Hottest travel trends and holiday destinations for 2020

Travelling Well | Michael Gebicki | Posted on 07 January 2020

As we enter a new decade, these are the travel trends set to take flight in 2020.

Where will we go in 2020? Where will we find our fresh pastures, our new fascinations, and what are the trends that will shape our travels in the coming decade? These are the hottest travel trends and undiscovered destinations to check out in the ’20s (plus the top 10 travel scams to watch out for).

Houseboats on Vembanad Lake, Kerala, India, with thick palm tree forest behind

Houseboats on Vembanad Lake, Kerala, India.

Eight of the hottest travel trends for 2020


Emerging holiday destinations


Pocket-sized Montenegro welcomed just over two million tourists in 2018, barely 15 per cent of those who packed into northern neighbour Croatia, yet its credentials are every bit as appealing. Along its 280-kilometre coastline, you can lie on a beach with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, dine on figs and olives with air-dried ham at a waterfront cafe, and sleep in a former Byzantine monastery plastered to the side of a cliff. The long arm of the Venetian empire is evident in Kotor, a knot of dark passages that open to piazzas furnished with churches and cafe tables, set deep within the fiord-like fastness of its bay. Base yourself on the coast and make forays into Montenegro’s rocky, craggy hinterland of steep mountains and valleys furnished with lakes and swift-flowing rivers. Among the treasures is Lake Skadar, the largest freshwater lake in south-eastern Europe, ringed by medieval monasteries.


Georgia might be small but it cuts a fiercely individual presence. Its religion, language and ethnicity set it apart from the Turkic and Slavic people that surround it. In the Old Town of Tbilisi, the capital, are caravanserais that would once have seen spices, silks, porcelain and glass, the luxuries of the Eastern and Western worlds. Kakheti, in the east, is the breadbasket, a patchwork of farms, orchards and forests, ramping skywards from vineyards and strawberry fields into the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. In the north-east, Svaneti is the wild child in the Georgian family. Majestic, mountainous and sown with drama, Svaneti feels like a place that humans were never meant to live. It is also unbelievably lovely when spring, coming late to these high valleys, sets white cherry blossoms exploding across the hills and turns fields into yellow plains of buttercups.  

Kerala, India

The long, narrow strip along India’s south-west coast, Kerala is where India meets South-East Asia in a liquid landscape of rice paddies, coconut palms and lotus flowers, where no temple is complete without its resident elephant. Kochi, Kerala’s largest city, sits on a cluster of islands at the edge of the Arabian Sea with the focus on Fort Cochin, once the centre of a thriving spice trade that drew merchants from pre-Christian Europe and the Middle East. The great Keralan adventure is the journey along the backwater. Enterprising local merchants have converted traditional Keralan rice barges into swish houseboats, complete with drivers and cooks, a perfect way to experience the vast and intricate network of palm-fringed canals, lakes and rivers that winds through a jade tapestry of rice fields.

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum – which will be the world’s largest museum of Egyptian civilisation, a central repository for the treasures of ancient Egypt – is expected to open in 2020. With visitor numbers predicted at five million per year, the museum should give a much-needed boost to Egyptian tourism, still suffering from years of internal strife. 

Upper Svaneti UNESCO-World Heritage Site Ushguli Village Georgia

The UNESCO-listed Ushguli Village in the Upper Svaneti region of Georgia.

UNESCO heritage castle rising out of crystal clear waters of brilliant blue lake in Kotor, Montenegro

Enchantingly blue waters in Kotor, Montenegro.

Emerging travel trends

Economy seats with more stretch room

It’s those precious centimetres between your knees and the seat in front that determine the pleasure of the in-flight experience when you’re flying long-haul in economy. Sold under various names - Economy X, Economy Stretch, Extra Comfort and Economy Space as well as the original Economy Plus introduced by United Airlines in 2015, this new class gives you enhanced legroom, between about 7.6cm and 12.8cm, and a greater recline angle for a modest surcharge. Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways, United and Hawaiian Airlines now offer the stretch seats to Australian flyers, typically at a cost of around $200 for a flight that might be 8-15 hours (more: How to get a good night's sleep while you're travelling).

A new twist to culinary tourism 

If you’re looking for authenticity from your travels, it doesn't get any more real than sitting down for a family dinner with the locals. Home is where the true gastronomic stars often shine brightest, and there are now several websites that put you in touch with locals for a home-cooked meal. It’s cultural as well as culinary, a window on domestic life that travellers rarely get to see. Traveling Spoon, Eat With, Meal Sharing and Bon Appetour are a few examples. 

Heritage travel

Move over wellness holidays. The advent of home DNA testing kits has shed light on our family history, awakening desires to see the countries of our ancestors. DNA-testing company 23andMe has recently formed a partnership with Airbnb to facilitate end-to-end ancestry trips that might lead you to some surprising places, and eventually to Africa, where we all began.

For Greta effect

Greta Thunberg, poster child for the eco-conscious, has shone the spotlight on travel with particular focus on the ever-increasing contribution that air travel makes to CO2 emissions. Finding alternatives to air travel is a tough ask for Australians, but expect more travellers to choose rail over flights wherever possible (more: Australia's best rail journeys).

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