The first trip I went on – or at least the first trip I can vividly recall – took my family and I to West Palm Beach, Florida to visit my grandparents shortly after the Christmas holiday. It was the dawn of a New Year, and even though I was seven-years old at the time, I can still recount the details of that vacation with amazing clarity.
My youthful eyes had never gazed upon palm trees before nor had they observed a wild alligator lounging on the shores of a pond. They had never taken in the luxuries of a sun-soaked beach in the dead of winter or imagined that the ocean water could be so blue.
In more ways than one, that particular vacation inspired this boy from Buffalo to think bigger. It encouraged me to ask questions and seek answers to the very same. It opened my mind to new possibilities and began to guide my life toward the realization that the world is a fascinating place, one beckoning to be explored.
I am thirty-three years old now and have seen the lights of Paris. I’ve harvested grapes in Tuscany, walked the halls of the Roman Colosseum and thrown back shutters to watch the sun rise over the Swiss Alps. I’ve crashed a wedding in Florence, won $6,000 during a crazy 24 hours in Amsterdam and danced a few nights away in the Czech Republic. I’ve visited Munich, taken a train through Eastern Russia, traversed the canals of Venice and even party-hopped my way through the South of France. I’ve gone cliff diving in Negril, spent a few weeks lounging in the Bahamas and drank way too much tequila in Tijuana. Domestically speaking, I’ve happened upon 31 states, all of which I will refrain from mentioning now for brevity’s sake.
Here’s the point. Travel has the power to change people. One trip can open the doors of imagination and lead to a lifetime of adventure. One trip can shrink the world and inspire dreams. One trip can promote self-understanding and fuel passion through the continued acquisition of experiences. One trip…
It’s 2016, and I say we make it the Year of Travel. Let each of us resolve to use our smartphones a little less, explore our planet a little more and interact with our fellow man both earnestly and often. Let us open our lives to new experiences and embrace the time we have on this earth… together.
In that very same spirit of resolution and adventure, it gives me great pleasure to present Skyscanner’s Top U.S. Travel Trends List for 2016.
The data that follows is the direct result of comparing every destination-specific travel search made on Skyscanner.com over the past two years. In doing so, my team and I have been able to determine what cities are feigning in popularity for U.S. travelers in 2016 and what cities are on the rise.
New York City
This needs to be said up front. New York City is still, by far, the most popular domestic travel destination for U.S. citizens. And with so much to see and do, how could it not be?
The city itself is big, loud, unapologetic and always exciting. Home to just about every worldly pleasure one can imagine, if you’ve never visited the Big Apple, make it the top spot on your bucket list.
Keeping that in mind, Skyscanner’s transport search statistics prove that NYC is trending down in 2016. The percentage decrease is slight, but given the incredible number of travel searches made using New York City as the arrival destination, even a slight decrease warrants a mention on this list.
Popularity Dip: 1.13%
Las Vegas is a beast. There’s no place like it. From high-priced casinos to hot-spot nightclubs, Sin City has it all. And while statistics have Vegas trending down in 2016, that shouldn’t stop you and your friends from cutting loose on the strip or partying poolside during a quick weekend getaway. After all, numbers are just numbers. Be a trendsetter, and book your Vegas vacation today.
Popularity Dip: 2.93%
One of the world’s great cities, London is rich with culture, rooted in history and cemented in time. That being said, when my team and I compared Skyscanner’s transport search count statistics from 2014 to 2015, something interesting came to light.
London experienced the sharpest percentage decrease of any European city we measured, which means that its travel-trend arrow is pointing directly down for Americans in 2016.
Popularity Dip: 15.62%
American travelers once considered Italy to be the quintessential European vacation destination, but that’s no longer the case. Travel statistics show that the entire country is trending down in 2016 as we begin to witness a resurgence in domestic exploration.
Popularity Dip: 15.97%
From lush countryside settings to thriving cities, Japan rests at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists. In 2016, however, statistics show that Japan is trending down for Americans. The popularity dip we measured isn’t too drastic, but at 5.46%, it was enough for us to pause and take notice.
Popularity Dip: 5.46%
I was fortunate enough to live in Miami for six years, and I loved every minute of it. The area is in the midst of a modern renaissance, and the rest of the world is taking notice.
As people from all across the country continue to flood Miami’s shores, the city is constantly evolving into something better then it was just a moment before.
If you’re looking to party, relax and explore a bit during your 2016 vacation, Miami is the place to be.
Popularity Rise: 16.85%
Chicago is an incredible city, and in the past two years, more American travelers are starting to discover why.
The city’s list of can’t-miss destinations and must-do activities is far too long for this article, but I can’t leave you without something to work with, so here comes my two-sentence sales pitch. Are you ready? Flights to Chicago are always cheap, and everything about the city is amazing. Go experience something new in a place that promises just that every time you visit.
Popularity Rise: 22.69%
Disney World, rocket launches, pristine golf courses and gorgeous weather… need I say more?
Orlando is quickly becoming one of the most frequented travel destinations in America, and for those who’ve spent any time there, it’s easy to understand why.
The city houses something for everyone, which makes it the perfect getaway for you and your family.
Popularity Rise: 20.32%
The nation’s capital is a treasure trove of history, and more U.S. travelers are frequenting Washington with the hope of experiencing the many wonders the city has to offer.
Great for families and perfect for a quick weekend getaway, Washington is home to world-famous museums, cherished architecture and endless examples of American culture.
If you’re even mildly interested in immersing yourself in the heart of democracy, put Washington on your 2016 travel list.
Popularity Rise: 11.02%
The legalization of recreational marijuana has done wonders for the tourism industry in Denver; a fact supported by largest transport search increase of all U.S. cities measured by Skyscanner over the past two years.
Like it or not, people are flocking in droves to see what the Denver and its new pot culture are all about. Will you be next?
Popularity Rise: 23.29%
International Hot Spots in 2016
Gorgeous beaches and myriad of eco-friendly adventures help make the Dominican Republic one of the most popular non-domestic travel destinations for U.S. Citizens in 2016.
Nestled in the heart of the Caribbean, if you need a vacation that allows you to truly get away from it all, this is it.
Popularity Rise: 4.88%
The tourism industry is booming in Colombia thanks to a cultural resurgence of sorts.
The nation’s infrastructure continues to improve, and lavish amenities for international travelers are growing in numbers. Couple that with the country’s lush mountain settings, and people from all across the United States are growing evermore intrigued by Colombia as a top vacation spot. In fact, of all the non-domestic travel destinations Skyscanner studied over past two years, Colombia saw the largest percentage increase in travel searches made by U.S. citizens.
Popularity Rise: 34.22%
Mexico… what can we say? It’s gotten a bad travel reputation over the years as people have often viewed it as the place Americans go to party. And while that’s true to a certain degree, many are starting to discover that Mexico has a lot more to offer than tequila and imminent hangovers.
From lavish countryside settings to gorgeous beaches, Mexico is beginning to attract more American tourists every year, and 2016 will be no exception.
Popularity Rise: 6.67%
Take this With You
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your status in life is. If you want to travel the world, it’s up to you to make it happen. If money is tight, stop wasting it on material possessions and start spending it on experiences. If time is scarce, find more.
It’s 2016, and since we’ve already agreed to make it the Year of Travel, let’s put forth an honest effort to venture outside of our comfort zones and step away from the tiny screens that enslave us. Let us open our minds to the realization that the world is a beautiful place, and if we grant ourselves the freedom to truly experience it, amazing things can happen.
Thank you so much for taking the time, and safe travels.