2019 Travel Predictions From the Experts

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2019 travel predictions from the experts… and what they mean for you.

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball handy when you’re planning a trip? There’s a lot of uncertainty involved with booking travel months into the future. Will flight and hotel prices drop before we go, meaning we lost money by booking ahead? Will something happen that affects gas prices, meaning our flight will suddenly cost twice as much?

If you’re not in the travel biz, you might not be aware that Carlson Wagonlit releases a really in-depth study every year on the future of travel around the globe. If anyone is in a position to know what the next year in travel is going to look like, it’s going to be these folks- they’re one of the largest travel agencies in the world and they’ve been leading the pack for decades.

With that said, would you like to read through a 107 page report full of math and statistics? No? Are you sure?

Well, that’s okay, because I did it for you. What can I say? As a full time travel writer, I have a vested interest in knowing what’s coming down the pike in the travel industry. Also, I’m a huge nerd. You’re welcome.

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I read the entire thing, picked out 20 key points that I think you’ll need to know, and I’ll summarize them here along with my interpretation of what I think they’ll mean for the average traveler, so you can stay ahead of the curve.

2019 Travel Prediction #1- Brazil will continue to recover from recession. However, new codeshare agreements mean prices from the US to Brazil will be as competitive as ever, and the US dollar is still strong compared to the Brazilian real. This is still a fantastic time to visit Brazil. Prices are sure to rise if they continue to recover at the same pace, so if you have your eye on Rio, this is the perfect time to go.

Pro tip: Brazil has the most complicated visa issuing system I’ve ever seen. Other travelers warned me about it ahead of time but I didn’t take them seriously. If you’re going to go, get your visa sorted ASAP in case you run into snags. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Last Minute Note: I finished this text before Brazil’s most recent election, the results of which were…momentous. Be sure and check your country’s official travel warnings for Brazil before travel, just in case situations arise that you might need to be aware of.

2019 Travel Prediction #2- Argentina’s currency will continue to weaken against the USD. This is, of course, bad news for Argentinians who want to travel, but for anyone with Buenos Aires on their bucket list, they should be able to score a deal to make their trip happen this year.

2019 Travel Prediction #3- The Asia Pacific region is booming, and shows no signs of slowing down. Demand for flights and hotel rooms across the region, particularly in China, is starting to outpace supply. If you’re planning travel to this part of the world, you’re going to want to book as far in advance as you can, keep an eye out for deals, and be prepared for crowded flights and airports. The silver lining: they’re building new hotels as fast as they can, so even if you do end up having to pay a little more, you should be able to get a nice new room.

Agoda is my go-to site for finding hotel rooms in Asia. They seem to always have the lowest prices and best selection compared to other booking sites that I would use elsewhere in the world. But don’t forget about Airbnb!

2019 Travel Prediction #4- Prices are dropping in Eastern Europe. While prices are skyrocketing through the main tourist hubs of Western Europe, airfare and hotels are getting even cheaper in Eastern Europe. This is the perfect time to check out all the hidden gems you’ve been hearing about: Plovdiv, Gdansk, Transnistria, etc.

2019 Travel Prediction #5- Flight and hotel prices throughout Latin America are expected to drop 1-2%. And they were already pretty cheap.  Check out this Intrepid tour: 4 countries, 17 days, $1320. Y’all, that’s insanely cheap. (Make sure you’ve signed up for Swagbucks before you book so you get 2% cash back. Souvenir money!)

2019 Travel Prediction #6- Flight and hotel prices across North America will continue to rise 2-3%. In case you missed it, check out my recent mega post on making travel more affordable. If you’re going to travel in the US this year, it’s going to come in handy. The last time I searched hotels in Portland, Oregon, the Hampton Inn was $300 a night. Are you kidding me right now?  Rising hotel prices will just make Airbnb look even more attractive to travelers than it already does. Take $40 off your first Airbnb booking if you, too, are sick of paying luxury hotel prices for budget chains.

2019 Travel Prediction #7- There’s a major shortage of airplane pilots worldwide. Have you ever had a flight canceled or delayed because of crew issues? If you have, you know how frustrating that can be, but the airline’s proverbial hands are tied- the FAA regulates how long a flight crew can work before they’re mandated to take a break. Expect this to become even more of an issue in 2019, as the number of pilots entering the profession fails to keep up with the number of new routes being added, especially with the expanding low cost carrier market. And make sure you’re flying with travel insurance! If you don’t have travel insurance and one leg of your trip is delayed or canceled, your entire trip could be ruined and you could be out boatloads of money with no recourse. Don’t risk it.

2019 Travel Prediction #8- Airlines are adding more ultra-long haul flights to their rosters. Singapore Airlines (my second favorite airline in the world) is adding a Newark to Singapore route. This is bound to mean more hotel competition in Singapore, as well as even more push for US tourism in Singapore in general. 

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball handy when booking a trip? I'll give you the next best thing with these 20 travel predictions for 2019, compiled by the biggest experts in the travel industry. #travel #travelinspiration #2019travel
PS, Singapore is gorgeous and you should totally go. Don’t skip Chinatown.

2019 Travel Prediction #9- Long-haul low-cost carriers are stepping up their game. WOW Air will begin offering flights to Asia from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. I am far too old and creaky to imagine doing a long haul flight on a budget airline, but if you’re a teenage backpacker who won’t die from being crammed into the airline equivalent of a too-small dog crate for 16 hours, consider this your lucky year.

2019 Travel Prediction #10- Flights to Japan are going to be super cheap. If you’ve always wanted to get the perfect cherry blossom pic for your Instagram feed, now is your chance. Japan will be hosting the Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games, which means Japanese airlines have started bulking up their routes in anticipation of the influx of tourists that will be coming for both events. What that means for you is that you can score a super cheap flight deal to Japan ahead of the crowds.

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball handy when booking a trip? I'll give you the next best thing with these 20 travel predictions for 2019, compiled by the biggest experts in the travel industry. #travel #travelinspiration #2019travel
Think of all the sake you’re going to be able to buy with your savings. Kanpai!

2019 Travel Prediction #11- You know how Norway is ridiculously expensive? It’s going to get worse. If you’re a budget traveler, strike Norway from your list in 2019. Super high prices we’ve come to expect there are skyrocketing even higher. All the more reason to head to Eastern Europe this year. If you see a cheap flight to Norway pop up online, do your research about what everything else in the country costs before you jump on it and think you’ve just scored a cheap vacation. (Spoiler alert: you haven’t.)

2019 Travel Prediction #12- Turkish Airlines is stepping up its game. The new Istanbul airport will be the largest terminal in the world, and Turkish Airlines intends to fill it with passengers. Look for them to offer some deals to try and poach passengers from Emirates and Etihad. This should have a trickle-down effect and lead to more hotels and tourism in Turkey in general.

2019 Travel Prediction #13- New non-stop flights from New York to Kenya are going to grow the East African safari business. What that means for the animals, I don’t know. But expect more new safari operators to start popping up, eager for more lucrative North American business. This could be the time to snag a deal if you’ve always dreamed of seeing Africa’s Big Five in person. And you should, because East Africa is amazing. Don’t skip Uganda while you’re there.

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball handy when booking a trip? I'll give you the next best thing with these 20 travel predictions for 2019, compiled by the biggest experts in the travel industry. #travel #travelinspiration #2019travel
When I was in East Africa, a hippo charged my boat and nearly capsized it, which would have meant almost certain death. Do not recommend; try to avoid if possible.

2019 Travel Prediction #14- New mobile apps are coming. By 2020, expect that over 80% of your interactions with hotel staff will be digital. No more standing in line to check in at a crowded hotel behind the other 100 people who just got off your flight- soon you’ll just check in on their app en route to the hotel and head straight to your room, unlocking the door with your phone. You might be greeted with a robot concierge in the lobby. It’s no surprise that Asia is leading the digital hotel revolution with Singapore at the helm. If you’re one of the last holdouts with no smartphone and you plan to travel in 2019, it might be time to finally upgrade.

2019 Travel Prediction #15- Over 70 new boutique hotels will open in the UK… but almost 40% of the UK’s hotel employees are EU nationals, which could mean major staff shortages and resulting shoddy service once Brexit goes into effect. Assuming they get all that worked out, I expect all the new boutique hotels to spur an increase in the number of companies offering driving tours around the UK, which is awesome because those are So. Darling.

2019 Travel Prediction #16- Heading Down Under? Melbourne has over 50 new hotels in the works. This should come as no surprise, after the Australian tourism board spent about a zillion dollars in 2018 to promote Oz tourism. I’m excited to see what this does for Melbs. When I was there earlier this year I was able to find some good hotel deals (good by Australian prices, that is- they weren’t dirt cheap) but the extra competition should make bargains even easier to find.

Solo female traveler alert! Melbourne is the only city in the world where I wasn’t catcalled or harassed on the street even once. Nor did I see it happen to anyone else while I was there. If you’re looking for a place where you can walk down the street in shorts and a tank top without being harassed, check it out.

2019 Travel Prediction #17- Everyone you know is going to Spain. The UN World Tourism Organization predicts that Spain will knock the US out of its current spot as the second most popular tourist destination in the world in 2019.

2019 Travel Prediction #18- Paris hotel prices are going up. Again. Lots of new luxury hotels in the City of Lights have driven hotel prices up across the board. If that’s pricing you out of your dream of taking selfies in front of the Mona Lisa, check out some alternative accommodations instead, like this hostel near the Eiffel Tower for $30 US a night. 

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball handy when booking a trip? I'll give you the next best thing with these 20 travel predictions for 2019, compiled by the biggest experts in the travel industry. #travel #travelinspiration #2019travel

2019 Travel Prediction #19- After holding steady for years, car rental prices are going up. The proliferation of Lyft and Uber have a lot to do with why no one rents cars anymore when they travel, and increased rental prices are only going to encourage that trend. Silvercar still plans to continue its rapid expansion, however. In Southeast Asia, Uber is out, Grab is in. Plan ahead before your trip.

2019 Travel Prediction #20- Southeast Asia’s first high speed rail system is coming to Indonesia. And I couldn’t be more excited. I *love* Indonesia, but getting from point A to point B there can be daunting. China also continues to embrace the high speed rail revolution and is adding several new lines to its existing network. That means easier travel throughout the country, which is always a win for travelers.

Bonus travel prediction:

Sri Lanka is *hot*! Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka the #1 country to visit in 2019. Having spent three months there recently, I can absolutely see why. If you’re one of the zillions of people making plans to visit based on their recommendation, you’re going to want to check out my Sri Lanka posts to get ready. And do yourself a favor: get off the major tourist circuit and head north. Jaffna and the Kalpitiya Peninsula are gorgeous, and you’re going to want to see them before the tourist hordes show up.

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball handy when booking a trip? I'll give you the next best thing with these 20 travel predictions for 2019, compiled by the biggest experts in the travel industry. #travel #travelinspiration #2019travel
Sunday afternoon on Galle Face Green in Colombo. Be there or be square.

Psst! Think you’re too broke to travel to any of these awesome places in 2019? Check out my guide to scoring super cheap travel before you cancel your vacation request! 

What do you think about these 2019 travel predictions? Do you have a crystal ball of your own? Let me know your predictions in the comments!

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