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Hot travel trends and destinations for 2020

If you’re interested in venturing beyond our island paradise, here are the hottest travel trends and destinations for 2020, from going solo to going into space, plus a top dining destination closer to home.

By B.C. Rausch

Outdoor market in Bangkok, Thailand

Solo travel

It’s become common to hit the road on your own, letting your travels be enriched by the people you meet along the way. Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

Girlfriend getaways

Science has proven that taking a vacation with friends can be good for your health. A girlfriends’ getaway can extend life expectancy, lower chances of heart disease, and just make you feel good. My annual getaway has been pegged “Girls Gone Mild!”

Space travel

If your wallet and spirit of adventure are up for it, get on the waiting list for a journey into space. NASA plans to open the International Space Station for “private astronaut missions” later this year. Stay tuned for the most expensive hotel room ever.

Ancestry trips

Swab, seek, and find. With the popularity of DNA kits and ancestry research, people are literally getting back to their roots. Companies like 23andMe and Ancestry offer travel opportunities based on your genes.


Luxury train travel

The romance of the rails is eternal. Trains are being restored to their golden-era glory, including five-course meals, deluxe sleeping accommodations, live entertainment, and onboard concierge service. Europe boasts the most famous luxury rails but North American options like The Canadian (Vancouver to Toronto) are popular, too.

Vancouver, British Columbia by rail


Instagram is having a huge effect on travel. Posts and pix of faraway destinations from real people can seem more trustworthy than fancy brochures and online sales pitches. Social-media photo ops were a top reason among millennials for choosing a vacation spot.

By the book

“Literary travel” — following a favorite author, book, or book festival — is hot. Top trips in the United States include a Mark Twain-themed trip to Hannibal, Missouri, or an NYC getaway based on The Great Gatsby. Among book festival locales are events in Harbor Springs, Michigan; Phoenix and Baltimore.

Sunday Dinner Club, Chicago

Underground supper clubs

Traveling for good food has gotten tastier by adding in community. Typically, it’s dinner in a new location with new people, new cuisines, often in a private home or featuring a mystery chef and menu. Among the most popular settings are the Naked Lady Room in NYC, Hush in DC, and the Sunday Dinner Club in Chicago. 

Let the spirit move you

Experiences to help you find zen are very popular—and deprivation is not a requirement. From mineral hot springs to spas, yoga retreats to fitness experiences, wellness travel covers a wide spectrum.


The perfect mix of culture, history, and modern comfort, Japan has something for everyone, and is much more than just Tokyo. Get out into the countryside, stand in awe in Hiroshima, take to the baths and don’t overlook the amazing cuisine. This beautiful and diverse country will definitely surprise.


“Chad is the next go-to destination on the African continent,” says Nicola Shepherd, founder of the UK-based Explorations Company. “Zakouma National Park is nothing short of mind-blowing — it’s probably the best national park in Africa.”

The Ennedi Massif

Faroe Islands

If you’ve already done Iceland, the Faroe Islands — a tiny Danish archipelago located in the North Atlantic Ocean, equidistant from Norway and Iceland — is the new land of ice and fire.


Think fairytale castles and medieval fortresses, buoyed by a rich wine culture, scenic natural landscapes and unusual cuisines.

The Palace of the Parliament

Pan for gold and other treasures

Gold was first discovered in Greenville County, South Carolina, in the 1800s. The region’s most productive site for panning is the Broad River, which runs for 150 miles through North and South Carolina. The Thermal City Gold Mine in Union City, North Carolina, is open March-October, and includes emerald, citrine, moonstone, rubies, quartz and tourmaline among its findable treasures.

Southern plantations

South Carolina is home to more than 2,000 plantations with historic homes and spectacular grounds. Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, Boone Hall Plantation and Drayton Hall are all worth checking out next time you are in the Charleston area.