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The arrival of a new year always brings about a wave of fresh travel trends and must-do ways of wandering, but it’s also an opportunity to reshape our exploratory approach by improving the way we impact the globe as a responsible traveler.

At Exodus, we’re committed to ensuring that no matter where we lead you, the world’s many natural and cultural wonders will continue to embolden adventurous hearts for many new years to come. Here are 12 travel trends and tips – one for every month of the year – that prove 2020 is going to be The Year of the Thoughtful Traveler.

Responsible Travel Tips

Plastic Bottle BanPlastic littered beach

1. Fighting the War on Plastics

With the help of advocates like David Attenborough and his popular program, BBC’s Blue Planet, the world is starting to wake up to the detrimental effects single-use plastics are having on the earth.

Drastically reducing the use of plastics in-destination is essential to the ongoing development of sustainable travel, which is why we have decided to ban the bottle and eliminate all single-use plastic bottles on all trips. Over the last year, Exodus saved over 1.3 million water bottles by offering alternatives to single-use bottles.

Responsible Tiger Safari in IndiaWild tiger

2. Rethink Your Wild Encounters

As the use of animals for entertainment continues to come under scrutiny, traveling nature-lovers are seeking responsible, 100% hands-off wildlife encounters as a result.

From observing sea turtles, monkeys and sloths from a safe distance in Costa Rica to opting to avoid Thailand’s “tiger temples” and taking a wild safari in India to spot the elusive creature instead, the demand for responsible animal encounters that focus on conservation is now on the rise.

Inspiration Project Children

Asian schoolchildren

3. Empowering Vulnerable Communities

With the rise of social consciousness leading to a change in the way people travel, the exploitation of kids in developing countries (such as voluntourism in orphanages and school visits) has reached a tipping point, and empowering female tourism workers to succeed in-destination has become more important than ever.

For adventurers looking for meaningful ways to impact the destinations they visit, initiatives like Exodus’ Inspiration Project (which takes schoolchildren on safaris and camping trips), and Freedom Kit Bags project (which supplies women in low-income Nepalese areas with sanitary wear) are creating positive change in communities around the world that are responsible, respectful, and most importantly, non-invasive.

Sphinx in EgyptPyramids and the Sphinx

4. Sand Dunes are Making a Comeback

Whether it’s a call to chase sand dunes via 4WD in the increasingly-popular Oman or the vast desert and ancient treasuries of Jordan thanks to the upcoming remake of Disney’s Aladdin which was filmed there, there has been massive shift in public perception in destinations and the number of travelers returning to the Middle East with no signs of slowing down.

Looking for even more history and culture? Head to the archaeological wonder that is Egypt for a front-row seat at the pyramids, cruise down the Nile traffic-free, and learn from locals who have plenty of stories to share. Go now to beat the crowds!

Loire Valley Vineyard


6. Adventures for Active Oenophiles

Wine tasting will always be a popular way to spend a week away, but 2019 is primed for a new way to sip and savor: Cycling wine tours, as a way to whet the palate. More and more, wine-lovers are willing to stray from the beaten path in pursuit of a more full-bodied, active experience.

From two-wheeling your way through world-famous vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape, taking cycling tours of ancient cave cellars in the Loire Valley’s Vouvray, there’s no better reward for a day of outdoor activity than with a hard-won glass of vino, vin, or bubbly.

Japan Kumano Kodo

Tour of Japan

8. Trekking That Takes Us Back in Time

Skip the more well-trodden paths this year and instead opt for lesser-known pilgrimages in search of self-discovery and immersive cultural experiences for 2019. Whether it’s delving into Japan’s legendary Kumano Kodo pathway and rising to the challenge like a Samurai or tackling the lesser-known path of Sigerico, The Francigena Way from Orvieto to Rome, these ancient trails are about to blow up the travelsphere.

The popularity of these iconic trails comes from their ability to help people unplug, follow in the footsteps of history, and discover the world’s most authentic – and original – “beaten paths.”

Train ride through Southeast AsiaTrain through Nepal

9. Spend Less, Stay Longer

If you’re looking to cut down on costs but don’t want to compromise the experience, considering going abroad less often and instead increase your trip length. This helps keep prices down, allows for a more immersive experience, and goes a long way in making you feel like a local.

Plus, taking it slow and staying for longer also reduces your carbon footprint – bonus! Instead of a short stay in Europe or the Caribbean owhy not dedicate 22-days to a trek of Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit.

Llamas on the Inca TrailLlamas at Machu Picchu

10. Llamas are the 2019 “It” Animal

Despite their track record for projectile slobber, you can’t help but love llamas. It may be that these woolly creatures look adorable on t-shirts and mugs, or it may just be the eyelashes, but the llama has been labeled “the new unicorn” thanks to the Netflix release of the animated show Llama Llama. Check out these furry, long-necked creatures along Peru’s ancient Inca Trail.

Exploring the Greek IslandsSantorini

11. Ditch the Ship – Explore the “Medi” on Foot

With the excess of cruise ships now flooding busy Mediterranean ports, it’s easy to find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the crowds. Walking one’s way through the wonders of the Greek Islands is a more sustainable approach to experiencing a destination than a carbon-heavy cruise ship, and unveiling Malta’s legendary coastal charms allow you to discover local gems only reachable on foot. 

Vietnam Rice TerracesHills of Vietnam

12. There’s No Place Like (Someone Else’s) Home

While we love a great hotel stay, there’s something special about having the comforts of a home away from home in a local family-run operation.

Whether taking in village life during a homestay on the Mekong Delta or resting up after a day of exploring through the countryside of Andalucia, these unique stays are about more than just experiencing a family’s everyday life firsthand; choosing locally-run properties also contributes directly to a community’s economy and offers the chance to be fully immersed in local cultures.

See more trips below and become a more responsible traveler.