What Travel Trends to Expect in 2025
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What Travel Trends to Expect in 2025

Travelers have much to look forward to in 2025. Communities around the world are embracing a growing desire for more authentic travel. This will allow travelers to have less time on tour buses and more time with local residents. It also opens the door for more sustainable travel.

The path to this improvement has been long. The pandemic’s economic impact was huge in smaller villages that once thrived on tourism. Data crunchers say 2025 will be the year that international travel finally recovers from the pandemic. The Asia-Pacific region has lagged behind continents like Europe. But hopes are high that travel will be back to 2019 levels in 2025.

Teens can enjoy the beautiful landscapes in Thailand.

Teens can enjoy the beautiful landscapes in Thailand. Credit: Rustic Pathways

The World Tourism Industry Organization has tracked the progress. The numbers were looking good as 2023 came to a close. But Asia and Pacific have still only reached 62% of pre-pandemic levels. That’s finally expected to turn the tide in 2025.

This will be made possible by some new travel trends. Looking ahead, here are some of the forecasts for international travel in 2025.

#1: Eco-friendly travel will be a priority.

Concerns about the environment are high among travelers. The daily dose of bad news about climate change is having an impact. Now travelers want sustainable experiences. This affects many areas, including:

Accommodations – In many countries, unchecked resorts have caused substantial environmental problems. In the Dominican Republic, the Punta Cana resort area is a prime example. About half of the Dominican Republic’s international visitors stay in this resort region.

Punta Cana wasn’t prepared for this explosion of tourism. Brown algae have increased in the Caribbean due to improper water waste management and other pollution. Precious coral reefs have been damaged, and other marine life is at risk. Everything from increased boat traffic to damaging sunblock lotion has played a role. The region is now racing to reverse trends.

To avoid this problem, an increasing number of people are looking for eco-resorts or homestay opportunities. Travel programs run by local residents are more likely to have these types of accommodations. For example, staff in Thailand selected a sustainable jungle camp for the teen travel program, Thailand Adventurer.

The jungle camp’s bungalows and tree houses are built from bamboo and other renewable resources. The owners use biodegradable sugarcane products for plastics and reusable metal straws. They also have an onsite organic farm. Plus, the property hosts environmental lessons for guests in their outdoor space. These types of accommodations are expected to grow in popularity in 2025.

Activities – Increasingly more people are seeking activities that help the environment rather than harm it.  Many organizations are taking notice. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors – PADI – is among them. It established the Green Fins initiative to protect and conserve coral reefs.

Rustic Pathways students do some underwater cleaning in the Dominican Republic.

Rustic Pathways students do some underwater cleaning in the Dominican Republic. Credit: Rustic Pathways

Local residents leading activities are taking the same approach. They spearhead travel options like the Marine Life and Coastal Restoration program in the Dominican Republic. It guides teens on projects to do coral restoration projects and mangrove planting. These initiatives allow travelers to make a positive impact while spending time with local leaders.

Food – Locally-sourced food is much better for the environment. Travelers in 2025 will seek out local restaurants that use ingredients from nearby farms, easing any environmental impact. There also are more sustainable options in places like Hawaii, where you can pick your own produce and then make a meal at a local ranch.

#2: Local immersion will be expected.

In 2025 expect tour buses to be less popular. There’s a growing desire for travelers to see how local people really live in other countries. This is the basis of immersive travel.

Such immersion can be achieved through homestays and local service projects led by community leaders. Expect travelers to want programs like the Thai Elephant Conservation Project. It allows you to experience the day-to-day life of an elephant caretaker called a mahout.

Rustic Pathways students learn how to live like an elephant caretaker at a conservation center in Thailand.

Rustic Pathways students learn how to live like an elephant caretaker at a conservation center in Thailand. Credit: Rustic Pathways

In this type of travel, you’re not just looking at life through a bus window. You’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you can only get through meaningful travel.

#3: Coolcationing will remain hot.

This trend involves seeking out cooler climes for getaways. Some people say climate change is the reason. As temperatures get warmer, some people are opting for journeys away from hotter beaches or other settings.

But the popularity of warmer destinations likely is also playing a role in this. Some people would rather travel to Australia in July than places like Florida. When Southern Hemisphere temperatures are cooler, crowds are often smaller, making the journey more enjoyable.

#4: There’ll be an increase in travel to less-crowded, lesser-known locations.

Speaking of crowds, not surprisingly more people are looking at destinations that are  off-the-beaten path. Large cities like New York and London are not the best options for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. And authentic travel is easier in smaller communities.

A Rustic Pathways student spends time with local children in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

A Rustic Pathways student spends time with local children in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Credit: Rustic Pathways

American Express found that 72% of travelers want to support local communities. This is welcome news for the communities that the Rustic Pathways Foundation supports. These villages want to share their culture. And they need travelers to support their local economies.

#5: More travelers will go to nature-based destinations.

The pandemic re-introduced many people to the joys of nature. A few years later that enjoyment is growing. Taking a walk outside is a favorite pastime. And the increased focus on the environment is turning attention to untouched landscapes.

For teens, this is spurring a drive for outdoor adventure programs where they can surf, zipline, hike and see local animals.

#6: More people will look for stargazing opportunities.

Light pollution has made it impossible to view stars in many metropolitan centers. And that’s being noticed more as the night sky gets more attention. Interest in space tourism has grown. And more people are traveling to see phenomena ranging from eclipses to the Northern Lights. That’s increasing the desire to find places where the night sky is visibly full of stars. This will fuel travel to places with clear skies, ranging from mountainous Peru to the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

The views of the night sky are spectacular in Morocco.

The views of the night sky are spectacular in Morocco.
Credit: Rustic Pathways

#7: Insta-focused travel will decline.

The desire for the perfect Insta shot has created problems in some popular travel destinations. Reams of people jockey to get the best selfie in front of the Louvre, the Taj Mahal and other famous spots. These crowds of phone-focused people are triggering frustration.

On top of that, more people are recognizing that they’re missing out when they’re more focused on their digital life than their real one. They can be too digitally absorbed to enjoy their surroundings. Or they may only select sites that are Insta-famous.

This recognition is leading travelers to seek out Insta-free locations where you’re more likely to experience local culture. And it’s motivating people to focus less on creating a perfect Insta appearance.

Ins Outs
8 students mountain biking in Peru 50 people on a bus
Cutting edge experiential education Insta-focused travel
Life-changing personal experiences Cookie-cutter outcomes
Restoring the environment Creating a large environmental footprint
Hand-crafted travel experiences Predictable destinations
Deep investment in global staff Outsourced everything
Trekking across the Mongolian steppe Herd movement on buses
Sleeping in yurts Resorts
Respect, engage, grow Observe

#8: Food-focused travel will grow.

Foodies can delight because the desire to taste authentic cuisine is on the rise. Expect 2025 to be the year when more people will travel to find the perfect plate. This will help hot foodie destinations, including Italy and Thailand.

Rustic Pathways students learn how to make pasta while in Italy.

Rustic Pathways students learn how to make pasta while in Italy.

#9: The need for professional travel advice will return.

For a long time, the increase in online resources has lessened the need for travel agents. That’s changing as options grow, and it gets harder to tell the good from the bad. In fact, nearly half of travelers say they’re now more likely to use an advisor before hitting the road.

Travel experts have connections to local communities where you may want to visit. And they can better navigate the landscape in more popular destinations. This will help travelers in places where there’s not enough ground transportation or accommodations to meet demand.

This happened in Alaska and Hawaii post-pandemic when rental vehicles were all booked out. Rustic Pathways used its local connections to get vans with locally trained drivers.

Many parents also appreciate having professional staff take care of the travel planning for their teens. One parent said it best in her post-travel review:

“Our kids had the time of their lives and made some wonderful new friendships on their Costa Rica trip! Rustic Pathways took the planning and the worry out of the equation and the kids were able to focus on exploring this amazing country.” – Jennifer

#10: Solo travel will see a boom.

Group travel operators are seeing a large increase in people booking solo vacations. That trend should grow in 2025.

It’s also a common occurrence in student travel programs. The majority of Rustic Pathways students travel alone. But they quickly meet new friends during their journeys. Plus, they gain confidence, as they embrace the travel experience and discover how rewarding the journey is.

#11: Group travel will also grow.

It may seem like a contradiction, but group travel is also on the rise. And 2025 should see further growth in the area. When people aren’t traveling alone, they’re making more efforts to gather a group for their travels.

More high schools across the globe are planning travels for their students. And it’s becoming more common for extended families to travel together. Plus, various social and professional groups are looking at travel as a bonding experience.

Students from Marin Catholic pause for a photo during their Rustic Pathways trip to Vietnam.

Students from Marin Catholic pause for a photo during their Rustic Pathways group trip to Vietnam.

This is different from running to a relative’s house for a holiday. Group travel involves picking a destination and traveling together for learning and adventure.

#12: Young people will be more likely to travel.

Forbes found that 56% of young people in Gen Z plan to have more travels in their future. That puts them well above other generations. Gen Z is known for creating buzz about travel destinations and encouraging friends and family members to explore. That trend is expected to continue in 2025.

On top of that, travel is playing an important role for teens as they navigate a challenging world. It’s helping them make career decisions in an increasingly global world. Plus, travel also helps ease mental health challenges that have been more prominent in teens in recent years.

#13: People will take longer trips.

Travel surveys indicate people generally are taking longer trips these days. That’s giving travelers the chance to really immerse themselves in their destination. Maybe it’s because we’re all overdue for a lengthy vacation amid a hectic world. Regardless, it’s expected that this trend will continue in 2025.

#14: People will travel farther to do activities they can’t afford closer to home.

When inflation grew in 2023, many people realized some activities were more affordable farther away from home. Transportation costs may be slightly higher, but the decreased costs in other areas make up for it. Plus, the cultural experiences are worth the effort.

So instead of taking an expensive train to New York, someone may fly to Costa Rica. In that Central American country, everything from lodging to food and fun activities will cost less. In the end, you may spend less for an international trip.

#15: Travelers will be more engaged in travel lessons before and after their trip.

More people want their travel lessons to last longer than one or two weeks. This desire has become stronger amid the increased focus on environmental and social needs.

In 2025, you can expect more programs like the Climate Leaders Fellowship. It allows teens to digitally explore topics close to home and internationally. Then they can travel internationally to places like Guatemala and come back home to use the lessons they’ve learned.

#16: Some destinations will be hot in 2025.

A tourism increase is expected around the world. Several nations in particular will likely be pretty popular for travelers:

Japan: Several travel surveys have shown Japan to be a hot destination. It was voted the best country in the world in Conde Nast’s 2023 Readers Choice Awards. And that impression is expected to stay strong through 2025. Japan is recognized for its modern cultural influences, ranging from anime to Harajuku Fashion. The nation also has a strong cultural past, making it rich in both history and modern innovation. That combination, along with its reputation as a safe destination, has made it a must-see country for many travelers.

Rustic Pathways Japan

Fiji: Nearly 40% of Fiji’s economy normally relies on tourism. During the pandemic, the country took a heavy hit that was long-lasting. The nation opened its borders to international travelers on December 1, 2022. But by February 2024, the country still hadn’t matched its peak travel levels from 2019. The desire to attract more travelers has motivated country leaders to work harder to warmly welcome guests. That effort should really be paying off in 2025.

Costa Rica: This nation is known for its eco-friendly policies. The government’s focus on sustainability will be a boom in 2025 as travelers look for eco-friendly travel opportunities. Plus, the nation has long established itself as a safe destination for adventure seekers.

Rustic Pathways students go white water rafting in Costa Rica.

Rustic Pathways students go white water rafting in Costa Rica. Credit: Rustic Pathways

Thailand: This country is also known for its eco-travel opportunities. Plus, Bangkok is one of the hottest metropolitan travel destinations in the world. Overall, the number of travelers to Thailand increased by 20% in 2023 compared to 2022. And government officials are taking measures to keep that growth on an upward trajectory.

The United States: Amid turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere, more U.S. citizens are looking for travel opportunities in their own country. This has helped the tourism sectors in popular states like Hawaii and Alaska. These states are expected to fare well in 2025 since they offer so many things people are looking for now. This includes nature, adventure, and innumerable sites off the beaten trail.

Rustic Pathways’ other destinations also are good bets for 2025. All the countries are selected based on evaluations that show the best summer travel spots.

#17: The enthusiasm for travel will be at a record high.

Busy airports and other bumps in the road won’t stop people from being grateful for the chance to explore the globe. Historians often note the bright and optimistic times that come after periods of struggle. Taking trips in 2025 will give people the chance to get a dose of that joy, so it’s time to start packing.

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Lead Editor

Mary is the Lead Editor at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.