The end of every year always brings about brand-new travel styles and the destinations a la mode meant to influence our vacation aspirations. This year, Exodus Travels is challenging us all to resist what’s “trending” for 2020 and focus instead on adventure as a means to discover and grow our best selves.
From forging personal connections in unexpected ways and making our childhood dreams come true to unplugging without compromise and mastering the art of mindful exploration, here are 13 non-trends and tips that can help the intrepid get the most out of their travels in 2020:
1. Back-to-Back Getaways
It’s a fact that in the fight to preserve our planet, we all need to fly less. Fortunately, there are ways to see the world that help lessen one’s carbon footprint. Booking two trips back-to-back and in the same destination not only allows eco-conscious explorers to spend less time in the air—it also lets them see, do and learn far more about a place than they normally would on a single trip. See Morocco’s Mountains & Imperial Cities from June 7-16, 2020, and after a quick break in Marrakesh, take a deeper dive into the Summits & Spices of Morocco from June 18-22, 2020 and come away with a true appreciation for this amazing country.
2. Embrace the Layover
Another way to fit two trips into one flight is by building a second stay into your layover. After all, between standing in endless lines, navigating terminal shuttles and then inevitably rushing to your flight, airports are never any fun, so why stick around longer than necessary? Refuse to waste away for hours at the gate and take advantage of a well-timed stopover with a micro-adventure instead. Global hubs like those in Reykjavík, the Netherlands and Beijing offer amazing opportunities to see more of their homeland, and many airlines encourage stopovers from anywhere between six hours to eight days, depending on when and where you fly.
3. Step outside your social comfort zone
We all have that person in our lives; the overworked colleague or frazzled gym buddy who could really use a vacation. This year, whisk a friendly acquaintance off on a whirlwind escape and connect with someone in a whole new way. Exodus’ Refer a Friend program allows past travelers to receive $100 off their next trip when they refer a new Exodus guest – and gives the new guest $100 off their first adventure — so there’s no better time to take a near-friend by the hand for five days of Landscapes & Limoncello in Amalfi, part of Exodus’ new Edits micro-tour collection.
4. Find Unexpected Fun in Famous Places
Rather than hitching onto the ghoulish “Last Chance” travel trend, which encourages vacationers to visit rapidly changing destinations before they disappear due to climate change or over tourism, aim for unexpected experiences in a well-known region instead. Rather than beelining for crowded Barcelona, go further afield and discover the Secrets of Tenerife on Spain’s Canary Islands. Skip the queue of safari trucks in South Africa and break away for a week of wine tasting, kayaking with penguins and surfing on sand dunes, or pass over the crowds of Rome to cycle the backroads of Italy’s Prosecco hills.
5. Power Down
Think about it: When was the last time you actually forgot to check your phone? In a world filled with digital distractions, being able to truly unplug has become the epitome of self-care and indulgence. In 2020, challenge yourself to leave the tech at home in favor of a tech-free experience—you may be surprised how much more meaningful a getaway can become. Rather than scrolling and sharing, surf and stretch your way through a wellness-focused Digital Detox in Portugal. Forget Google Maps and let your senses lead you through a street food tour of Saigon. Or, see how long you can live without a selfie on an expedition of the Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand, and experience the world through a whole new lens.
6. Don’t be Scared of Off-Seasons
With so much to see and do in this wide world of ours, there’s really no such thing as a bad time to travel these days. It’s a good thing too, because not many appreciate how magical it can be to snowshoe in the Dolomites or go winter walking in the Austrian Tyrol—unless you’ve visited outside high season. As overtourism continues to be a concern around the world, travelers should be encouraged to visit their bucket list destinations when they’re less likely to be overrun with fellow tourists. Safari Namibia at the tail-end of its rainy season in March, when prices—and crowds—are on the low end, or experience Mexico at its best before and after the snowbird season in April and November.
7. Make Your Childhood Dreams Come True
Most of us caught the “travel bug” before we were even allowed to walk to school by ourselves, thanks to Disney movies, video games and flipping through our grandparents’ National Geographic collections. For those looking for a new source of vacation inspiration, recollecting our childhood ambitious can be a great start. Whether your young self’s travel dreams included a Jungle Book-driven visions of an India tiger safari, pirate-inspired longing to sail the high seas or a Galapagos obsession brought about by biology class, honor your inner child in 2020 by fulfilling their quest-related fantasies with the trip of a lifetime.
8. The Heart of Adventure is in Hollywood
While last year saw wildlife-focused films like the Lion King inspiring animal-lovers to seek out their favorite characters in the wild, the big screen of 2020 is shining a spotlight on the thrill of adventuring abroad with premier films such as: the Agatha Christie adaptation Death on the Nile starring Gal Gadot; Disney’s much-anticipated live action remake of Mulan; Pixar’s upcoming family-focused road trip animation Onward and the star-studded adventure flick, Jungle Cruise. There’s no need for movie magic to live out your own daring hero’s journey; trade perilous for “premium” on a cruise down the Nile, learn about China’s feudal past while trekking its Great Wall, embrace Onward’s bonding message on a family tour of India, and tackle the jungle on your very own riverboat on an Amazon River Cruise.
9. Face Your Fears
Travel is incredibly powerful. It’s a catalyst for curiosity, compassion and human connection—all of which are so important in our ever-changing world. Make this year about personal reflection and discovery by challenging your perceptions. Consider a destination that you’d be uncomfortable visiting—perhaps due to negative press or peer opinion—and seek to understand it better by speaking with someone who lives there or has visited before. Improve your awareness by asking questions and learning about its history, then think about taking an Egyptian odyssey, cycling through Colombia or tracking leopards in Sri Lanka. Facing your travel fears in 2020 won’t just open your eyes to something new—it’ll positively impact destinations that rely on tourism as well.
10. Have a Very “Beary” New Year
With globetrotting grizzlies, panda twins and Discovery’s hit new show Man vs. Bear, the family Ursidae is having a moment, and is Exodus’ “It” animal for 2020. Found on every continent except Antarctica, bears are powerful, beautiful, and perhaps most importantly, drivers for conservation. Catch a glimpse of polar bears hunting on the ice floes of Spitsbergen in Norway and see the mythical Ursus arctos fish for salmon along Canada’s Orford River. Follow the “little bear” trail on a wildlife walk into Finland’s Brown bear habitat, or watch bears from a hide deep in the forests of Romania, and learn why these revered creatures are so crucial to their respective ecosystems.
11. Lay Waste to Excess – Buy Experiences Instead
From fast fashion to plastics, it’s well known by now that North America spends too much money on stuff, but a recent analysis conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics found that 74% of Americans are prioritizing experiences over products or things. Set a New Year’s resolution to choose exploration over excess: Trade in 12 months of shoddy new shoes for a tour of Marrakesh and the Sahara; brown bag a year of lunches in favor of a Vietnam Food Adventure, and resist the urge toward that new car smell by opting to explore Russia’s Kamchatka instead.
12. Foray into the Final Frontier
No, we’re not talking about space travel. While the over-eager promise of intergalactic tourism sorts itself out in the years to come, intrepid explorers can seek out a whole new world a little closer to home by taking a deep dive into the other final frontier: our oceans. Plunge deep beneath the surface of our planet’s most mysterious destination via small ship cruise into nautical regions beyond the tourist track. Surround yourself with 850 species of fish while snorkelling in the Seychelles, discover the fascinating underwater topography of reefs, atolls and channels while diving daily in the Maldives and see the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for yourself alongside marine biologist and expedition leader, Brad Climpson.
13. Get Real About Travel
There’s no better time to practice the art of mindfulness—accepting the unexpected and learning to live in the present moment—than on a self-guided trip. Travel is by nature unpredictable and challenging — flight delays and getting lost are just part of the adventure! Plus, there’s nothing more rewarding that realizing your own self-reliance, being real and keeping calm as you lose your way along Spain’s’ Camino de Santiago, or walking the wine villages of Italy. Show yourself what you’re capable of bicycling from Vienna to Budapest, or reap the tasty rewards of persistence on a foodie-focused tour of Burgundy. Wherever and whenever you choose to test your mindfulness mettle, remember throughout the next year that ultimately, it’s the ups and downs of travel that make it such a beautiful adventure.