Travel trends: What will shape travel in the USA in 2019?

Travel trends: What will shape travel in the USA in 2019?

The way we travel is changing, and changing fast. New flight routes mean that lesser-known corners of the United States are easy to reach; new sports are emerging; and even the way we eat and socialise is evolving – food halls are now cool new places to hangout. These things and more, are set to shape the way we travel in the USA in 2019.

Strengthening of existing airline routes

Following a long list of new flight launches in 2018, 2019 will see airlines strengthening their routes and increasing flight regularity. Some examples include British Airways’ London to Nashville flight which will be increased from a three-times-weekly service to a daily service in summer 2019 – the airline’s fastest new route to increase to a daily service in 10 years. Delta is also increasing travel options to the U.S. from summer 2019 with a daily flight from London Heathrow to Portland International Airport (up from the four-times-weekly flight) which is the only nonstop link from the UK, plus a daily service to Detroit’s Wayne County Metropolitan Airport. In March 2019, Virgin Atlantic will introduce a double daily route for the UK’s shortest transatlantic route between London Heathrow and Boston.

Low-cost long-haul flight expansion

Meanwhile the increase in the availability of flights from low-cost airlines – namely Norwegian Air and WOW air – is making family travel to the U.S. more affordable. In 2018 Norwegian increased its service of London to Fort Lauderdale flights, improving access to Florida’s east coast and theme parks, while December 2018’s new seasonal route from Wow Air, which links London and Orlando three times a week until April 2019, has made the region more accessible for those travelling on a tighter budget.

The trendy way to road trip

The U.S. has long been synonymous with epic road trip holidays, but 2019 will see an alternative way to gain momentum: the camper van. RV holidays have been a favourite for Americans for decades, but thanks to #vanlife – one of the biggest wanderlust-inspiring hashtags on Instagram over the last few years – holidaymakers have also started to take note. The hashtag sees couples, solo travellers and families pack up their belongings and live out of a van or RV, with the U.S. front and centre of the awe-inspiring pictures. It’s increased interest in RV and camper van trips, with the U.S. being the perfect playground for initial adventures.

Luxury hotel scene continues to thrive

There are a huge number of luxury hotel launches in the U.S. throughout 2019. Chicago will welcome the opening of Nobu Chicago and the Hoxton Chicago (both opening in the up-and-coming meatpacking district), while Nashville will see the opening of Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels Nashville, which will open in the historic Music Row neighbourhood in December 2019, with the Margaritaville Nashville Hotel due to open in the SoBro neighbourhood in autumn 2019. Other stylish city openings will include the West Hollywood Edition, Hard Rock New Orleans, and the first Shinola hotel, which will open in Detroit. California will also see a host of luxury openings, with hotels ranging from the Four Seasons Napa Valley to the Rosewood Montecito.

Surfing holidays to become more popular

Following the announcement that surfing will be recognised as an official sport in the 2020 Olympics, all eyes are on America’s hottest surf destinations. The sport has quickly been gathering global recognition over the last decade as a fun way to enjoy the ocean, with physical and mental benefits to boot. Popular California surfing destinations will thrive: Huntington Beach, half way between Los Angeles and San Diego and officially dubbed Surf City USA, it is the site of the U.S. Open competition, and many of the city’s schools offer surf lessons as standard. Meanwhile, two wave parks constructed with state-of-the-art technology to create artificial waves now exist in Texas, with more to follow elsewhere – meaning surfing is no longer just the domain of coastal cities.

Music-focused travel leads the way

Music continues to be a key driver for travel to the U.S., whether it’s visiting for live concerts, or on pilgrimages to iconic music cities. New British Airways flights into Nashville and New Orleans over the last few months have opened up the Deep South, while the increase of services to Nashville is set to make the city an even-more popular destination for music lovers, particularly with new behind-the-scenes music experiences with Imagine Recordings, and the first-ever guided Music Row Walking Tour, which takes in prolific recording studios and publishing houses, launching in 2018. Elsewhere, new hotels in New Orleans will make NOLA’s jazz music scene more accessible, while Delta’s daily flight services and a shiny new Shinola hotel opening will put Detroit, the birthplace of Motown and techno, back on the map.

Packrafting goes mainstream

Packrafting – travelling by an inflatable raft that folds away into a backpack – is one of the coolest new ways to travel and reach undiscovered parts of the world, and the sport is already a firm favourite among U.S. locals (the American Packrafting Association reports that 76 percent of its members picked up the hobby in the last few years). While packrafting is relatively unheard of in Europe, U.S. states are filled with packrafting adventures. Visitors can paddle through the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska with Kennicott Guides, or see the Grand Canyon National park on six-day hiking and packrafting trip with Wildland Trekking in Arizona. The method of travel is set to become even-more popular in 2019, as travellers look to discover harder-to-reach terrain.

Food halls are the new food trucks

While food trucks remain popular with visitors to the UK, the way locals and visitors are consuming food is set to change. According to a report by commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield, there were about 70 food halls in the country in 2015. By the beginning of 2020 it’s estimated that this figure will have tripled. This is thanks, in part, to the likes of Time Out Market – the brand opened its first food hall in Lisbon in 2014, and has since brought the concept to Miami, New York, Chicago and will be opening in Boston next year (it will be one of two food halls opening in the city next year). New York is home to 12 food halls, while Austin has four – with more on the way in both cities. The food halls (as opposed to food courts) are often cool and contemporary settings, with modern furniture, neon signs, and food outlets from some of the city’s top chefs – ensuring a quality and inexpensive dining experience.

The rise of solo travel… and the sharecation

Solo travel will continue to increase in popularity in 2019, with several companies and hotel groups easing booking and comfort for solo travellers – from Busabout, hop-on hop-off coach trips, to cool new hostels making solo travel affordable, without a single supplement. Coinciding with the trend for solo travel in the U.S. is the rise of the sharecation. Intrepid Travel reports that the group’s U.S. trips are more popular with solo travellers than any other destination – in 2018, 70% of passengers on Intrepid Travel’s U.S. trips travelled on their own (popular tours included Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Hawaii).

Holidays on horseback

Next year sees the launch of several new luxury ranch-style retreats that will put horse riding at the front and centre of their activity program. The Lodge at Blue Sky in Utah and Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe are just two of the retreats, while tour operator Ranch Rider reports on the trend of using horse riding as part of a wellness regime, thanks to its ability to clear minds and reduce stress. The company’s yoga and riding retreat in Arizona is returning for a second year in a row thanks to demand from travellers.

More Information

Visit The USA
Visit The USA focuses on inspiring travelers to experience the country’s vibrancy, culture and infinite possibilities unlike anywhere else in the world.

Want to learn more about USA? Watch our episode Empire Builders – America to learn about the buildings and structures that have shaped this nation’s history and identity.