In 2018, top-end hotels and short-term rentals will continue to ramp up their emphasis on shared spaces and authentic experiences with fellow travellers and the local community… so pretty much exactly what hostels have been providing for decades: a place for globetrotters from every corner of the planet to get together and trade travel tales over a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. “Co-living” is the buzzword that marketing types will spit out, but we just know it as hostel life.
Over-tourism was the plague of 2017, with hordes of visitors choking places like Barcelona, Thailand and Venice. This year, travellers will dodge the crowd by discovering hot new destinations that haven’t yet made their way into the guidebooks… or social media influencers’ Instagram feeds. Backpackers will push new frontiers – thriving pockets of Eastern Europe, post-Winter Olympics South Korea and the less-explored northern reaches of South America are among 2018’s hottest destinations – while intrepid travellers will return to places they wrote off as too dangerous in recent years, such as the Middle East and North Africa.
The other reaction to over-tourism? The rise of ‘conscious travel’, where travellers seek out operators that protect the environment and support the local community. The UN’s World Tourism Organisation Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (now that’s a mouthful) raised awareness of eco-tourism last year, and that momentum has carried into 2018, with backpackers now more aware of leaving a lighter footprint as they trot the globe. Modern travellers not only expect big sustainability features from their accommodation – things like solar power and water-saving bathroom fittings – but also little touches like locally sourced food and sustainability building materials. Learn more about what YHA Australia is doing in this department.
The traveller of 2018 doesn’t just want to be green – they want to look buff doing it. While we returned from our Christmas getaway carrying an extra few kilos of carry-on luggage around the midriff region, more and more travellers are embracing the active travel trend, opting for activities cycling, hiking, surfing, and wellness retreats. YHA isn’t missing out on the fitness fad, with stacks of hostels offering bikes, surfboards, kayaks and even yoga for a budget getaway that’s as good for the physique as it is for the bank balance.
Google searches for the term “solo travel” are as high as they’ve ever been, indicating that more and more people are interested in roaming the planet with only themselves for company. Going it alone forces you out of your comfort zone, teaches you loads about yourself, boosts your self-confidence, and allows you to do your own thing without being bogged down by a travel buddy. Plus, you’ve got a common room full of new friends waiting for you back the hostel anyway!
If we’re not travelling solo, we want Mummy and Daddy holding our hands – and maybe even Nan and Pop, too. While a lot of people travel halfway across the world to escape those annoying “when can we look forward to grandchildren” conversations, it turns out that a lot of travellers actually like hitting the road with family, with “multigenerational travel” (fancy title) topping Virtuoso’s top travel trends of 2018. And you’ll be right at home with Gran and Dad and your second cousin-in-law twice removed in one of YHA’s spacious family rooms.
Whether they’re Bitcoin bazillionaires, Instagram models, travel bloggers, or freelancers doing far less glamourous work on their laptop, the rise and rise of digital nomads is set to continue in 2018. And they’re not the only travellers who’ll be making a dollar on the road, with strong numbers of working holiday makers coming to Australia, not to mention all those Aussies hustling their way around the world. A working holiday is a great way to see more of a destination than you would if you were just passing through for a couple of days.
With a pair of nutters in Pyongyang and Washington comparing the size of their nuclear buttons, Britain leaving Europe, and neo-nationalism heating up across the planet, travel’s ability to bring people together is more potent – and important – than ever. YHA’s mission is to foster friendship and understanding through travel, and people will embrace this philosophy in a year when Planet Earth desperately needs a little more peace and love. Groovy, man.