Going the Distance

2016 is coming to an end, so it’s time for a review of the travel trends and habits that will shape the coming year. So far, one thing is clear – we’re getting really good at choosing vacations that suit us. If there’s one thing the internet is good for, it’s giving you options. So if you’re the sort of person who is happy to select a package deal that includes your flights, hotel, car hire and even meals, you can do that. But increasingly, we’re taking a closer look, selecting each individual option ourselves, selecting them for convenience, cost or for any other reason we might have. So we’re picking a different airline for our flights home than the one we picked to fly out, but more interestingly, we’re flying to new places and further than ever before. This is because nations and businesses are falling over themselves to make life easier for travellers. Norwegian Airlines, for example, has pledged to increase its transatlantic flights from the US to Europe by 55% next year. The country of Iceland has seen an epic rise in tourist visitors (a 38% increase in total, with 11 times more US visitors than last year) after cleverly positioning itself as a stop-off between the US and Europe. Travel to Europe is up in several key destinations, with savvy travelers taking advantage of the weak pound and coming to the UK, while steering clear of some places on the European mainland that have been the target of terrorist attacks. It’s not just traditional destinations that are doing well. In our search for adventure and authentic experiences free of the normal tourist traps, we are headed to new places. You would not necessarily expect Kazakhstan to make the list of highest-rising tourist destinations for 2017, but this is another country that has gone to great lengths to make itself more attractive to travelers. In Kazakhstan’s case, this means improving the country’s air safety records, cracking down on terrorism and offering visa-free entry to visitors from 48 countries. 2016 was also the year that Cuba opened its doors to the US after over 50 years of stalemate. The question for many would-be visitors to the island now is whether they want to see it before anything changes too much, or whether they’ll wait for modernization. Whatever your plans are for your next vacation, don’t be afraid to be bold. Go off the beaten track, have new adventures and life-changing experiences. Wherever it is you’re thinking of heading, the chances are that it’s a lot easier to achieve your goals now than ever before.