It seems like yesterday that everyone suddenly realized Iceland exists and flew across the world for a weekend getaway, doesn’t it? I actually think I’m the only one of my friends who didn’t book a flight to what looks like, I’m sorry, a miserable time. I’ll keep my freezing cold and aggressively humid conditions in New York, thanks. Clearly, I’m on a different wavelength than literally every other millennial who simultaneously booked this trip. This actually brings up an important question: how do travel destinations become trendy? It’s not like Pangea just split and we are dying to see what that breakup did to the different parts of the world. These places have been around forever, so who decides which ones will become the new hot spots?
Obviously, people in the public eye or anyone with a few thousand Instagram followers can declare something cool and before you can say “tiny sunglasses,” it’s everywhere. Experiences, though, are an entirely different ball game. Are entire countries just doing a rebrand in the hopes of having the next Revolve trip there? The answer is, low-key, yes. It’s all just clever marketing and a little dash of hope. Case in point: I found an article with “top travel trends in 2020” in the title, and I had to click it to get a sense of where all the Bachelor rejects will be Instagramming next year. Some of the predictions only seem viable for the 1%, but dare I say, I hope some actually do find their way down to us mere peasants. *Waves hand in a beckoning motion towards imaginary camera* Let’s go.
After reading that subhead, I assumed this was a “tiny house” situation to which my reaction was “no.” But then I read the subsequent blurb and learned it’s just “Go off grid with just the bare minimum, with the aim of freeing yourself up both mentally and physically and reconnecting with what is around you.” I get taking a little break to enjoy where you are, but the bare minimum? No, thank you. Even though I can barely afford my Spotify Premium account, I’m not about to shell out my hard-earned money to try on minimalism. Isn’t the whole point of staying in a hotel to enjoy luxuries you don’t have in your everyday life? The blurb continues, “Get back to nature and book a stay in a tiny hideout removed from the modern world.” I mean, if the damn PR can’t even dress this up, who can? Is the hotel just Dean Unglert’s van? Asking for a friend.
This word is giving me major Naked and Afraid vibes, and I don’t want to pay to be those things—especially on vacation. I would easily dismiss this as a trend that absolutely no one is doing, except for the “perineum sunning” meme that was all over the internet in early December. In case you missed that, people were advocating for tanning (get this) their buttholes and genitals because, as one woman named Megan put it (of course it was a Megan), doing so “strengthens organs, improves libido, regulates circadian rhythm, boosts mental focus, and increases energy.”
The blurb about the travel trends notes, “Prepare to get your kit off because naked retreats and holidays are on the rise,” citing the opening of London’s first naked restaurant and the fact that “naked yoga retreats are on the hotlist next year” as evidence of this burgeoning fad. And I just have a few questions. Whose hotlist are naked yoga retreats on? How exactly would a naked restaurant pass any sort of health inspection? And what, in god’s name, is a kit, and what does it mean to get it off?
I can already tell I can’t afford this, but here we go. Contrary to what I imagined, luxpeditions aren’t just really expensive hotels, but rather, really expensive experiences. Authentic PR suggests “Book a five night charter yacht trip island hopping!” Yeah, let me just do that! Sorry, am I booking a vacation or auditioning to be the next Below Deck charter guest? Just to see how realistic this was, I sent the article to my best friend’s very rich parents and asked if they’d be interested in any of these trips and her mom wrote back, “Lol. Very funny joke.” So if people like her, people who wear fur coats to the damn drug store, think this is absurd, who is actually going on luxpeditions? More importantly, can you take me with you?
Not that I understand the inner workings of a hipster, but I feel like cruises—no matter what kind—are not hipster by definition. Like, if your natural state of being involves wearing wire-rimmed round glasses (that may or may not have a prescription) and going to bars in Bushwick to drink hard kombucha out of paper or metal straws, I can’t see you being marooned on a boat for days at a time. Not to mention, do hipsters even exist anymore? Haven’t we all moved on to like, VSCO girls and soft girls and the other Gen-Z stereotypes?
So what about the cruise makes it hipster? “There will be Tom Dixon-designed interiors, a tattoo parlor, karaoke studios, an open-air gym, a vinyl record shop curated by Mark Ronson, bars serving craft beer, and all-inclusive restaurants serving vegan Impossible Burgers and CBD cocktails.” First of all, no hipsters know who Tom Dixon is, so you probably just lost a few of them with that opening offer. Secondly, did the creator of hipster cruises just Google “What do hipsters like” and design a giant boat to house it all? All of these features are so aggressively mainstream that even I, a basic bitch, am familiar with them. I can’t imagine the amount of sh*t I’d get if my friends were like “Cool tattoo, where’d you get it?” and I’d be forced to say on a cruise. Right? Are these offerings supposed to be ironic? If so, maybe that will work. Hipsters love irony!
Now, not all of the proposed 2020 travel trends made me raise an eyebrow, and some of them were actually pretty cool. I thought it was only fair that I took a look at the trends I do actually hope become a thing.
Interest piqued! “No longer is it enough just to be a hotel—next year it’s all about experiential stays,” the article says. This means that instead of just having like, a bar and maybe even a rooftop with a couple strategically hung tea lights to take Instagrams at, hotels will lean into providing more well-rounded experiences, like a literary festival, art exhibition, or even an Artist in Residence program. I feel like in theory, this sounds like a good idea, but in practice, I’m still going to feel like an asshole if I spend my entire vacation at my hotel, photo exhibition or no.
Conde Nast Traveler reported, “As the reality of a climate crisis looms, travellers in 2020 and beyond will need to do everything they can to balance the negative impact of their trips with positives.” This can be done by donating money to renewable energy projects; using ethical search engines such as Ecosia Travel, which uses profits to plant trees, to book hotels; and choosing brands that are committed to sustainability. Given that Greta Thunberg was just named TIME‘s Person of the Year, I think naming this a 2020 travel trend is a pretty surefire bet.
I am into this. I imagine a garden hotel to look like the last scene in Moana when she restores the heart of Te Fiti and everything just bursts into bloom. Garden hotels seem like they’d be really popular, since we as a society are now thoroughly unimpressed with flower walls. If your mind just drifted to the ridiculous floral installations in Vegas, think again! These are more lush, natural-looking installations that will make you appreciate nature more than they’ll make you wonder how long it took to make.
Articles like these make me so happy because they make me realize that there are people out here selling these types of things to other people who will actually buy into it. Do these people actually want to take a hipster cruise or were they just lured in by the promise of Tom Dixon’s ability to choose good sofas? Do they regret shelling out an obscene amount of money for these shenanigans or do they feel like they’ve made the wrong choice? So many questions, yet I feel like I’ll never get the answers I need.
Images: Maria Ilves / Unsplash (7); Authentic PR