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A new year, and a shiny new holiday allowance just waiting to be signed off. What to do with it? Well, if 2018’s travel trends are anything to go by, then you might consider skipping the beach and heading for the colder climes of Iceland or Norway. Prefer the energy of a city? Spend a few days wandering the storied streets of Porto, check into a ryokan in Tokyo or get stuck into K-pop in Seoul. If that’s not enough then extend your business trip, travel with your grandma and book through Amazon Echo. Welcome to travel in 2018.
Japan intends to double its number of overseas tourists by 2020, so it’s practically begging you to visit and bring your friends along, too. And The Land of the Rising Sun is about to become a whole lot more accessible – Norwegian Air has supposedly set its sights on opening up a route from London and Tokyo, with fares as low as £199 (watch this space). Even if you can’t make it over, you’ll be able to get a taste of Japanese culture across the world this year. According to Airbnb, bookings of ryokans – traditional Japanese inns that often come complete with open-air tubs – are already up 600% for 2018.
The term is hideous but the concept – adding on a couple of days for ‘leisure’ at the end of a business trip – makes sense. Everybody knows that you rarely get beyond your hotel room or conference centre while travelling for work, so extending a trip to see some of the sites allows you to make the most of a destination (while still getting your company to pick up the cost of your flight). Apps like TripSource offer an easy-to-use interface that makes the transition from business to leisure bookings smooth.
Hot is no longer, well, hot. Travellers in 2018 will increasingly seek out cold climates, with Iceland, Antarctica and Norway proving the most popular places. Why would you choose to shiver in a snowsuit instead of feeling the sun on your face? Experts have said that these places offer an into-the-wild escape from everyday stress like nowhere else on Earth. If we could have our pick, then Arctic Haven, a wilderness lodge that hosts safaris to see Arctic wolves, caribou, grizzly bears and wolverine, would be our choice.
Journeying by train harks back to the golden age of travel, a world that unfolded in sleek carriages with piano bars and clattering silver trays piled with flutes of champagne. The Trans-Siberian Express is a topical ride for 2018, with Russia being the host country of the football World Cup. Avoid the crowds with a journey that runs like a ribbon from Moscow to Vladivostok, stopping at the shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake along the way.
If 2017 was Lisbon’s year then 2018 belongs to Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. This riverside town is home to a topsy-turvy mix of Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, neo-Classical and Brutalist architecture, which sits atop Roman foundations. It’s smaller but somehow more lively than Lisbon and has a beach right on its doorstep. Don’t leave town without trying a francesinha, a local ham and steak sandwich that’s served covered in a tomatoey, beer-infused sauce and topped with melted cheese. Cantina 32 serves a delicious take on the classic. Afterwards head to 1872 River House hotel to sleep it off.
This year is all about 3G travel – that’s going away with three generations of your family at once (and nothing to do with data roaming). Holidays are so often linked to milestones – a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation or a promotion at work – and families are increasingly looking to celebrate together. Among the more practical reasons to make for the beach with grandma are the shared costs of accommodation and free childcare. On a sentimental level, it’s a chance to experience a new place with a group of people you love.
Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Gangneung in South Korea tops the list of trending destinations based on Airbnb bookings for this year. Anyone who’s travelling for the games should spend some time in Seoul, a futuristic hub of technology, infectious K-pop culture and some of the most cutting-edge fashion on the planet. The city’s Hotel Cappuccino has been lauded as Asia’s answer to the Ace Hotel.
Booking by voice command
The robots are coming, but for now we have Alexa. The booking website Kayak has ‘trained’ Amazon Echo so that you can book accommodation just by having a chat with the little round box. You might say: “Alexa, I need a hotel in Miami.” The device will ask you about your timings, your budget and then present a few details about the room. Book if you like the sound of it. Simples.