Where in the world are we going in 2014? All over the map, if annual prognostications are any indication.
Fodor’s Travel directs us to 25 “can’t miss” places based on criteria that include “buzziness.” This year’s World Cup host, Brazil, makes the list, as does “hip, new, design-savvy” Detroit.
In its quest for value destinations, deals website Travelzoo lists five locales, including the Jersey Shore and Palm Springs, Calif. With top 10 countries, cities, regions and more, there’s hardly a spot on the globe that Lonely Planet doesn’t mention. And BuzzFeed’s 22 “stunning under-the-radar destinations” directs us to a single U.S. gem: Ohio’s woodsy Hocking Hills.
Meanwhile, Tripology, an online travel referral service (and division of USA TODAY) that connects travelers with travel agents, is betting on the usual suspects: Las Vegas; Cancun, Mexico; and Orlando, in that order, based on actual bookings.
Here are some trends and events likely to get us on the road in the coming year:
If 2013 was the year peer-to-peer travel arrangements gained traction, this is the year they will go mainstream. The so-called sharing economy now generates an estimated $3.5 billion a year, and its largest sector is travel.
What started with sites like Airbnb, Couchsurfing and Roomorama, which connect travelers with lodging in private dwellings, now includes peer-to-peer tour services (Vayable, CanaryHop); car sharing (RelayRides, Hubber, Lyft); and meal sharing (EatWith, Feastly, HomeDine). You can even rent bikes and skis (SpinLister) or a spot to pitch a tent (CampInMyGarden).
Some sites are kicking it up a notch in terms of service. Airbnb, which has more than 550,000 listings worldwide, launched a Hospitality Lab headed by Joie de Vivre hotel chain founder Chip Conley to train hosts for a more consistent guest experience.
Onefinestay injects a luxury-hotel sensibility into home stays through “carefully curated” listings and upgrades to registered properties, such as high-end linens and an iPhone with the absentee host’s suggestions for dining and shopping. It launched in London and New York in 2009 and added short-term rentals in Paris and Los Angeles in the fall.
Special events keyed to major milestones are surefire attention-getters. Among the notable commemorations in 2014:
Yosemite National Park celebrates 150 years of protected status (thank you, President Lincoln). Hundreds of events, most of them in surrounding communities, are planned throughout the year.
Within the park, June 30, the actual anniversary date, will be marked by a ceremonial groundbreaking among the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove to kick off a three-year rehab of visitor amenities in the area.
The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall sparks a series of special events and exhibits in the center of one of Europe’s most dynamic capitals. The highlight: the weekend around Nov. 9, when illuminated helium-filled balloons will line the 71/2-mile length of the wall that divided a nation, symbolized the Cold War and ultimately, became an emblem of a peaceful revolution.
Yes, it’s true that most Americans are a bit fuzzy on the basics of the War of 1812. But everyone knows the Star Spangled Banner, whose lyrics were written during the last gasps of that conflict by lawyer Francis Scott Key as he watched the Battle of Baltimore from a ship in the harbor.
Baltimore salutes the 200th anniversary of the anthem Sept. 6-16 with its Star Spangled Spectacular, which will bring replica 18th- and 19th-century tall ships along with modern warships into its Inner Harbor, among other hoopla. And yes, there will be fireworks — the largest display ever on the Chesapeake — on Sept. 13.
Back in the day, when Mom and Dad piled the kids and suitcases into the station wagon and set out on the highway, it was called “going to Grandma’s.”
Now, Mom and Dad are Baby Boomers with grandkids of their own, and gatherings among far-flung kin have a new name: multigenerational travel. It’s a movement born both of desire and marketing. And it’s growing.
Driving the trend are Boomers with the time and money to spend on their progeny, and a willingness to do so. (Enough stuff; bring on the experiences!)
Fueling the trend are hotels, tour operators and cruise lines eager to capitalize on this well-heeled, well-traveled bunch. About 21 million Americans took a multigenerational trip in 2011, according to a Preferred Hotel Group survey, and with 77 million Americans turning 65 in the next 20 years, there’s a glut of potential customers.
Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) has offered trips for grandparents and their grandkids since 1985. But in response to demand, the tour operator has more recently added 20 or so itineraries that welcome parents, too.
Clients “are gravitating to more exotic and expensive trips,” says Road Scholar’s JoAnn Bell.
With at least 20 new small ships splashing onto Europe’s rivers this year, competition is heating up. And that’s almost certain to make what is typically a luxury trip more affordable for passengers seeking an intimate cruise experience.
European river cruises rank fifth among 2014 international bookings made with Travel Leaders Group, according to a survey of 1,358 member agents.
READ MORE: 10 best reasons to take a river cruise
A number of lines are lowering, or even waiving, single supplements on some itineraries. Grand Circle Travel, for instance, has decreased (and in some cases, eliminated) surcharges for solo cruisers and added 1,160 single cabins to meet 2014 demand.
On this side of the pond, American Cruise Lines recently announced it will build four more river boats destined for U.S. waterways. They’ll sail in the next two to three years. The line’s first vessel, the Queen of the Mississippi, launched just 17 months ago.
Courtesy of USA Today