Tours & Trips

4 Meaningful Travel Trends to Watch in 2020

Go Overseas
Topic Expert

Go Overseas was started with the simple idea of creating a centralized website to provide the resources required for meaningful travel abroad.

It's almost a new year -- it's almost a new decade! Are you ready for all the experience and wonder the 2020s have to offer? We certainly are, and we're excited to see where the next year will take us, and all of you as you travel.

Last year, we started a new tradition to share our thoughts on some of the meaningful travel trends of 2019 we thought would be relevant to keep in mind for the coming year. We're back this year to share a new list -- well, almost new, as you'll see. Our #1 trend this year was also on the list last year -- and we think it's worthy of being on the list for the foreseeable future as we all figure out how we can keep exploring, keep meeting new people, keep coming back from life-changing experiences while ensuring future generations can enjoy them too.

Read on to learn about the four meaningful travel trends we've identified for 2020.

Meaningful Travel Trend #1. Sustainable Travel

"Awareness of climate impact has finally reached a point where travelers weigh the pros/cons of every aspect of travel, even the act of flying somewhere at all. Is it worth the environmental impact to gain perspective?" -- Jason, Director of Growth Marketing

If we were forced to choose just one meaningful travel trend to pay attention to in 2020, it would be this: Sustainable Travel. And we can't ask the question better than our teammate Jason did, challenging us all to think about whether meaningful travel can exist in the world in a sustainable way.

While these are questions we continue to grapple with, we can't deny that Sustainable Travel is the biggest trend shaping travel habits around the world -- it's also the one that basically every Go Overseas team member said we need to include in this list. We don't have the answers on how we can reduce the environmental impact of travel, but we'll be working to consider ways to let you, our community, know about programs that help protect the environment alongside providing immersive, life-changing experiences.

Meaningful Travel Trend #2. Heritage Travel

"Many people are doing DNA tests and taking trips according to the results, trying to connect with their family's roots. It will help people connect with the international community." -- Alexandra, Associate Account Manager

Increasingly, the world is full of people who are from somewhere else -- and it's a wonderful thing! That also means travelers are increasingly driven to explore the world and seek their roots -- whether that means studying abroad in the country your ancestors came from, or learning the language they spoke before they emigrated.

The best part of the Heritage Travel trend is that so many people are from a number of different places -- you can plan several trips to discover your heritage first-hand!

Meaningful Travel Trend #3. Low Budget Travel

"Travelers are always looking for affordable ways to explore new locations. Given the current buzz of a possible recession in 2020, travelers will want to embrace more creative, cost-conscious ways of experiencing meaningful travel opportunities. Work exchange and volunteer programs offer program participants authentic and affordable ways to immerse themselves in a culture." -- Alia, VP of Operations & Marketing

We get it: despite what you see on Instagram and TikTok, not everybody has a big bank account to fund their jet-setting adventures. Those of us in the real world have to come up with the funds for our own global experiences -- whether that's volunteering abroad in Tanzania, taking your gap year in India, or teaching English in Chile.

That's why we think that this is the year of 'Low Budget Travel.' Instead of maxing out credit cards and coming home to face the financial consequences, we predict a rise in opportunities like work abroad exchanges, interning abroad for living stipends, and other creative solutions to help you see the world and save those hard-earned dollars, pounds, euro, or whatever you get paid.

Meaningful Travel Trend #4. Culturally Conscious Travel

"Travelers have overtaken so much of the world today. It's important now to measure the impact this travel is having on local communities and the environment, and to make sure travel stays sustainable." -- Andrew, Co-Founder & CTO

Have you ever thought about how your visit to a new culture impacts that place and the people who live there? While we might roll this into our #1 trend (Sustainable Travel), we think that the rise of Culturally Conscious Travel is important enough to mention on its own.

Being a culturally conscious traveler means researching the people and place before you arrive so that you're respectful and open-minded to new experiences. It also means doing what you can to reduce how much your own culture gets imprinted onto the people you meet. Obviously, cross-cultural interactions are a critical part of travel, and great for expanding everyone's view about the world and all of its wonders -- and there are types of meaningful travel where that's inevitable (like longer-term travel such as interning, teaching, or working abroad). But we can always be aware that coming to a new place with our own culture and expecting everything to work the way we expect isn't being respectful to the culture that's already there.

Instead, we hope you'll join us on the meaningful travel trend of Culturally Conscious Travel by exploring the globe with an open mind and heart -- and helping locals protect their way of life even as the immense power of tourism reshapes the globe.

There you have it -- our four predictions for the travel trends we'll see on the rise in 2020. Which of these trends are you most interested in exploring for yourself in the new year? We're excited to try them all! Happy New Year!