The world was turned upside down last month when a thirteenth zodiac sign was announced….
Ready to nail your travel plans for 2020 and beyond? You will be after reading this.
Well, Canberra, this is it. We’re officially in a new and exciting decade.
2020. It’s a big number and for those of us who eagerly awaited the turn of the millennium, an event twenty years in the past, 2020 feels like the future, doesn’t it? What will 2020 bring you? How about some killer travel plans?
With travel prices consistently maintaining record lows, 2020 is your year to get out there and experience more of the world. I have some hot tips on where to go, trends to watch and how to get the best deal.
Where to go
I am going to recommend you try a new tactic when choosing your travel destination for 2020.
Forget where the media is telling you to go, ignore the ‘most regularly visited’ and ‘most talked about’ destinations or those found within the most popular guide books and brochures and find a place on the earth that calls to you.
I’m not saying you have to find a place with no tourists—there is a reason why some places are popular and it is generally because they are worth visiting but I am suggesting you avoid the current travel trends.
A fun technique is to think about the big tourist destinations, what experiences you want from those and flip to an alternate, less touristy location. Here’s how.
Want a South Pacific getaway without the trappings of big multinational chain resorts like in Fiji? Then try Samoa, Tonga or the Cook Islands where tourism is far more low key and locally driven.
Want to experience the history, architecture and culture of the great European cities but don’t want to spend hours shuffling through crowds in cities like London, Paris and Rome?
Head for cities like Lyon in France, Bruges in Belgium or Kotor in Montenegro where your travels will be far less stressful and arguably more enriching when not shared with 7 million other tourists.
You might want to swap Las Vegas for San Antonio, Texas where cafe-lined pedestrian promenades weave along the riverfront and the colonial heritage will enrich your understanding of the history of the United States.
Or maybe you want to avoid Japan because of the 2020 Olympics and instead head for the Philippines where you can experience bustling local life in cities like Manila, white sand beaches on islands like Boracay and Spanish colonial history in locales like Vigan.
Getting the best deal
Airfares have been maintaining record lows for some time now and 2020 looks like it will be no different.
There are lots of ways to keep your eye out for the best deals, some techniques more labour intensive than others.
I personally like to get big returns from little investment of my time and have found that with a service called FareDrop which I have been using since its inception in 2019. Quite frankly I have never seen fares this low.
Not to say they weren’t always out there—they were—but the nature of travel deals is that they are fleeting and FareDrop can let you know when the best of the best deals are released so you can jump on them immediately.
It should be noted that Faredrop is not a booking facility and they aren’t contracting their own deals—it’s a subscription-based alert service to let you know when extremely low prices are released for sale.
Instead, these are publically available airfares you can book through many different channels such as with travel agents or online. FareDrop will send you a text message to let you know when prices drop well below the average for whatever destination criteria you have set up with them.
Some examples I have seen in the last few months are: Canberra to Los Angeles return $898. Sydney to Jakarta return for $345. Sydney to Manila return $274. Sydney to Phnom Penh return $389. Canberra to Osaka return $701.
Trends to Watch
A new year brings with it new ways to travel as well as a reinvigoration of old ways to travel.
The hectic pace of life means that slower ways to travel are once again becoming popular.
Train travel is one of these modes of transport that is seeing a renaissance. Sure, you can hop through 10 European cities in two weeks via regular commuter-style airline services.
But you could also grab a rail pass—single country preferably—and really see a country as you make your way through it. Imagine rolling through the mountains of Switzerland, indulging in local cheese and wine, interacting with the locals and spending enough time to really get to know the culture. Sounds divine, doesn’t it?
Another destination well served by extensive rail networks is the United States where Amtrak can take you end-to-end. Canada has Viarail as well as the spectacular tourist services such as the Rocky Mountaineer. Much of mainland Europe is serviced by Eurail where the tourist passes will allow you affordable options for anywhere from a few days up to three months of travel. Russia has the Trans Siberian. India has everything from your local services where you can hang out the door as you make your way from A to B through to the most luxurious trains in the world such as the Palace on Wheels or the Maharaja’s Express. Maybe you want to make your way around South Africa in style on luxury services like the Blue Train or Rovos Rail?
Along the same lines as taking a break from your standard pace of life, holidays offering a Digital Detox are becoming ever more popular.
You don’t have to head to a luxury wellness retreat for this either, just choose a destination with no wi-fi. Head to Bhutan, Cuba and Greenland where you will be hard-pressed to log online or just head to some of the more remote locations within the earth’s more populated countries.
How about Sequoia National Park in the United States or The Black Forest in Germany—or stay close to home in an Australian National Park such as Kakadu, where wifi access is limited.
AVOID THE PITFALLS
My top tips for avoiding the trappings of tourism in 2020 are:
*Book early. Waiting for a sale often does not pay off as overall airfare trends are that prices increase as seats sell. Airfares are released for sale around 11 months ahead and consider booking that early for the best prices, especially if you have one specific destination in mind. Or keep your destination choices wide open so if you are using a service like FareDrop you are flexible enough to take advantage of the deals on offer.
*Don’t find your next holiday destination on Pinterest or Instagram unless you want to be surrounded by millions of other tourists who also found it the same way.
*Do your research and don’t forget the basics. It can be easy to forget the basics when you are swept up in the excitement of planning. Don’t forget that you can’t travel to most destinations without six months validity after your date of return on your passport and for many places you still need a visa that must be obtained from a consulate prior to departing.
Some of these visa arrangements have moved online but with that comes scams. Always ensure you are obtaining your visa from the official visa issuing authority, a fake visa from a fake website will see you denied boarding of your flight.
*If in doubt use a travel agent. Not sure if you are getting a good deal, booking the best flights, have the right visa or have planned a logical itinerary? Head to one of Canberra’s amazing travel agents who can take care of all of this for you.
Feature image: Boracay.