You might think travel exists outside of fashion and trends, that all of the world's destinations are always open to us to visit so there's no "cool" and "not cool" – but you'd be wrong.
Travel is fashion. Destinations are trends. Sometimes you don't realise it, but for the same reason you suddenly wanted to wear really baggy shorts in the late '90s, and T-shirts that changed colour when you got hot in the '80s, there are certain places you'll want to travel to now because they've come into fashion.
The following is a "hot list" of destinations, styles and activities. These aren't the classics, the places like Paris or Rome, that are always popular. They're the new trends; the up-and-comers.
Consider this a catwalk show for travel. Pretty soon everyone will be doing it …
Camino de Santiago, Spain
Ten years ago, there was a fair chance no one you knew had done the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrims' trail through France and northern Spain. Most had probably never even heard of it. Since then, however, the popularity of this mammoth hike has skyrocketed: in 2008, the Pilgrims Office recorded roughly 125,000 participants; last year, the number was about 327,000. That's a 161 per cent increase. The number of foreigners doing the Camino has jumped almost 300 per cent. Someone you know has now either done this, or is at least planning to.
The heel of a boot doesn't sound like the most glamorous place to be, and that's Puglia, the forgotten stiletto in Italy's far south. No one used to go to towns like Lecce and Monopoli. No one ventured that far from Tuscany and Rome. And then, suddenly, they did. This warm, friendly and affordable region has been experiencing double-digit growth for the past few years. You've probably seen it pop up on your social media feed – everyone is going to Puglia. Part of the attraction is that there are so few tourists, but that must be about to change.
This isn't just because I wrote a book about solo travel – but hey, if you want to grab a copy of Go Your Own Way I won't complain. This is big. Internet searches for solo travel are up. Tour companies such as Intrepid are offering special tours for those travelling alone. Travel booking platform Klook named solo travel its No. 1 trend for 2019. If you're planning on seeing the world alone … you're not.
Mount Everest, Nepal
I'd never have thought to label climbing the world's highest mountain as a trend until I saw the recent photo that has gone viral, of hundreds of intrepid climbers literally queuing up to get their moment at Mount Everest's summit. Something has gone seriously wrong when lives are being put at risk because everyone wants to do the same thing.
Taking a dip in the Dead Sea. Photo: Shutterstock
The Middle East is the little region that could, an area that cops so much bad publicity, and yet is becoming increasingly popular with travellers hoping to see things with their own eyes. Tourist arrivals into Israel are at record highs. More foreigners than ever are visiting the Palestinian Territories. Iran continues to grow in popularity. And Jordan – a country that has escaped the troubles its neighbours have suffered, plus has drawcards such as Petra and the Dead Sea – is receiving visitors in record numbers.
Personally, I could think of few things worse than going on holidays just to wake up early, drink raw vegetable juice and then spend a few hours twisting myself into unnatural positions, but other people love this stuff – a lot of other people. Lonely Planet named wellness travel the fastest growing sector last year. Of Booking.com's clientele, one in five planned to take a health and wellness trip in 2018. Wellness retreats are popping up all over the place. It's frightening.
Lisbon is going nuts, thanks to its affordability, its abundance of high-quality, independent hostels, its great nightlife and excellent food. This city used to be a bit off the beaten backpacker trail, given its location way out on the Iberian Peninsula, but no more. People are visiting. In 2008, Portugal as a whole received just under 7 million tourists. Ten years later, in 2018, that number was 21 million. If you feel like you're seeing a lot more photos of Portugal, and Lisbon in particular, in newspapers and on social media, then you're right.
Here's an interesting one. Egypt could once have been described as a classic destination, the sort of place you'd group with the likes of France and Italy, such was its popularity. And then things went seriously wrong, with terror attacks and political unrest leading to a sharp decline in visitors. Now though, people are going back. Only 5.4 million people visited the country in 2016; last year, nearly 9 million made the trek. And there's plenty of growth left in Egypt. Prepare to hear about this place a lot over the next few years.
You may have noticed, recently, that your friends are getting out there and doing some pretty adventurous stuff. Maybe they've been on cycling holidays or going hiking; maybe they've been doing boat trips or going kayaking; maybe they've been to Central America or southern Africa. They're doing that because a lot of other people are as well. Adventure travel is a thing right now, regardless of age or budget – chances are you'll be giving it a whirl soon too.
Have you noticed any travel trends emerging recently? Are there certain destinations or activities that are suddenly popular with your friends and family? Do you plan to do any of these things?