Tag Archives: trends

Wendy Perrin

Travel News and Trends From Our 2020 Global Travel Summit

Portugal is the country that has shot up the most in popularity over the past three years among WendyPerrin.com travelers. The Galapagos Islands is the most-booked destination in Latin America this year. And Morocco is the #1 foreign country for spring break in 2020—so far. These are just a few of the fun facts we learned about our readers’ trip-taking patterns at our 2020 WOW Global Travel Summit last week.

We gathered together with the Trusted Travel Experts on The WOW List and other knowledgeable travel-world journalists and thought leaders to pinpoint trends for 2020, including where smart travelers are headed, what information should be on their radars, and how to make their trips better.

Below are some of the takeaways we think you’ll find most useful for the coming year. We certainly did. Note: The statistics below are for WendyPerrin.com travelers—meaning, travelers who use our WOW system for their trips.

Aerial view of Cape Town from a helicopter tour

Cape Town has new direct flights from New York, adding to its popularity so far in 2020. Photo: NAC Helicopters

The most-booked foreign countries in 2020 are…

  1. Italy
  2. South Africa
  3. United Kingdom
  4. France
  5. Vietnam

The popularity of Italy, the U.K., and France won’t surprise anyone, but South Africa and Vietnam are exciting up-and-comers. South Africa Trusted Travel Expert Julian Harrison attributes the country’s #2 standing to a favorable exchange rate, United’s new direct flight from New York City (Newark) to Cape Town, and a change in media coverage: Now that public perceptions—and misperceptions—about issues such as drought and Ebola are no longer front-page news, travelers are fulfilling their pent-up demand for South Africa.

Vietnam’s popularity is rising thanks to new flights that make it a regional hub, new island resorts, and new luxury boats in Halong Bay, says Daniel Fraser, a WOW Lister for Southeast Asia. He cites the country’s high-low culinary scene as a big driver too: Talented young chefs are elevating traditional Vietnamese cuisine to cool new heights, and at the same time mom-and-pop street-food eateries are stepping up their game to a tourist audience that’s more willing than ever to dig into new foods.

As for Italy, which is #1 on the list every year, we talked about what the country is doing to protect itself from its own popularity, so that its landmarks and landscapes, so overwhelmed in peak season, are preserved for future generations. Maria Landers, a Trusted Travel Expert for Italy, pointed to a variety of sustainability initiatives in 2020. Trenitalia has reopened 600km of train track to provide a greener way to travel and to get tourists to smaller cities and lesser-known destinations. The city of Florence has launched a “Give a Tree” campaign to enlist visitors in helping the city go green and combat smog and CO2: for 150 euros, you can adopt a tree that will find a new home in local parks, gardens, and along the city streets. And in Parma, the 2020 Italian Capital of Culture, you’ll find an exhibition called “We, Food and our Planet: Feeding a sustainable future.” Its goal is to promote good practices in relation to food, people, and the environment and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set by the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda.

green fields with mountains in background in Chitwan Nepal

Nepal is back in your travel plans. Photo: Shutterstock

The country that most rapidly regained your attention is…

Three years ago, none of you were going to Nepal. The 2015 earthquake had left the country struggling to rebuild itself. Now, in 2020, many of you are planning those long-put-off trips. And, thanks to Toni Neubauer, Nepal specialist on The WOW List, you’re finding fascinating ways to explore the country and meet the people while also helping the recovery effort: “Two of the villages most affected by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal were Laprak and Barpak,” she says. “The locals have been working hard to rebuild their homes and lives and have used tourism as a method of recovery.” Toni makes sure her travelers contribute to continued recovery efforts by staying with locals in their villages, experiencing the activities they designed themselves, talking with them about their experiences, and ensuring that money is going into the village, rather than only into companies based in Kathmandu.

The top five “emerging destinations”—countries that none of our readers were considering three years ago but that are now garnering a lot of interest—are …

  1. Nepal
  2. Bhutan
  3. Mongolia
  4. Zambia
  5. Uzbekistan

We wonder what off-the-beaten place will be next.

aerial view of cliffside beach Vila Vita Parc Resort beach aerial Algarve Portugal

Portugal is the country that has shot up the most in popularity over the past three years among WendyPerrin.com travelers. Photo: Vila Vita, the Algarve, Portugal

By contrast, the mainstream countries that have seen the greatest increase in trips booked over the past three years are…

  1. Portugal
  2. Mexico
  3. Belize
  4. Canada
  5. Chile

The months you traveled most last year were…

June, May, October

The months you traveled least were…

January, November, February

boats in the town Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Canada is the most popular August destination for WendyPerrin.com travelers.

These were the most-booked foreign destinations last year, by month…

January: Argentina

February: The Caribbean

March: The United Kingdom

April: France

May: Italy

June: Italy

July: Italy

August: Canada

September: France

October: Italy

November: The United Kingdom

December: Mexico

The benefits of shoulder-season travel came up again and again at our Summit, and it’s clear that many WendyPerrin.com travelers are the beneficiaries. Our readers are savvy enough to choose the United Kingdom in the shoulder-season months of March and November, for instance; these travelers realize that they’re going for the culture, not the weather, so why not avoid huge crowds and sticker-shock prices by traveling at off-peak times? We’re also happy to see so many of you skipping European cities in August and instead escaping the heat and crowds in Canadian locations that are optimal in August, among them British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies, the Maritime Provinces, and Newfoundland.

With so many travelers overcrowding Italy in the peak summer season, we were happy to hear from Italy WOW Lister Andrea Grisdale that some areas are combating such overtourism by extending their season. For instance, the hotels, shops, and restaurants on Lake Como used to close at the end of October. Today, they are welcoming visitors for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, with Christmas markets and festive light shows a highlight of wintertime. Additionally, lesser-known parts of Italy that have been heretofore ignored are opening up—for instance, two important pockets of southern Italy’s Basilicata region, Matera (where more than a thousand ancient dwellings are carved into rock) and Maratea (known as “the pearl of the Tyrrhenian”), as well as the Gargano sub-region within Apulia (the “spur” on Italy’s “boot”), with its many charming and untouristed villages.

Kyoto, Japan gardens at Heian Shrine in the spring season. - Image

Japan is the #3 spring spot booked by WendyPerrin.com WOW List users. Photo: Shutterstock

The top five spots your fellow readers have booked already for spring break in 2020 are…

  1. United States
  2. Morocco
  3. Japan
  4. Portugal/Caribbean (tied)
  5. Vietnam/Cambodia (tied)

Where will you take your family during school breaks this year? We have many other unexpected ideas for you.

“Australia is open for business,” said Stuart Rigg, Wendy’s WOW List expert in Australia. Photo: Tim Baker

Australia should not be stricken from your travel plans…

“97% of Australia is not impacted by fires,” said Stuart Rigg, Wendy’s WOW List expert in Australia. Unfortunately, because of the generalizations and overly frightening images in the news, a lot of people don’t understand that the fires are very far from many of the country’s most beautiful regions, including Australia’s “Red Centre” and the Great Barrier Reef. What’s more, tourism dollars can help support the recovery. We were happy to hear that no WendyPerrin.com travelers have cancelled their Australia trips; Stuart is simply rerouting their itineraries to the many beautiful places that have not been impacted.

Cherri Briggs, a WOW Lister for Africa, discusses climate change on a panel about how travel and the environment interact.

Climate change is affecting Africa in an unexpected way…

Africa’s safari season has grown longer over the past few years, said Cherri Briggs, one of Wendy’s WOW List safari experts. The reason? Climate change, which affects the African landscape and makes it harder to predict the movements of wildlife. “For example the migration will not migrate in its usual predictable pattern from Tanzania to Kenya if it has not rained in Kenya, or vice versa, as the migration follows the new grass,” she explains. And in Botswana, she adds, the rainy seasons are having less rain, which extends the viewing seasons. “It’s more important than ever to continually take the pulse of the weather in these various destinations, as what was the rule in the past may well have changed. Normally we can predict to a good degree what the next season has to hold given rain patterns about 6 months out. These rain patterns make for great value in the ‘low season’, which now may well be the preferred season!”

Keep your eye on Casablanca…

Royal Air Maroc will join the oneworld airline alliance on April 1, 2020. (The alliance already includes American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Iberia, among others.) As a result, Brett Snyder of Cranky Concierge expects Casablanca to become an important air travel hub: Not only will there be more flights to Morocco, but it’ll make travel to the rest of Africa much easier and also make it easier to combine Morocco with other African countries in one trip.

A smart way to use points and miles…

Your credit-card points give the best value when used for first- and business-class air travel, said miles expert Gary Leff of View From the Wing. The transfer rate to hotel points programs is not usually great.


Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Sicily Italy chairs looking at vineyard field

How You Are Changing the Travel Industry. Yes, You.

We can’t thank you enough for so thoughtfully filling out the “Start a Trip” questionnaires on our website, and for providing such detailed post-trip reviews when you return from those trips. There are good reasons why we ask you to share your thoughts with us both before and after your travels. As you know, your reviews help Wendy constantly refine her WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts. But here’s what you might not know: We also rely on your input—anonymized, of course—to help WOW List trip planners understand what sophisticated travelers really want and need right now. When we gather with the 2020 WOW List experts for our Global Travel Summit in New York (Jan 26–28), we’ll make sure they know your preferences. Thus, by sharing with us the sorts of travel experiences you want most, the biggest trip-planning challenges you face, and what you find most valuable and memorable about your travels, you help make everyone’s next trips better. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ve told us you want out of travel in 2020. Are we hearing you right?

What you’re asking for in 2020

  • To get off the beaten tourist track
  • To spend time on the water for at least a day
  • To hike to villages, meeting interesting locals en route
  • One-of-a-kind boutique accommodations with a sense of place
  • A flexible itinerary you can change whenever you like
  • Expeditions to see nature and animals
  • Custom-tailored experiences unique to your interests

Your biggest pet peeves

  • Tourist crowds and lines
  • Follow-the-yellow-flag group tours
  • Guides who recite a history textbook
  • Chain hotels

The biggest challenges you cite

  • Avoiding crowds, lines, tour groups, tourist traps
  • Getting shut out because you waited too late to book (e.g., Christmas in Morocco; spring break in the Galapagos; safaris in July/August)
  • Keeping the kids engaged and enlightening them
  • Combining beach with culture (or otherwise making a trip not feel like all one kind of thing)
  • Pinpointing the best timing for your trip (and the best days to visit sites)
  • Determining where to save vs. where to splurge
  • Finding something you (or your neighbors) haven’t done already

The one-of-a-kind experiences you love most

  • Having a landscape all to yourself (e.g., lunch alone in a vast lavender field)
  • Private boat excursions
  • Cooking classes with local families in their homes
  • Dining in wineries with the winemaker
  • Sleeping in castles
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes access at museums and landmarks
  • Entry to monuments and museums before they’re open to the public
  • A hotel-room view so spectacular that you could sightsee for hours from your window
  • A savvy local guide who makes spontaneous recommendations that end up being a high point of the trip


Tibet monastery

Cruise Trends 2019: Cruise Like a Traveler, Not a Tourist

It’s been true for years that you can visit the world’s most remote places in absolute comfort—on a small, luxury ship. What’s new this year is that many cruise lines are not just delivering you to off-the-grid places but are also enabling you to have truly immersive experiences there. The most innovative cruise lines are exploring new concepts such as country-intensive itineraries and extraordinary shore excursions, and many travelers are planning truly unusual pre- and post-cruise adventures. As my colleague at Cruise Critic, Chris Gray Faust, reminds me, these new trends “give passengers more control over their experience—and feel much less like an organized tour. It’s hard to go back to typical group shore excursions after you’ve had more freedom.”

How can you make my favorite three travel trends work for your next vacation? I’m sharing my take with you below. And one more thing: Once you’ve done your own travel homework, my best recommendation is to hand it all over to a top cruise-planning specialist and let the expert make it happen—especially if you’re a first-timer or need multiple travel arrangements booked.

Country-Intensive Itineraries

What’s new: If you want to delve into a single country rather than a skip-hop-and-a-jump itinerary through a vast region of the world, country-specific itineraries are a hot commodity. This year, cruisegoers can explore places such as Iceland, Japan, Indonesia, \Thailand, and Norway in greater depth. Even Alaska (which is only a state) is offering itineraries that get you much farther below the surface than the typical seven-day Inside Passage route.

If you’re planning to go: For the most part, it’s small-ship expedition and luxury cruise lines that are offering these itineraries—lines such as Azamara (whose ships carry about 700 passengers), Ponant (whose vessels carry up to 264 passengers), and Windstar (148 to 312 passengers). But even big-ship fans have options: Princess Cruises’ 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess is sailing many cruises focused on Japan only.

Luxury Land Adventure Add-Ons

What’s new: Cruise ships typically sail from the world’s most compelling cities, where travelers frequently want pre- or post-cruise exploration. Cruise lines are starting to use those cities as jumping-off points for grandiose adventures. On my upcoming cruise around South Africa on Viking Ocean Cruises, you can, for instance, add a multi-day safari to the voyage. And it’s not alone; what may surprise travelers is that they can combine a cruise along Africa’s coast with the very different style of safari experience. AmaWaterways, a river cruise line, has a dedicated inland cruise on the Chobe River that covers Botswana and Namibia.

Even more ambitious is Silversea Cruises’ new “Couture Collection,” which connects cruises to super-small-group land tours of places such as Mongolia, Australia’s Outback, Tibet, and India’s Rajasthan.

If you’re planning to go: Adhering to the old “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” cliché, Silversea’s aforementioned trips, which run from 5 to 11 days, aren’t cheap: They range in price from $34,000 to $78,000 per traveler. Another option: Plan your own private pre- and post-cruise adventures via the best trip-planning specialist for your destination.

More Destination-Focused Theme Cruises

two cruise guests in snorkel gear standing in the water in Moorea with fish swimming around in French Polynesia

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers hands-on, conservation-focused learning in French Polynesia. Photo: Pacific Beachcomber/Paul Gauguin Cruises

What’s new: Theme cruises that typically make headlines revolve around boy bands, food and wine, and television icons like Star Trek. Where we’re seeing a sea change is that travelers are demanding—and cruise lines are delivering—themes related to the destination. One of my most satisfying cruise experiences ever was a Lindblad Expeditions soft-adventure trip to the Nordic countries, where National Geographic photographers taught us how to better capture stories on film. No fewer than three photographers taught daily workshops onboard, and you could also go exploring on shore with them. I took the best pics of my life on that trip.

If you’re planning to go: It’s the small-ship cruise lines that are most likely to offer the most compelling destination-themed programs. Not only do they tie the itinerary into the educational component, but their small size means they can nip into ports that larger vessels can’t—and where you won’t be competing with thousands of other passengers. On Aqua Expeditions’ Aria Amazon riverboat, for instance, you can sail the Amazon and explore its jungles with noted explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau.

For families, I love the Stewards of Nature program aboard the Paul Gauguin. In partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society, it offers hands-on learning in the ports of French Polynesia. Kids hike through forests with naturalists, create Polynesian-inspired jewelry, participate in scientific experiments using local flora and fauna, and even design their own Polynesian tattoos.

One fabulous outlier is Cunard, which on its transatlantic crossings occasionally offers themed weeks that hone in on particular interests yet have nothing to do with the itinerary itself. On my list to experience is its Fashion Week, complete with designers, runway shows, and red carpets.


Carolyn Spencer Brown is Editor at Large for Cruise Critic, the leading site for cruise reviews and information, as well as the largest forum for cruise fans. She’s been taking cruises for decades and has amassed an extensive and impressive knowledge of the specifics of ships, lines, itineraries, policies, and ports. You can follow Cruise Critic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and also follow Carolyn herself on Instagram (@carolynspencerbrown) and Twitter (@CruiseEditor).





How Air Travel Will Change in 2019

It’s that time again where I get to look into my crystal ball and see which airline trends will make news in the coming year. This year, my list isn’t quite as rosy as it was last year. But it’s not all bad news. Read on to see what’s coming in 2019.

1. More international routes from mid-sized U.S. cities

This trend was on the list last year, as airlines raced to add flights from interior U.S. points to Europe, as well as from small European points to the U.S. That trend continues in 2019. American blazed a trail by adding Philadelphia to Prague and Budapest last year, but next summer it digs even deeper with flights from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik and Bologna. Last year, British Airways went small in the U.S., with flights from Nashville to London. Those flights have done well, and now BA is going even smaller with flights from Pittsburgh and Charleston, South Carolina. As long as the economy remains strong, expect this trend to continue.

2. The fall of Iceland and the rise of Portugal

Iceland has been a hot tourist destination for some time now, and both stalwart Icelandair and upstart WOW Air have been pumping travelers to and through the country on the way to the rest of Europe. Capacity has grown far too quickly, and both airlines have been suffering. A recent proposal for Icelandair to acquire WOW fell apart and WOW has been teetering on the edge of solvency. WOW has already shrunk significantly, and I’d definitely expect to see even fewer seats from fewer U.S. cities. Meanwhile, TAP Air Portugal has been trying to grow its business as another gateway to mainland Europe. Up until now, it has had only limited gateways into the U.S., but expect that to change. TAP has new airplanes on order, and it recently announced three new U.S. gateways to Lisbon: San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington/Dulles, all launching in June. Keep that in mind if you’re looking for a place to spend a few days.

3. The incredible shrinking lavatory

You may have noticed things felt a little more snug the last time you stepped into an aircraft lavatory. Don’t worry—it’s not that you ate too much on that cruise. Both Boeing and Airbus have come up with space-saving lavatories primarily for short-haul aircraft. In these bathrooms, the sink extends further into your personal space, making more room for more seats in the cabin. How can you avoid these? Well, drink less water, so you won’t need to go as often.

4. More long-haul flights

If you thought that last flight to Tokyo was long, just wait until you see some of the newest flights being launched. Aircraft are increasingly being built with more range, and airlines are taking full advantage. Qantas opted to stretch the legs of its 787 fleet with the first nonstop flight from London to Australia. Granted, it’s from Perth and not Sydney, but Qantas has already asked for an airplane with enough range for that flight. The Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, and Turkish) have always operated long flights, but Singapore Airlines now tops them all. With the delivery of its new A350-900ULR (that’s Ultra Long Range) aircraft, Singapore has been able to re-start nonstop service from Newark to Singapore. That’s in addition to new service from Singapore to LA, San Francisco, and soon, Seattle.

5. Basic Economy spreads basically everywhere

It’s been a few years since the Basic Economy concept rolled out domestically in the U.S. Basic fares generally allow no changes and no advance seat assignments, and on occasion they don’t allow carry-on bags either. There are other restrictions as well. The upside? They cost less than a full coach fare. This fare strategy was originally isolated to the U.S. market and then spread into other parts of North America. Now it is catching on with more airlines. Alaska Airlines will have its version of Basic Economy rolled out for travel in 2019. And JetBlue has said it will follow. If you’re flying internationally, you might think you’re immune to this, but you’re not. We’re now seeing more of these fares head into the transatlantic market. The big three U.S. airlines and their European partners all have a form of Basic Economy flying over the water. Be careful to understand the rules when you buy your ticket.


Brett Snyder is President at Cranky Concierge, a service that Wendy recommends to WOW List travelers seeking the savviest help with international airline travel. Brett’s service ferrets out the smartest routes and fares, monitors your flights, and provides emergency rerouting assistance if your flight is delayed or cancelled. We asked him to talk about 2019’s biggest air travel trends and what you need to know about them.