Spoiler alert: the world is huge. Even when we think we’ve seen all there is to see (or all there is we want to see), a globe-trotting friend, Insta post, or epic film will introduce us to a new destination we hadn’t yet considered. There’s always more to explore.
To help you in your quest to discover the next big thing in travel (before everyone else does), we’ve done the legwork. Literally. We’ve tightened the laces on our boots and hiked the mountains. We’ve donned fetching Lycra outfits and cycled across desert plains. We’ve eaten our bodyweight in kim chi, stripped off our kit at an onsen, and soaked up another year’s worth of local secrets from all across the globe. These are the experiences travellers want – and the Intrepid adventures where you can get ‘em.
1. We want adventures that are way off track
Now, more than ever, travellers are looking for experiences that’ll get them well out of their comfort zones. Unique, inspiring, challenging adventures are tipping the scales, with travellers opting for trips that’ll give them bragging rights. Sure, we all feel a bit smug after a week on a beach, but imagine how good your stories will be after three weeks driving from Kazakhstan to Mongolia in an ex-Soviet army vehicle, hiking up a volcano in North Sudan, or watching enormous icebergs float past the centre of town in Greenland? (Hint: exceptionally good.)
2. We want to use travel as a force for good
It’s up to all of us to be more conscientious when we travel, whether that’s paying to carbon offset our flights, choosing to stay in locally run accommodation over big chain hotels, and learning about different cultures and traditions in the places we visit. But there’s a shift towards an even deeper immersion; along with investing in local economies by eating in locally run restaurants, travellers are also actively looking to make the world a better place. That might be collecting plastic rubbish on a kayak around Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam (that will later be turned into eco bricks), or visiting an elephant conservation sanctuary in Laos, or joining a cooking class in Goreme that supports women’s incomes.
3. We want to make undertourism a thing
Overtourism is one of the biggest challenges facing the tourism industry right now. Gone are the days of hiking to a remote hot spring in Iceland with nary a soul in sight, or getting a good photo of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia without a forest of selfie sticks in frame. Travellers are, sadly, wrecking travel. Rather than adding to fray, Intrepid are travelling on different routes in destinations with huge amounts of tourists, and launching adventures in countries and regions that are new to tourism. Intrepid have also started replacing destinations on some trips that are under pressure from too many visitors, like heading to Cat Ba Island instead of Halong Bay in Vietnam and checking out the wildlife in Udawalawe National Park instead of Yala in Sri Lanka (and have stopped going to Cambodia’s Sihanoukville altogether).
4. We want to discover the great outdoors, one step at a time
Intrepid have made their crust on iconic hikes, to places like Everest Base Camp, Mt Kilimanjaro, and the Inca Trail. There’s not much better in life than slogging through a week – or more – of early mornings, gruelling uphills, and horror movie-esque toilets, to reach the top of a mountain (and then enjoying that very well-deserved shower and cold beer at the end). But if you’ve already tackled a few of the classics, or just want to hike a path that’s a little less trodden, there are a new wave of iconic treks to explore, like the Transcaucasian trail in Armenia, the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, and the Portuguese Camino in Portugal. Start those calf stretches now.
5. We want our accommodation to be more than just a hotel
At the end of a day’s exploring, we all want somewhere comfortable to lay our head and catch some honk shoos. But unique accommodation options are starting to move into the limelight. Intrepid have always highlighted authentic, locally owned accom on their trips (think Indian palaces, Moroccan gites and Japanese ryokans), but next year sees a wave of sustainable, experience-rich places to bunk down for a night or two. We’re talking wild campsites in the Transcaucasian Mountains, a jungle homestay in Calakmul, even a tepee in San Juan del Sur.
6. Families want to skip the theme parks and get active
Rollercoasters, fairy floss and plastic mouse ears are good for some, but more parents and carers are keen to give their kids a different kind of travel experience. Rather than doing the same things you’d do at home (or throw up on the Gravatron after too many hotdogs), Intrepid’s family vacays allow you to visit a destination where your kids can hang out with other kids from different cultures, try food they’ve never heard of, and learn about the world in a much more interesting way than they would at school. Intrepid are launching a new range of family cycling trips in 2020 too, so along with riding through some pretty epic landscapes, active families can look forward to sea kayaking in Thailand, cooking classes and snorkelling in Vietnam, and trying to avoid getting lost in a Fes medina.
Get ahead of the trends. Check out Intrepid’s full range of new tours for 2020 now!
All photos C/O Intrepid Travel.