Resolved to travel more in 2020? Experts offer tips on
where and when to go.
If you plan to travel to more charming and culturally diverse destinations in the new year, this story should come in handy.
For CNBC, we reviewed a handful of the many “Best places to go” lists issued this time of year and asked travel industry experts for advice on the best times and reasons to visit certain cities.
When to go
Your vacations may be ruled by school vacations and crunch
times at work, but, “If budget is
your number one priority for travel in 2020, it behooves you to consider flying
in winter months as nearly all major US cities boast their lowest median
booking price in either January or February,” said Kelly Sunderland, travel
trends expert for travel site Hipmunk.
Where to go
On its Best in Travel 2020 list, Lonely Planet picked Salzburg, Austria
as the number-one city to visit next year, ranking Washington, DC second and
Cairo, Egypt third.
Festival [July 18 –
August 30] is turning 100, and this heart-stealer of an Alpine city is singing
about it at the top of its voice,” said Lonely Planet writer Kerry Walker, “One
of the world’s greatest classical music shindigs, the festival is always a
riotous feast of opera, classical music and drama–and never more so than in
Bhutan topped Lonely Planet’s list of countries to
visit in 2020, with England in second place and North Macedonia in third.
“A dozen nations vie for the title of real-life Shangri-La,
claim has more clout than most,” said Lonely Planet writer Joe Bindloss, “This tiny piece of Himalayan paradise operates a strict
‘high-value, low-impact’ tourism policy, compelling travelers to pay a high
daily fee [$250] just to set foot in its pine-scented, monastery-crowned hills.”
Bhutan also topped the Rough Guides
list of the 4
Best Countries to visit in 2020, followed by Ethiopia, Austria (where
Vienna will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of
Beethoven) and Montenegro.
In its 2020 Luxe Report, global luxury travel network Virtuoso shares trends already influencing bookings for next year.
“Italy continues its reign as the global favorite, as well as
the top spot for solo travelers,” the report notes, “while Croatia heads the
list of emerging destinations, attracting buzz due to the Game-of-Thrones
effect as well as its rich history and convenience to other major European
In Virtuoso’s survey, Antarctica takes the top spot for adventure travel in 2020, with Greece showing up as the top destinations for Millennials as well as second on the global destinations list and a third-place for honeymoons.
In Plymouth, MA, “Plimoth Plantation is actually a
really fun experience, with or without kids,” said Lindsay Taylor-Lauer of Takfiri
Travel, a Virtuoso Agency, “And in New England there is something for everyone
to do and explore, from the Azorean Restaurant in Gloucester, MA to the gilded
mansions in Newport, Rhode Island and minkes [whales] popping from the water as
you ferry from Dennis Port to Martha’s Vineyard on Cape Cod.”
Destinations topping the list in the United States
and Canada are Athens, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; and Newfoundland,
Canada. Sicily’s Aeolian Islands top the list for destinations to head for in
Europe, followed by Albania and Andalusia, in the southern part of Spain.
Destinations are broken down by region (Africa/Middle East,
Asia, South America, etc.) and, as a nice bonus, there is also a Go List 2020
playlist on Spotify to help you get in the travel-planning mood.
For its Best
Trips 2020 list, National Geographic picked 25 must-see destinations and travel
On the list: Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park, which celebrated its
centennial in 2019, and Philadelphia, PA, described as “an American classic” reinventing
itself for a new generation in much the same way Detroit, Cleveland and
Cincinnati have been doing, “but better.” National Geographic’s Best Trips list
also suggests Tasmania, Australia and Southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert, one of
the world’s few International Dark Sky Sanctuaries.
And if a trip to Japan has been on your list for a while, keep in the mind that the 2020 Summer Olympics take place in Tokyo this year from July 24 through August 9 and there will be packages and tours heading that way.
Where are upscale Americans spending their travel dollars?
Should you do what they do?
Wealthy or not,
it’s good to know where the well-do-to are vacationing and where the
up-and-coming “it” destinations will be for the next few seasons.
A shortcut to that intel comes from the advisors
who consult with upscale Americans about their vacation goals and bucket lists
and then book those journeys.
So where are well-to-do Americans jetting off to? Here’s a story I put together recently for CNBC.
Global luxury travel network Virtuoso polled
advisors, crunched numbers from $49.5 billion in bookings and transactions for
September through December 2019 and shared a couple of Top 10 lists as well as insights
on some emerging travel trends.
The Top 10 destinations
increasingly choose to travel domestically for the holidays,” notes Virtuoso,
which puts the United States, with its vast array of destinations and
attractions, in the lead spot in the Top 10 list.
As it has in the past, Europe’s appeal as a
summer destination is extending into the fall this year, with destinations such
as Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain in spots 2, 3, 4, 8 and
10, respectively, on the Top 10 list.
South Africa and Israel, in the middle of the
list, at #5 and #6, remain popular destinations for families seeking “trips of
a lifetime” during the holiday season, according to Virtuoso. And Japan, the top
emerging “it” country in Virtuoso’s 2019 Luxe Report, takes its place on the Top
10 list of fall and holiday season destinations at #9.
Luxury leisure travel bookings being made by advisors in the
Ovation Travel Group for 2019 and 2020 seem to be following those trends, said Gina
Gabbard, Ovation’s Senior Vice President of Leisure & Independent Advisors.
“Italy is overwhelmingly the hands-down favorite among
international destinations, with increased interest now in Southern Italy,”
said Gabbard, “Our advisors note its amazing food and wine, culture and
diversity of things to do, including history and art, along with available luxury
accommodations. Direct flights from the U.S. are a plus.”
Despite concerns about Brexit, bookings to the United Kingdom
are holding their own, said Gabbard, “The added benefit to our clients is that
the value of the U.S. dollar is so strong against the pound.”
Virtuoso’s Hot 10 list
Virtuoso also shared its “Hot 10” list, which
is made up of countries experiencing the largest increases by percentage in
year-over-year bookings. In some cases, the increases come from a country and
its offerings being “discovered” or better promoted; in other cases, political
fears may be subsiding.
For September through December 2019, the list
is topped by Uruguay (up 286 percent), which Virtuoso attributes to the
country’s award-winning wineries, pleasant climate and adventure opportunities.
Bookings are also way up for travel to the beach
retreats of the Maldives (up 171 percent) as well as Malta (up 140 percent),
Romania (135 percent) and Egypt (up 122 percent). Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Qatar,
South Korea and the fjords of Norway (up 96 percent) round out the “Hot 10”
Where are upscale Americans staying?
“We’re seeing a rise in exclusive-use travel
as people look for the ultimate in privacy and seclusion while getting away
from it all,” said Misty Belles, Virtuoso’s managing director for Global Public
Relations, “Home rentals, from villas to condos, jumped 56 percent this year,
with millennials and multigenerational trips both contributing to the growing
popularity in residences.”
Belles says private yacht travel is also gathering momentum
as people look to escape crowds and explore smaller, lesser-known ports of
When it comes to hotel
stays, Becky Powell, President of Virtuoso-member Protravel International, says
hyper-personalized stays are in.
are using technology to connect and build relationships with guests and
instantly fix issues,” says Powell. Hotels are also focusing on sustainability
and emphasizing connections to the destination or city they are in with local
partnerships and unique experiences, she said.
Upscale travelers and overtourism
Lots of stories about overtourism have been in then news, “But
now we are seeing it translate into client conversations and influence
decisions,” said Jack Ezon, founder of Virtuoso member Embark, “Our clients
want to feel like travelers, not tourists. And no matter how wealthy they are,
they don’t want to see a Prada or Gucci on every corner,” he said.
Instead, Ezon says upscale travelers are increasingly seeking out charming and “new” secondary destinations, staying in neighborhoods beyond the popular city centers and traveling during the off or shoulder-seasons not to save money, but to have more of the city to themselves.
Have a destination you’d like to tell us about? Please share your tips in the comment section below.
It is a stay at home holiday for some people today. But a travel day for millions. At that means some people will end up stuck at the airport.
It can happen anytime, of course. But as the busy summer travel season kicks into gear, I’ve been asked to work up some airport travel tips for the Weather Chanel audience.
Here are my notes for my appearance, currently scheduled for early Tuesday. Please feel free to add your notes too.
Practice. Seems silly, but often in the rush to get to the airport we forget that we’ll have to partially unpack at the security checkpoint.
Make sure you’re wearing socks without holes, shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. And have your potions and lotions and electronic gear easiy accessible in your carry-on bag.
Leave your guns at home.
TSA finds about 100 guns – most loaded – at checkpoints each week. I’ve given up wondering why people need so many guns. But if you carry a gun around town, check to see that you’ve taken it out of your purse or briefcase before you head to the airport.
Don’t miss the fun.
Look at the “passenger amenities” or “services” section of the airport website. (And subscribe to StuckatTheAirport.com).
Many airports have art or history exhibits, a unique shop or restuarant, even a special observation deck you may miss if you just get to the airport and stick by your gate.
Bring a wide mouth refillable water bottle. You don’t have to buy an overpriced bottle of water. More and more airports have bottle refill stations. Spend your money on something else.
Charge your phones and gadgets before you leave home.
Yes – there are more outlets in more places in airports. But someone else always seems to be using them when you’ need them.
And often they don’t even work. (Expert tip: check to see if that bank of chairs with outlets is plugged in before you use a chair outlet.)
To be a hero bring along a power cord with extra plugs so others can share.
Check to see if there are mobile apps – such as GRAB – you can use to order food ahead that you can just pick put at airport restaurant instead of waiting in line.
An increasing number of airports have At Your Gate and Airport Sherpa – which allow you to order food (and even neck pillows) and have the order delivered to you anywhere in the airport.
Bring snacks. You never know when you’re going to be delayed at the airport. Having something in your bag will keep you from getting cranky and from overspending at the airport and on the airplane, where free snacks can be limited or non-existent.
Shortcut the customs and immigration line.
If you’re traveling out of the country and don’t have Global Entry (a paid program) download the free Mobile Passport app for when you’re coming back through customs.
Either program allows you to shortcut your way through that often very long customs line. Look for the signs or ask the folks stationed along the lines for where to go as the Mobile Passport sign is often not easy to spot.
The Mobile Passport app lets you answer the customs questions on your phone before you even leave the plane and sometimes you can breeze right by the folks who have to wait on a line to fill out those questions at the Global Entry kiosk. Hah!
Bring mad money.
I carry a $10 bill – sometimes $20 – to use as mad money in case I end up stuck somewhere mad and frustrated. I buy myself a treat; a cocktail, some candy, an overpriced coffee drink, a silly souvenir. I deserve it.
Have a tip to add to this list? Please include it in the comments sections below.
Flying somewhere this Thanksgiving? Here are tips to keep sane.
A lot of turkey wishbones – and travel records – are set to be broken during the Thanksgiving holiday this year.
AAA expects 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holiday, a 4.8 percent increase over last year and the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005.
For the 48.5 million Americans expected to travel by car over the holiday, the best advice is: leave early. INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts that in the country’s most congested cities the Thanksgiving drive over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house could take four times longer than it might on a ‘normal’ travel day.
Traffic at airports and in the skies will break records as well.
For the holiday period, which officially begins Wednesday, November 21 and runs through Sunday, November 25, the Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 25 million people at U.S. airports, a 7 percent increase over last year.
Looking a bit broader at the 12-day Thanksgiving air travel period already underway, Airlines for America (the airline trade organization) predicts a record 30.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines.
That’s up from the estimated 29 million passengers who flew during Thanksgiving last year.
Flying over Thanksgiving? Travel tips for the airport
As with driving or going anywhere over the holiday, the key advice for flying is: leave for the airport early.
That not only helps reduce stress, but builds in extra time for all those things that can go wrong, such as discovering your favorite airport parking lot is already filled up or there’s a hiccup with your airline ticket.
Transportation Security Administration officials say new screening technologies, coupled with an additional 80 passenger screening canine teams and more than 1,200 TSA officers will help with the increased volume of passengers at airport security checkpoints this year. But there may still be long, slow-moving lines at many airports.
To make sure you’re not the person holding up the line, take some extra time when prepping and packing to make sure your carry-on items are checkpoint-savvy.
*Dress for success: Transfer small items, such as wallets, phones and keys, from your pockets to your carry-on before you get to the checkpoint. Wear shoes or boots that are easy to take off and put back on.
*Download and print your boarding pass. Putting your boarding pass on your mobile phone means one less paper to keep track of. But a paper version is good back-up in case your phone loses its charge while you’re waiting on a long line, or if the checkpoint scanner can’t read the downloaded version of your pass.
*Review the rules. If you’re an infrequent traveler, find a quart-sized clear bag and take a moment to read TSA’s primer on the liquids rule.
If you’re traveling with food to eat during your journey or with a turkey or something else destined for the Thanksgiving table, you will likely be asked to take it out of your bag and put it in a separate bin for a ride through the x-ray machine.
TSA allows turkeys, turkey sandwiches, pies cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints, but foodstuffs that are liquid, such as jellies and cranberry sauce, need to travel in checked bags.
Unsure if your food it a liquid or gel? TSA’s “What can I bring” tool, available on line and as an app, can help and you can send a question about a specific item to @AskTSA on Twitter.
Here are some other tools and tips that might help smooth out your Thanksgiving flying journey.
*Charge up your phone and other travel gadgets, including one or more back-up chargers, before you leave home. While airports have added more power ports, finding an empty one can still be a challenge. Show up with a power cord with extra plugs, and you’ll be a hero.
*Download the apps for your airline and all airports you’re traveling through and sign up for the alerts for each of your flights.
*Get numbers. Make a list of all the phone numbers you might need for your trip. The list should include not only your airline, but also the rental car or shuttle company you’ve booked with, your hotel, the person picking you up and the person who dropped you off (in case you left something behind). Put those numbers in your phone and on paper.
*Pack extras. Bring along snacks, a hefty amount of patience, and your sense of humor. Add a stash of ‘mad money’ to your wallet. That way, if something goes wrong despite all your planning and preparation you’ll be prepared to buy yourself or your family a stress-busting treat.