Six Emerging Trends Set To Dominate Irish 2018 Travel Plans

The silver bullet to the January blues is, and always has been – travel.

The turn of the year does invigorate the masses into forming a plan for what’s  ahead and a huge part of that is where on this big beautiful planet to explore. Every twelve months, we see new niches emerge to fundamentally affect how you plan and 2018 will be no different.

2017 was the year of the solo traveller.  The fear and trepidation of going alone were replaced by the excitement of meeting new people and stepping out of your comfort zone. It inspired thousands to throw themselves into an adventure and take control of the experiences they want. If like me, you were part of this movement you’ll know it’s the best way to travel.

So what’s hot for 2018?

#1 – The Science Of Travel Goes Mainstream In Consumerism

You know that huge dopamine dump you experience when you unbox your new iPhone, laptop, drone or even car? How long before it entirely wears off and this beacon of pleasure returns to being an inanimate object, irritating you as much as exhilarating? Two weeks? A month?!

We become victims of our own accelerated adaptation. Within days, the enjoyment of material possessions fade and all that’s left is an empty bank account.

Three out of four millennials prefer spending money on experiences than possessions. The idea of ‘owning’ a unique experience gives you far more long-term satisfaction and happiness than the newest shiny piece of tech.

Via @jamie_davies on

The penny has most definitely dropped in 2018 (even if some travellers are in it for the perfect Instagram shot rather than the experience itself). We all have the drive to maximise enjoyment and happiness in our lives.

The science says that spending the time and money on experiences is how best to optimise this. In 2018, we’ll do it en masse.

#2 – Voluntourism Is Here To Stay

Sustainable travel and Voluntourism are arguably the biggest travel buzzwords to come out of the teenies (apparently that’s what we’re calling this decade now).

Anyone who has travelled to parts of the world less well developed than home will have the strikingly similar feeling of moral crisis, seeing first hand how difficult life is for some people. I experienced it in Southeast Asia, you may have in Africa, Central America or even in parts of Europe. It’s a natural human response to want to do something, and this is why many will consider volunteering abroad as part of their 2018 travel fix.

Is a ‘take, take, take’ philosophy to international travel ethically sound? I’m not sure how it can be. Sure, staying in a 5-star resort generates jobs and revenue for the locals who work there but for a lot of travellers, this doesn’t feel like enough especially when their boundless hospitality leaves you feeling undeserving of it (you know what I’m talking about, we’ve all had that feeling).

2018 is the year of the volunteer and whether we send participants to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal or somewhere else, the experience is a universally life-changing one. In a study conducted a couple of years ago, 84% of millennials said they would travel abroad to participate in volunteer projects as part of their trip.

Volunteering abroad isn’t without its dangers though as some companies seeming to offer authentic experiences are exploitive both for the volunteers and their causes. If you’re planning to volunteer abroad PLEASE do the research first.

The time you give back, will reward you in ways you could scarcely imagine.

#3 – Nomadic Living Will Continue To Rise Thanks To Online Work Environments

Hands up if you’ve come across companies promising you the perfect life, living on any corner of the world and clocking into work once an internet connection is present? Companies like Nomadlist, Remote Year and Unsettled are capitalising on this trend, listing hundreds of jobs and opportunities for digitally skilled workers, based anywhere in the world.

Digital infrastructures in the likes of Bali, Vietnam, Thailand and Eastern Europe are improving all the time, allowing global access to the Cloud, communication systems, and shared workspaces.  Very often the most difficult part of living the digital nomad lifestyle is ensuring compliance with visas and movement between borders (oh, hello there you know what we specialise in right?).

According to the NY Times, 43% of the US workforce worked remotely at some point in the last year with European working trends closely mirroring this. via @avi_richards


With digital nomads typically spending 1-3 months in a location and visiting 5-10 countries a year.

Right now working areas like software development, design and digital marketing dominate the nomadic lifestyle but expect more and more fields of work to be opened up to what is either a trendy fad, or a fundamental change to how we live. The future in this space couldn’t be more intriguing.

#4 – Fitness and Wellness Retreats To Thrive

Firstly, this is NOT merely down to the injection of motivation that inevitably comes with a New Year. This is one of the fastest growing areas in the travel industry.

Travel to train, travel to heal. via @jon_flobrant

The huge growth in fitness and wellness holidays is partly due to our modern society. We’re bombarded with messaging and data 24/7 like never before. It’s exhausting and it’s something our brains are having to quickly adapt to. The resulting urge to plug out, recharge, re-centre (buzzword bingo, we know) is strong and is being acted upon with more regularity.

Solo travellers and groups of friends are flocking to India, Indonesia, Peru and Thailand to improve their physical and mental well-being in order to better cope with the stresses of modern day living.

Yoga, Meditation, Biking and Crossfit have all become mainstream hobbies and passions. The Instagram phenomenon, whether it’s well-intentioned or not, is bringing people’s health and fitness into focus more than ever before and travellers are responding. It’s not just younger explorers either as numbers of Baby Boomers booking wellness retreats is also surging.

Unsurprisingly, more tropical climates like Bali and Thailand are benefitting most from this travel trend but it extends to Himalayan treks or numbers of Irish tackling Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

#5 – Ecotourism Becomes A Deciding Factor

Ecotourism used to be a significant consideration for some, but in 2018 it will be a significant consideration for all.

Climate change has never been more topical and, if the more grave predictions are to be believed, the Tipping Point is fast approaching if we’re not already beyond the environmental abyss. The future of the planet could be under threat and this has mobilised millions to sustain and if possible replenish the natural world as they explore it.

Resorts and even countries ability to operate sustainability and eco-friendly is now a leading attraction in the destination decision – just ask Costa Rica’s tourism minister.

I think each and every one of us can also agree that the Planet Earth II and Blue Planet BBC series will have had a positive impact of how we view the natural world, the experiences we want to cherish and the reasons for exploration. It’s given rise to ‘Last-Chance Tourism’, considered by Forbes to be the top trend in 2018 as people grasp the chance to see the Great Barrier Reef, Mauritius and Arctic glaciers before it’s too late.

Destinations we expect to thrive, while maintaining their natural resources include Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Norway, Australia and Canada.

#6 – Longer-Haul And Longer Breaks


Increased aviation competition has been a God-send, making far flung destination from Ireland much more affordable and accessible! Even 10 year ago, return flights to South America would have cost well over €1,200 and likely two or more stops. Now though, you can fly to Santiago, Rio or Buenos Aires direct from London and much more affordable than in the past.

Ireland is the undisputed king of international travel, and in 2018 we’ll continue to leverage lower prices and higher choice when deciding on a holiday destination.

Long haul flights are fast becoming just flights, as Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America become viable alternatives to the age-old European hotspots of Spain and France.

Not only this, but in 2018 we expect the number of full time ~Ecemployees booking longer than two-week getaways which opens up extreme tourism (Himalayas), round the world itineraries and providing endless freedom to have the holiday they dream about.

What trends are changing how you think about your travel? Where are you looking towards as 2018’s big adventure? We’d love to hear your plans (and help if we can), just email, call us on (01) 602 1600 or tag us using #JustUSIT across social.

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