We’ve pulled together 10 fun reasons why travelers should be excited about travel in the New Year. Take a look our list of 2014 travel trends and see why the travel industry and travelers are gearing up for a good year.
1. Shorter Security Lines. US Customs and Border Protection and the TSA continue to innovate with automated passport kiosks and pre-check programs throughout domestic airports. While the jury’s still out about the efficiency of TSA’s PreCheck program, we think it’s a step in the right direction toward reducing crowds at airport security.
2. Healthy Dining. The travel industry recognizes that more travelers are seeking tips to stay healthy while traveling. Airlines have improved in-flight dining with more nutritious selections, and travelers are bringing healthy options onboard (post-TSA security line), like drinks to stay hydrated.
3. Upgrading Your Seat. Domestic airlines are reconfiguring their transcontinental cabins to lure high-paying passengers. JetBlue will debut its premium cabin, Mint, in July 2014. The cabin will have lie-flat seats, seat cushions that can be adjusted for firmness, a 15-inch personal flat screen with access to more than 200 DirecTV channels, in-flight Ka-band satellite Wi-Fi and a sliding door for privacy.
4. Checking Your Own Bags. Airlines are embracing the next wave of mobile technology, this time with digital luggage tags. British Airways is testing an electronic version that lets fliers use a smartphone app to update a reusable tag with their flight information. Expect to see more companies go hi-tech similar to Airbus’s RFID-embedded Bag2Go suitcases and Qantas’s Q Bag Tags.
5. Eating With Locals. In addition to local brew pubs, underground supper clubs are on the rise with websites like EatWith, which allows home cooks to invite travelers into their private dining rooms. Enjoy an unforgettable New Year’s Eve dinner in Rome for $91 or sample authentic Thai food in Chiang Mai for $25. Feastly in the US and Traveling Spoon, based out of San Francisco, are a few notable websites to visit for a home-cooked meal prepared by locals or chefs.
6. Grab-and-Go Dining at Hotels. Hotels are rethinking room service, including the New York Hilton Midtown, where they’ve opened a grab-and-go dining outlet in the lobby. Some hotels, like Public Chicago, deliver meals in a paper bag. NYC’s Hudson Hotel is another place that has adopted the new brown-bag service.
7. New “Working Wealthy.” The travel industry is looking to court a new demographic in 2014 — the working wealthy, time-crunched and adventurous travelers with cash to spend. Some cruise lines have already created shorter trips to meet their demand like Royal Caribbean’s 4-Night Western Caribbean Cruise.
8. Mobile Booking. In 2013, travelers became increasingly comfortable with planning, researching and booking trips on mobile devices, with mobile bookings increasing more than 60%. Expect more of the same in the New Year. According to the US Travel Association, in 2014 Americans will spend more on trips — as much as $789 billion on both international and domestic travel.
9. TV- and Movie-Inspired Travel. With the success of Breaking Bad and The Hunger Games’ Catching Fire this year, tourism boards — in Albuquerque, NM and Hawaii respectively — are reaping the rewards with an increase in tourists and tourism dollars flowing into these hot destinations. In the coming year, films like Grace of Monaco and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and returning TV shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones, will inspire travelers to follow in the tracks of their favorite characters.
10. Hip Hostels. Budget travel gets a makeover with new upscale hostels like MOXY in Berlin, London and Frankfurt. No longer just for backpackers, hostels will cater to the savvy budget-conscious traveler with chic rooms made for mingling and networking.
Did we miss a travel trend on our list? In the comments section below, tell us what you think will be a hot travel trend in 2014.