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How Many of These ‘Trending’ 2020 Travel Destinations Have You Heard of?

Top 10 lists are ubiquitous, especially in travel; it seems there’s one for everything. And when it comes to destinations, whether it’s a “most popular” or “up-and-coming” ranking, these lists tend to be a mix of well-known cities and semi-under-the-radar places. Unless you’re a Booking.com user planning 2020 travel, apparently.

The travel booking site’s 10 Top Trending Destinations for 2020, part of its 2020 Travel Predictions, surfaced some truly niche places in surveying travelers across the globe. Pat yourself on the back if you’ve heard of even three or four of these locations:

Booking.com Trending 2020 Travel Destinations

  • Gzira, Malta
  • Ninh Binh, Vietnam
  • Salta, Argentina
  • Seogwipo, South Korea
  • Jodhpur, India
  • Swinoujscie, Poland
  • Takamatsu, Japan
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Zabljak, Montenegro
  • Yerevan, Armenia

Booking.com polled over 22,000 travelers who had taken a trip in the previous 12 months, or plan to take on in the next 12 months, including at least 1,000 travelers each from Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, China, Brazil, India, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, Indonesia, Colombia and South Korea. This likely accounts for the varied, global results.

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Outside of San Juan, that’s a whole bunch of places most people probably haven’t heard of. Notably absent are any destinations in mainland North America, or in Africa. So if these destinations truly are “trending,” as Booking.com says, what trends are we talking about?

‘Second City’ Travel

We’ll always have Paris … all twenty-plus million of us. Major destinations may have the goods when it comes to famous attractions, museums, and cultural sites, but they are relentlessly crowded, particularly during peak travel seasons like summer and the holidays. Booking.com says it anticipates a trend toward “second city” travel, as travelers look to explore lesser known destinations “in a bid to reduce over-tourism and protect the environment.”

“Over half (54 percent) of global travelers want to play a part in reducing over-tourism,” says Booking.com, “while 51% would swap their original destination for a lesser known but similar alternative if they knew it’d leave less of an environmental impact.”

Indeed, some of the destinations listed here are secondary to larger and better-known locales: Gzira is across the harbor from Valetta, which is the capital of Malta. Takamatsu sits a stone’s throw (and a ferry ride) away from Osaka, Japan.

‘Slo-Mo’ Travel

Booking.com also identified “slo-mo” travel as a trend, which is reflected in several of the destinations chosen. According to Booking.com: “In 2020, almost half (48 percent) of travelers plan to take slower modes of transport to reduce their environmental impact and six in 10 (61 percent) would prefer to take a longer route to experience more of the journey itself … In fact, over half (57 percent) of travelers already don’t mind spending more time traveling to reach their destination if they’re taking a unique mode of transport.”

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This makes sense, considering many of the destinations on this list are pretty out of the way. Salta, Argentina, sits in the Andean foothills; quite removed from Argentina’s better known destinations. The same is true for Swinoujscie, Ninh Binh, Jodhpur, and Seogwipo. The journey is part of the experience for each of these locales, and the remote location lends itself to a slower-paced getaway.

Readers: Are any of these destinations on your list? Will you look into them now? Comment below.

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Japan. I'd love to take a month off and visit the cities, temples, and countryside. I'm fascinated by the country's juxtaposition of ancient traditions and modern ambitions."

Travel Motto: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –Terry Pratchett

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