As we enter 2020, Exodus Travels is challenging travelers to resist what’s “trending” for 2020 and focus instead on “adventure as a means to discover and grow our best selves.” Here are 13 “non-trends” and tips that Exodus says 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, Exodus Travels says. Fortunately, there are ways to see the world that help lessen one’s carbon footprint: For instance, 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.
2. Embrace the Layover
Another way to fit two trips into one flight is by building a second stay into your layover. Skip wasting 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 plenty of opportunities to see more of the country, 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
This year, Exodus Travels suggests taking a friendly acquaintance (an “overworked colleague or frazzled gym buddy,” for instance) on an 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.
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 overtourism, 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 in 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
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, 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.
6. Don’t be Scared of Off-Seasons
With so much to see and do, 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 travelers. Exodus says to consider a safari in Namibia at the tail end of its rainy season in March, when prices—and crowds—are lower, 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. For those looking for a new source of vacation inspiration, recollecting your childhood ambitious can be a great start, Exodus Travels says. 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.
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 live action remake of "Mulan," Pixar’s upcoming road trip animation "Onward" and the adventure flick "Jungle Cruise." Exodus suggests to "trade perilous for premium” on a cruise down the Nile, learn about China’s feudal past while trekking its Great Wall, embrace a family tour of India, and tackle the jungle on your own riverboat on an Amazon River Cruise.
9. Face Your Fears
Travel is incredibly powerful, Exodus Travels says. Make this year about personal reflection and discovery by challenging your perceptions: Consider a destination that you’d be uncomfortable visiting 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 will 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. Catch a glimpse of polar bears hunting on the ice floes of Spitsbergen in Norway and see the brown bears 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 creatures are so crucial to their respective ecosystems.
11. Lay Waste to Excess – Buy Experiences Instead
A recent analysis conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics found that 74 percent 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 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, Exodus says.
12. Foray into the Final Frontier
Not space travel. Intrepid explorers can seek out a whole new world a little closer to home by taking a deep dive into the other final frontier: the oceans. Plunge deep beneath the surface of the planet’s most mysterious destination via small ship cruise into nautical regions beyond the tourist track. Surround yourself with 850 species of fish while snorkeling in the Seychelles, discover the underwater topography of reefs, atolls and channels while diving daily in the Maldives and see the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, alongside marine biologist and expedition leader.
13. Get Real About Travel
Exodus Travels says 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, getting lost); plus, Exodus adds, 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 rewards of a foodie-focused tour of Burgundy. Remember throughout the next year that, ultimately, it’s the ups and downs of travel that make it such a fun adventure.