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The Hottest Destinations & Key Travel Trends for 2019

The Hottest Destinations & Key Travel Trends for 2019
8 November 2018 James Brooke

Flightgiftcard forecasts the most popular destinations and travel trends for the coming year.

  • Brits will take more bite-sized trips, choose more conscious travel destinations and Instagram takes over for travel inspiration
  • Top destinations include: Egypt, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Turkey, USA

If you’re looking for inspiration on how and where to travel to in 2019, Flightgiftcard has the lowdown on the latest travel trends and most coveted destinations for 2019.

Travel Trends

Bite sized travel
The rise of the ‘serial short breaker’ means more of us are ditching the two-week-long summer holiday in favour of shorter, more frequent breaks. This is good news for local economies, as more us plan to take staycations across the UK, helped by the boom in more unusual accommodation options such as yurts, pods and campervans.

The micro-trip is ideal for those looking to maximise annual leave, with cheap flights and on-demand vehicle rental helping the mini break gain steady popularity.

Conscious travel
How many of us make decisions to visit a country based on its stance on sustainability, human rights or LGBTQ+ rights? Turns out this is actually quite important to many of us. Increasingly, travellers are turning their backs on countries with poor records on social or environmental issues, with more of us also volunteering to give back during our holidays, whether that’s helping to protect wildlife, taking part in a beach clean or joining a Pride march abroad. We can all make a difference, no matter how small the step.

Live like a local
To truly get under the skin of a destination, adventurous travellers are increasingly looking for authentic experiences from the places they’re visiting. Far from heading to the usual tourist hotspots, the bold traveller in 2019 is after authentic experiences that will contribute to the economies and communities they travel to. A home-cooked meal shared with a family, learning a local craft or helping a community group, the tourism industry is waking up to the popularity for all things local.

DNA and me
How much do you know about where you come from? We may have vague ideas about our ancestry, but with the evolution of home DNA testing kits, it’s never been easier to pin point on a map exactly where our ancestors were from. Armed with this knowledge, experts predict more of us will head to our ‘home’ countries, with curious travellers using unexpected results to book trips, no matter how far back the lineage is or how far-flung the destinations prove to be.

Inspired by Instagram
Snapshots of the perfect cityscape, road trip route or blissful beaches can cause envy and inspiration in equal measure. Whether it’s a friend, travel blogger, tourist board or tour operator, a picture says a thousand words and aided by simple sharing and uploading, it’s never been easier to be inspired by Instagram.

With a knack for clever lighting, interesting angles and capturing everything from the quirky to the charming or even the bizarre, the online influencer is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to guiding followers on the best and most coveted places to visit in 2019.

Top Destinations

Spotlight on Japan
Beautiful landscapes, unique architecture, exhilarating cities and a fantastic public transport system – what’s not to love about Japan? The country fuses modern with historic, elements of East and West and is expected to welcome more tourists thanks to the Rugby World Cup 2019 and hosting the 2020 Olympics.

Demand will also increase beyond Tokyo, extending to cities like Okinawa – a remote southern island considered exotic to Japanese residents. Rich with marine wildlife (look out for manta rays), travellers can ride in glass-bottomed boats, learn karate and take cooking lessons for a fully immersive Japanese experience.

Don’t believe the hype
Scare-mongering and ‘fake news’ aside, travellers will demonstrate greater resilience to media reports and seek to make up their own minds about countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Iran. Visits to the Middle East have been steadily climbing, with countries such as Jordan and Oman leading the way. After a few tough years, countries that have suffered negative press will welcome an influx or visitors to boost international relations and, crucially, boost local economies.

Star Attractions
Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood glamour and famous Santa Monica beach, could see an influx of visitors thanks to the latest Quentin Tarantino film, to be released in July 2019. Movie star heavyweights, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Dakota Fanning and Margot Robbie join the stellar cast list for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, set in 1960s LA. DiCaprio stars as a former Western star and Pitt his long-time stunt double struggling to find success in a Hollywood that they no longer recognise.

The beloved 1994 version of The Lion King has been revamped in the live action version, also due for release in July 2019. Set on the African savannah, this stretch of natural beauty is almost five million square miles, encompassing five nations including Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Film buffs and families alike can see Pride Rock, Simba and friends for themselves with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa.

Not content to let it go after the runaway success of the iconic Disney smash hit, Frozen 2 will hit the big screen in November 2019. The hugely successful franchise sees a potential same-sex love interest, plus the return of Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff, all set against the beautiful Norwegian backdrop of breath-takingly frozen beauty. With glacial fjords, sublime mountains, clear waters and charming wooden houses, Norway has been enjoying a boom in tourism that shows little sign of abating next year.

Boxset Bait
Season 3 of The Crown, Netflix’s smash-hit series following the lives of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh is set to pick up during the couple’s middling years. The 1970s were a key period for the monarchy, seeing the Queen travel to Mexico, Denmark, Nigeria, Brazil, Kenya, Indonesia and Portugal (amongst others), and the new series is sure to delve into these locations, providing endless wanderlust for the viewers at home.

With stars including Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley and Meryl Streep, season 2 of Big Little Lies will be airing in 2019, following the story of a group of female friends in Monterey, California, involved in the suspicious death of an abusive husband. Epitomising laid-back California cool, viewers will be inspired by the surfing, beaches and seafood, with the lesser-known US city a more relaxed alternative to the bustle of LA and San Francisco.

Sci-fi fans will rejoice at the return of Stranger Things 3 in 2019, Netflix’s cult hit set in the 1980s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. As low-cost airlines continue to lead the way for accessible travel options, more of us could be inspired to visit America’s less-known states and cities, including Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Omaha in Nebraska and Portland, Oregon.

European Capitals of Culture 2019
Matera in Italy and Plovdiv in Bulgaria have both been crowned as the European Capitals of Culture for 2019. Matera, in the Basilicata region of south Italy, is carved into the rock face and is home to Sassi, a complex of prehistoric cave dwellings set beneath the mountainside and the Casa Grotta di Vico Soliatario museum.

Plovdiv, in southern Bulgaria, is an ancient city built around seven hills, with a theatre and stadium dating back to Roman times. The Regional Archaeological Museum chronicles the city’s fascinating history, with exhibits including mosaic panels, clay lamps and historic coins. The ancient Theatre of Philippopolis now hosts open-air opera and concerts, a perfect spot to indulge in a spot of culture.

New flight routes
From November 2018, EasyJet travellers will be able to fly direct to Aqaba in Jordan for winter sun, spectacular diving and beaches, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. New flight routes also include Aarhus, a charming Danish city currently less-visited than the capital Copenhagen and Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland for frozen fantasy adventures and Santa’s village.

British Airways’ routes continue to expand, picking up new destinations including Osaka, Hamburg, Munich, Kos, Corsica and Lefkada (Greece) launching throughout 2019. From dreamy forest escapes in Osaka, Japan, to Bavarian history in Munich, or beaches in Kos and Corsica, BA’s expansion includes some real travel gems.

Alternative hotspots
Places fall in and out of fashion, with over-tourism often touted as the cause for over-crowding at popular spots such as Iceland’s Blue Lagoon and Dubrovnik’s walled city. Seeking out alternative must-see places will be on every traveller’s 2019 bucket-list for those keen to avoid the crowds.

Visit up and coming Tbilisi in Georgia for a spectacular Old Town, plus Persian and Soviet architecture reminiscent of the country’s complicated past. Riga, in Latvia, is also home to its own Blue Lagoon, while Sintra, in Portugal, offers an alternative to bustling Lisbon. Sintra is nestled in the Sintra Mountains, a forested terrain studded with pastel-coloured villas and palaces – long heralded as a royal sanctuary.


Notes to Editors:
Flightgiftcard founder, Loes Daniels, is available for interview or comment upon request.

For further press information contact:
Elsa Findlay/Jo Kendall/Julie Aguilera
Rooster PR
T: +44 (0) 20 3440 8930
E: [email protected]

About Flightgiftcard
Flightgiftcard is the world’s only flight gift card brand.

With no catch and no limitations, Flightgiftcard’s monetary value provides giftees complete freedom to book wherever and whenever they want.

The Flightgiftcard can be redeemed, via the Flightgiftcard website, for flights with over 300 airlines worldwide.

With short and long-haul flights to 980 destinations across the globe, recipients of a Flightgiftcard will find flights to suit all budgets and requirements.

Flightgiftcard offers a choice of three simple options to deliver the delight:

  1. A customisable, digital gift card that can be emailed to the recipient, or printed for hand delivery.
  2. A luxury printed gift card with a handwritten message (shipping takes 2-4 working days).
  3. A recorded video greeting that can be sent alongside the ecard.

Dutch brand, Flightgiftcard launches in the UK this month (February 2018) following the success of sister brand, Hotelgift.

Set up in the Netherlands in 2014 and operating in the UK from July 2016, Hotelgift launched officially in the UK on 21 November 2017.

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