Want to know where and how you should be travelling in 2018? Stephanie Holmes gets some insider info from industry experts so you can stay ahead of the trends when planning your next trip.
About the experience
Recent travel trends have seen Kiwis search for more from their holidays. "Many now want to actually do something on holiday, not just relax on a beach," says Flight Centre NZ's general manager product, Sean Berenson. "That's fuelled a rise in active travel, expedition cruising, culinary travel, wildlife travel and more."
2018 TIP: "Exploring the sprawling jungles of the Peruvian Andes is worth putting on the list," Berenson says. "As is hiking the W-trek in Patagonia, back-country skiing in Iceland or trekking to Mt Everest base camp."
Have an eventful trip
Kiwis are heading overseas for more reasons than just a break from work. Many travellers are putting famous festivals and events on their wishlist and planning trips around them. A week in Nevada for the Coachella Festival, a long-weekend in Noosa or Margaret River for their annual food festivals, an extended visit to Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations ... it's all doable with cheaper airfares and more airlines flying in and out of New Zealand.
Berenson suggests heading to Europe for the Northern Hemisphere spring/summer. "If you want to give your mates the ultimate FoMO head to Exit Festival, held at the Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad, Serbia."
Cruising to victory
Industry experts have witnessed a growth in cruise holiday bookings over the past few years, with more and more Kiwis choosing a break on the water. And why wouldn't you? There's a cruise product suitable for everyone — from big-ship ocean liners, to boutique luxury river cruises, to expedition cruises that take you where land operators can't reach.
"Cruising is a great option, where you have to unpack only once and get to wake up to a new view each morning. The all-inclusive pricing is also an appealing aspect for travellers," says House of Travel's product and channel director Dave Fordyce.
"As more cruise liners visit New Zealand ports, it will make it very convenient for Kiwis to jump on board and start their holiday."
2018 TIP: Symphony of the Seas will become the world's biggest cruise ship when it's launched in April. It will sail from Barcelona for the European spring/summer season, and Miami from the US autumn with room for 5500 passengers on each voyage.
If you're more into small-ship adventures, try Peregrine Adventures' new cruise itineraries visiting Croatia, Iceland, the Greek Islands, Spain and Portugal, Gambia, Cuba, Thailand and Vietnam next year. They have a maximum of 50 passengers on board.
History and heritage
Booking.com research* found that Kiwi travellers are looking for nostalgia in their holidays, and almost a third (27 per cent) say they are considering in 2018 revisiting a holiday they experienced as a child. That rises to 40 per cent for 18- to 34-year olds.
There's also an increasing demand for "heritage travel" — tracing where ancestors came from, thanks to the rise in popularity of at-home DNA tests.
"A number of our customers [have traced their roots] and then work with us to plan trips to immerse themselves in the culture of the countries they are visiting and plan an itinerary-based around key elements of their heritage," says Berenson.
It may also be the year where you look to travel with your extended family group.
"Cross-generational travel has grown up and 2018 is a prime time to consider taking the plunge and challenge yourself to holidaying with your folks again," says Lonely Planet's Asia-Pacific spokesperson Chris Zeiher.
: As World War I centennial commemorations continue, Europe will continue to be a popular destination for Kiwis tracing their family histories.
The key date for 2018 is Armistice Day, November 11.
"For affordable flights to Europe, try booking outside of peak season between September to May," Berenson says. "When you see a good deal, grab it, don't wait to get a better deal, as flights are continuously fluctuating."
Wellness is the way forward
Continuing on from the trend for active travel, many Kiwis are considering
wellness when they book their holidays. Booking.com's research suggests that walking holidays are the hot tip for 2018 — 56 per cent of Kiwi travellers surveyed say they're looking to book a hiking trip for the year ahead.
There's also an abundance of wellness retreats, fitness breaks and active guided tours available, so if you're keen to keep moving on your holiday, 2018 will offer no excuses.
2018 TIP: Head to Hawaii for a range of active opportunities, Fordyce advises. "Molokai is perfect for active travellers who can explore the world's tallest sea cliffs, and Hawaii Island boasts some of the most unique volcanic experiences. Head up to the end of Highway 130 in Puna District and hike an area where lava from Kilauea Volcano flows into the sea."
EXPERT PICKS FOR 2018's HOTTEST DESTINATIONS
"Somewhere like Cuba is popular as the unique culture and vibrant architecture of Havana, along with an increased accessibility, compels travellers to explore all this unique country has to offer. Try staying in one of the new wave of Casas Particulares (Cuban B&Bs). You can find these in the heart of Old Havana and in the historic centres of Trinidad and Coenfuegos. You will be in the middle of the action."
— Sean Berenson, Flight Centre
"With the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games being held in Japan, there will be lots happening in a country that combines rich history with an eclectic mix of modern-day life. Average temperatures and weather patterns vary considerably. Cherry-blossom season falls between March and May, when the weather is warming up and the skies are clear. If you are an experienced skier or just beginning, Japan needs to be on your must-visit list between late December-March. Japan also has some amazing beach holiday options. Sunset Beach on Ishigaki Island is a short flight from Tokyo yet a world apart from the bustling metropolis. The white sandy beach and emerald water is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the East China sea."
— David Fordyce, House of Travel
"Everyone should have Chile on their travel list for 2018: its 200th anniversary is a great excuse to experience this sliver of a nation's geographical diversity, from the soaring Andes in the east to the wilds of Patagonia in the south."
— Chris Zeiher, Lonely Planet
MIDDLE EAST & TURKEY
"The Middle East is going to be huge in 2018. This year alone, we have seen a 35 per cent increase in travellers visiting the region. Egypt is up 44 per cent, Jordan is up 66 per cent and travel to Israel is up by a whopping 120 per cent. We are expecting Turkey to continue to bounce back in 2018. That culturally rich country was Peregrine Adventures' most popular destination just a few years ago before taking a plummet. In the past 12 months, however, we have seen bookings increase by 106 per cent and 560 per cent in late November/early December."
— Brett Mitchell, Peregrine Adventures regional director for Australia
"The Philippines is my pick for a hot new cruise destination in 2018 and, in particular, the island of Boracay, known for its stunning beaches with powder-soft sand. Along the west coast, White Beach is backed by palm trees, bars and restaurants. On the east coast, strong winds make Bulabog Beach popular for water sports. Offshore you can explore coral reefs and shipwrecks, home to diverse marine life. Very few cruise lines actually visit Boracay but this is starting to change as they search the world for new and exciting destinations to explore."
— Jacqueline Unsworth, helloworld cruise marketing manager
* Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the past 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. 500 Kiwis were surveyed.