I follow travel blogs. A lot of them. Most fall within a certain category - 20-30-something, female, solo travelers from the United States. There are outliers for each demographic, sure, but overwhelmingly, I read blogs where I can imagine myself in the traveler's shoes with little effort. (Travel fan fic, guys - it's what it comes down to.)
As 2014 wrap-up posts have been posted, and 2015 plans and wishlists start to emerge, I'm seeing some patterns. Some are smack-you-in-the-face obvious. (I'm going to XYZ!) Others require more of a leap in logic, judging where people have gone in the past, or what hot events will inspire them to travel in the near future.
While I don't have any grand travel plans this year, here are some places I'm looking forward to reading about (or hoping to!) in 2015...
Sri Lanka's been an up and coming destination since civil war ended in 2009, but last year's TBEX Asia conference increased its visibility. Not as overwhelming as India, and serving as a new alternative to southeast Asia, the island nation will continue to grow in popularity in 2015.
Iceland has been huge in the blogosphere for several years now and travel bloggers seem to love it so much that they frequently return. Between online coverage and good marketing on Iceland's part, I'm starting to see everyday travelers visiting or adding it to their bucket lists. Jay-Z and Beyonce's recent visit will only make it more popular.
Greece is making a comeback. While it was a hot destination for years, vacationers have stayed away since 2010, unnerved by the financial crisis. Meanwhile, budget travelers have kept their mouths shut about what an awesome deal a Greek vacation can be. Last year's TBEX Europe being held in Athens may have signaled the beginning of a new classical era.
Central America will gain popularity in general, but Nicaragua seems like the perfect poster child for the region. While tourists look for alternatives to Mexico, bloggers have been writing about what a great deal the countries south of the border can be for a couple years now.
South Africa has become standard fare on many itineraries, but Namibia continues to teeter on the brink of popularity. I think we're going to see more visits to this wildly beautiful country as returning travelers seek out add-ons to another Cape Town visit.
While Southeast Asia has been pretty thoroughly explored by many bloggers, Myanmar remains largely uncovered. While they're in the neighborhood for TBEX Asia 2015 in Bangkok, I'm hoping some travelers will seek out new ground and share their impressions of this recently "reopened" country.
Costa Brava will become the next Greece - that destination that used to be popular, just waiting for a new take. Bloggers will provide this fresh coat of paint when they arrive in sunny Spain for TBEX Europe 2015. And while I've heard it's boring, I'm hoping to read about some side trips to Andorra as well.
As travel blogging has matured from a few scruffy vagabonds with laptops to an industry, corners of the world that couldn't be afforded on a backpacker's budget now seem to be in reach. I've also noticed more and more honest posts on travel burnout in 2014 - the Maldives seems like a pretty awesome place to decompress when a jet-setting lifestyle catches up with you.
Brazil seems to be on many bloggers' wishlists, but for years, the affordability of the rest of South America put the land of samba on the back burner. Now that young travelers have visited Peru and Bolivia, and are growing older and more affluent, we're going to see more people flying down to Rio. Travel for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics will only increase the fervor. Enjoy the gap year!
Less influenced by other travelers than by politics, I predict bloggers will flock to Cuba (or wriggle in through back channels) as the US attempts to reopen ties with the Caribbean nation. Travelers who wish to experience the "real" Cuba, before it's officially reopened to Americans, may only have a short window.
Cinque Terre has been low-key popular ever since Rick Steves first wrote about it. It occupies that weird place as a mid-level attraction in a country that's hugely popular with the average tourist. Savvy backpackers who may have stuck to Portugal or Croatia on their last jaunt round Europe and tourists who've already done Florence and Venice will be discovering the five villages for the first time.
Canada's going to be a quiet giant this year, I'll predict. For American bloggers, it's perfect for a closer-to-home trip that still not exactly home. A few regions will be responsible for most of the tourism - cities in the Pacific northwest and French-flavored Quebec will thrive. As Northern Lights tourism continues to grow, more people will head to the Great White North in hopes of catching a glimpse.
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