Travel Trends | 2020 Vision: How Will You Travel?

How you will travel in 2020 and what you hope to gain from your experience are just as critical as where you intend to go. We hear you loud and clear

The majority of 2020 travel-trend predictions concentrate mostly on specific destinations that are set to become the ‘hottest’ places to visit. Yet we’ve realised that our guests have other (perhaps even more pivotal) objectives when planning their journey through Latin American and the Polar Regions. In this modern era of conscientious explorations, cultural immersion, experiential journeys and climate change concerns are becoming the biggest drivers of travel trends. Gone are the days of simple list-ticking. People don’t just want to see Machu Picchu, nowadays, they want to delve deeper into its cultural importance and want to know if their visit will be beneficial, both for them as visitors and the local communities as hosts.

When it comes down to it, we’re collectively a lot more conscious about how we spend our precious holiday time and funds.

At Chimu Adventures, we have given this travel vision for 2020 a name.

We call it our 2020 Vision.

See what we did there?

Woman holding a camera

How will you experience the world in 2020?


Where Can 2020 Travel Trends Take You?

It’s no surprise to know that trips to Latin America and the Polar Regions are leading the way to a varied travel wishlist for 2020, although it might surprise you to know that the most coveted destinations are no longer ‘the usual suspects’.

The World Travel Awards have just named Peru the #1 culinary AND culture destination for next year and the National Geographic wants you to go and drink world-class Malbec in Argentina and discover the ancient secrets of the Maya Empire in Guatemala. Meanwhile, Conde Nast Traveller thinks you’d be nuts not to explore Brazil’s off-beat Bahia State, lesser-touristed corners of Patagonia and the awe-inspiring (but hard to reach) Canadian Arctic. Most recently, Lonely Planet, publisher of arguably the most awaited travel-trend list every year, has tipped Uruguay, La Paz (Bolivia), Northeast Argentina and the Brazilian Amazon to be among the top 10 best in travel for 2020.

All of these worthy destinations have one main thing in common: they are not, in fact, all that common. And if you think that Brazil + Amazon is about as popular as it gets in Latin America, you’d be mistaken. The average person may equate the two but, when it comes to boots on the ground, the Brazilian side of the astonishing rainforest is among the lesser visited, most travellers choosing to visit the Amazon in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia as they have more convenient entry points.

But back to our 2020 Vision. We’re obviously not the only ones acknowledging the need to promote more meaningful travel. People want their journeys to blow them away, in every which way possible. And who’s to blame them? The economic and ecological costs of travel are increasing, every year, so explorers want to feel like they’re spending their money (and precious time) wisely.

What the world needs is travel that is meaningful, useful, soul-stirring, educative and immersive. It needs travel to teach us something new, to break cultural walls and bring people together; to highlight the plight of indigenous cultures all over the world and help preserve its most threatened wildlife and wilderness. Because if we can’t achieve more than a deep tan on our travels… should we even be getting on that plane?

A person hiking in Patagonia with large mountains in the background

Hiking in Patagonia. Photo: Shutterstock

The Real Travel Trends for 2020 – Beyond Destinations

By all means, choose the travel destination that most takes your fancy in 2020 but, whilst there, why not plan on making it a truly unforgettable journey? Travelling with a purpose is a trend that’s here to stay.

Here are the 6 most popular (and rewarding) travel trends set to take over in 2020:


1. Responsible & sustainable travel

All travel has come under scrutiny in recent years yet none more so than that carried out in the Polar Regions. We tackled the subject of responsible tourism in Antarctica and the Arctic just a few months ago, and the science-backed idea still holds true: as long as it’s done responsibly, tourism to remote, unspoilt (and uninhabited) regions of our planet can have the beneficial effect of raising awareness of the threats they face.

Even outside of the Polar Regions, however, there is a huge call to support a more sustainable and responsible form of travel. Travellers are responding well to the rise in the popularity of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Latin America, for example. They are acutely aware that seeking imported treats (to feel less homesick) is not very beneficial. They’re demanding a wider choice of eco-friendly accommodation and want to know if experiences in remote communities are culturally-sensitive. They enquire about the smallest cruise ship that fits within their budget and any community-based projects they may come across on their travels.

2020 Vision - EcoCamp Patagonia - photo of the dome hut with mountain in background

EcoCamp lodge, Patagonia – 100% sustainable. Photo: EcoCamp

2. Charity – the noble art of giving back

Global scepticism of big-branded charities has given rise to the need for more localised grassroots organizations, created by locals, for locals. We now want to be very direct with our donations, be it to a wildlife rescue centre to help koalas in Australia or to a woman entrepreneur in Bolivia who wants buy an empanada stand to support her family. We simply don’t want 90% of our donations to ‘get lost’ along the way down some logistical rabbit-hole.

This more direct gifting of aid has been found to create greater long-term benefits for local communities. It can include buying sustainable and responsible souvenirs directly from craftspeople, staying in a family-run lodge in remote communities and eating in smaller, locally-owned eateries when we travel. This way, our funds support those who need it most. Choose to eat at a local chifa rather than McDonalds when visiting Lima, for example, and you’re choosing to help the local community. Sometimes, it can be as simple as that.

At Chimu Adventures, we cover our bases on two fronts: Latin America and our own home country: Australia. Our MAD Project helps empower and support local communities in Latin America. In Australia, we’ve run fundraising voyages to Antarctica to raise funds for various causes (like The McGrath Foundation) and are proudly still contributing to the Buy a Bale Foundation, which provides much-needed bales of hay to struggling Aussie Farmers. Each step seems small on its own but, collectively, they help make a huge difference.

Sheep searching for something to eat in a dry dusty paddock during a dust storm

Chimu are proud to support Buy a Bale.

3. Transformational travel

Life-changing experiences are not usually something one can plan, although there’s no denying that some journeys to some destinations have the potential to change you and the way you see the world.

Minimalist travel is one such example and, contrary to what you may think, this doesn’t mean you set off to do nothing much at all. It means you disconnect from the hectic world you live in, connect to nature and leave all the stresses, modern high-tech gizmos and connectivity behind. Digital detox is a very real trend and something that’s becoming more popular every year. It seems people have had enough and, when travelling, just want a chance to quite simply S.T.O.P.

Remote eco-lodges in the Amazon rainforest, isolated estancias in Patagonia, multi-day trekking holidays and, basically, staying anywhere that prides itself on being ‘unplugged’.

A remote lodge on the Amazon River

Sacha Lodge, the Amazon. Photo: Sacha Lodge

Then there are those trips that take you to some of the most jaw-dropping places on earth, where nature is so grandiose that it makes you feel insignificant and overwhelmed. It’s this precise feeling that can have an earth-shattering effect on your soul. Antarctica is perhaps the most popular transformational travel destination on earth. There’s just no way you can stand in front of a 50m-tall wall of ice, at the end of our planet, and not be moved to the core by the experience.

2 people in a zodiac in Antarctica

Antarctica, a life-changing experience.

4. Experiential (immersive) travel

Do, not buy, is the mantra of those looking for an experiential journey in 2020. These curious adventurers are more interested in spending money on unique activities and excursions than filling their suitcase with cookie-cutter souvenirs that’ll end up in a draw. As such, they’ll ask us to skip the tourist market and, instead, include a visit to a craft centre or a remote community of craftsmen and women. If they buy, they want to buy hand-made, sustainable and responsible souvenirs that truly epitomise the destinations they’re visiting.

Close up of a woman weaving in Peru

Traditional Peruvian weaving. Photo: Shutterstock

But that’s only one aspect of experiential travel. Immersive travel also means being hands-on and throwing yourself into local life, be it by taking a language or cooking course, helping out at a local estancia, enjoying homestays rather than hotel stays and finding ways to connect with the local culture. Sometimes, it can be as simple as taking a local, knowledgeable guide along for a visit to a prominent historical or cultural highlight, to learn more about its origins and meaning. Local experiences are crucial to gaining profound insights and more meaningful experiences.

For foodies, this could mean taking culinary classes and tours in every city and, for avid hikers, planning to explore wilderness, on foot, for half their journey. There’s a myriad of ways to enjoy experiential travel, and your passions and hobbies can help steer you in the right direction and add purpose to your South America travels.

Experience authentic Patagonian life. Photo: Awasi Patagonia

5. Slow travel

Like a good roast dinner that’s allowed to simmer in the oven for hours on end, a slow journey can amplify the experience of any trip, the taste of it, ten-fold. When you take your foot off the travel-pedal, you give yourself time to adjust and acclimatise. Not just to altitudes but also attitudes and cultures. You notice more when you slow down, and can indulge in seemingly mundane things like searching for a local hole-in-the-wall where to have your daily café con leche and medialuna.

What’s more, slow travel can mean fewer flights and more road-travel, and this has a wealth of benefits. Explore one area thoroughly, and you’ll not only be reducing your carbon emission, but you’ll be forging a much stronger connection with your destination. You’ll also feel less rushed and overwhelmed by sensory overload. Ever travelled, returned home, and felt the whole trip was a blur of exciting adventures? Slow it down and every day will come into focus more. Swap a sightseeing bus tour for a bicycle or walking tour, take a phenomenal train ride through the countryside instead of flying and stay longer, everywhere, than you otherwise would. For every famous highlight, there are at least two dozen more that aren’t in your guide book and, sometimes, they can be even more amazing.

If that’s not all, slow travel is also much kinder on your wallet. So you can travel longer.

Mic drop….

A woman sitting on a rock smiling

Slow down and enjoy the moment. Photo: Shutterstock

6. The road less travelled

In all honesty, when was the last time you met someone who said they vacationed in Uruguay?! And still, as Lonely Planet rightly says, here is an unassuming little country that is absolutely gorgeous, rewarding and fascinating but, because it’s flanked by much bigger and more prominent neighbours, has never really emerged from the shadows.

Yet Uruguay is one of the safest and most progressive countries on earth. It’s vibrant, young, avant-garde, and tolerant, whilst boasting amazing infrastructure, fantastic food, sophisticated cities and incredible architecture. Uruguay is where Latin America travel specialists go when they want to get away from it all and enjoy a superlative and very authentic journey.

And the best part about it is that the world is full of Uruguays, if only you seek them out. Exploring the road less travelled is about the easiest way to take a mere holiday and turn it into a truly unforgettable experience.

Young woman sitting at Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs) in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Photo: Shutterstock

The change in travel-trends, over the last couple of years, has been astonishing and, if you ask us, totally uplifting. Sustainable travel is the #1 travel trend for 2020 and perhaps the one that best encompasses the rest.

We hope your travel vision for 2020 is as sharp and clear as that.

Ready to create YOUR trip of a lifetime? At Chimu, we know each Latin American country and each Polar vessel by heart and will work with you to tailor your adventure to suit your needs, interests, and preferred methods of travel. Contact us to find out more.


Author: Laura Pattara

“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”