10 Trends that will shape travel in 2020 and beyond
By Peter Muiruri

As the world cruises towards the digital age, technology will dictate how we travel for leisure in the new decade. Traditional hotel stays may be given a back seat as people try out of the box options. Read on and see how things we may have cared little about such as climate change might just inform your next holiday.

  1. Generation Z calls the shots

That small baby you held in your arms during the last decade will be the new age traveller. These digital geeks will influence the family’s travel decisions. Staying in that drab hotel that your family cherished for ages may not be their idea of fun. They will have to stay connected to the outside world regardless of the reasons for travel.

A good Wi-Fi connection tops the list of the ‘luxury’ items in any hospitality outlet. Hey, this is the generation that inquiries about internet connectivity upon being admitted into a hospital!

  1. Experiential travel

Watching an elephant for hours in Amboseli, witnessing a “kill” in Masai Mara or driving for ages looking for the elusive leopard might get some people’s adrenalin rushing. Granted, the bush and beach tourism may have brought in some dollars but at some point though, it may no longer be the key selling point for tourism, not when every country has these animals – native or imported.

Travel is going to be more experiential. It will be about culture, local foods, or the native language. It has already started. Last year, African Americans trooped to Ghana in what they called the Year of Return where they celebrated the resilience of all the victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave Trade who were scattered and displaced through the world in North America, South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Might they head to Kenya next? Watch this space.   

  1. Healthy eating

Travellers are becoming more aware of what they consume. You may have noticed a number of local hotels designate what they term as the ‘Health corner’ where traditional foods, freshly squeezed juices and ‘infused’ water are served.

In addition, more and more people are shunning meat products with hotels having to adjust their menus accordingly. Recently, Conde Nast Traveller reported the opening of the UK’s first 100-percent vegan hotel. America has some too as well as websites promoting meat-free travel become popular.

  1. Climate change

You must have heard of Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg who became a global sensation last year. Thank to her campaigns, more people are becoming aware of what climate change is all about.

More travellers now want to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Kenya has already embarked on this bandwagon by banning plastic papers while legislation is being put in place to stop plastic bottles in all hospitality hotspots including the national parks. Tourists will also opt for smart travel options and donate money to renewable energy projects.

  1. Holiday on a shoestring

Packing all your life’s belongings for a two-night out vacation will look ridiculous. A backpack will take all you will need for a week away from home. Remember how the early explorers and missionaries travelled will only a few accessories?

Taking less will give you mental and physical freedom and help you connect with nature. If the idea of packing one spare pair of underwear sucks, you are in for a rude awakening.

  1. Staycations become popular

Since Airbnb hit the travel scene, more and more visitors opt to stay with locals rather than in big city hotels. Imagine travelling abroad only to have the entire family picking you up at the airport, drive you their home via the local store for your favourite cereal. Nothing to imagine here since this is already the trend in places like Naivasha, Kilifi, and Laikipia.

  1. Fly in style

Flying is meant to get you to your preferred destination in the quickest way possible. Soon though, flying will become a lifestyle. Some long-haul flights will include yoga cubicles and communal dining. Some airlines are even proposing to turn cargo holds into restrooms with bunk beds and children’s play areas. The sky, it appears, is not the limit.

  1. Foodie crawls

Imagine travelling just to look for yummy foods in your locality. In Kenya, such tours have been made popular by the Google Local Guides, a team of Googlers who arrange for meet-ups just to scour the local food scene and post on Google Maps for other travellers. The team normally posts a list of eateries with particular foods, say, Swahili dishes, Mexican, Japanese among others.

  1. Sports tourism

Kenya will continue to dominate in athletics going by last year’s exploits. Eliud Kipchope pulled a fast one to win the 42-kilometre marathon in under two hours, 1:59 to be precise, creating a global frenzy that put Kenya on the map. With high altitude camps in the Rift Valley, global athletes – and their dollars – will no doubt find it fashionable to visit the “Home of Champions.” Local fitness enthusiasts can hit the track too.

  1. Care for a space trip?

Okay, this one might be above our league but hey, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic hopes to take the public on a 90-minute hop into space beginning this year. Looking for a tipple in space?  There will be bars, restaurants and private residences for sale! All dreams are valid.