18 for 18: Travelzoo's tips for the year ahead
The Travelzoo deal experts have given their recommendations, insights and tips to inspire your holidays and get you off the sofa over the next 12 months.
Gradually opening up to travellers during the last 10 years, Montenegro is tipped to hit the mainstream in 2018, as Brits see for themselves what the poet Byron called, “the most beautiful merging of land and sea” on the planet. Get there to enjoy its “just discovered” feel before word spreads further (and prices rise accordingly), especially the bustling town of Tivat on the picturesque Bay of Kotor.
A 4-hour flight from the UK, the Land of the Kings is a year-round favourite of Brits seeking Mediterranean sun. What will make it special in 2018? Capacity and value. With other destinations across the Med beginning to reach bursting point, limited supply is pushing up prices, but flights, hotels and packages are highly competitive. And Cyprus’s dazzling beaches, shimmering seas, rugged interior, legends-laden history and delicious cuisine are all ripe for rediscovery.
Despite being a regular backdrop for favourite films, TV shows and music videos, Malta’s historic and rugged beauty remains relatively unknown to Brits. However, its capital Valletta has been designated as a 2018 European Capital of Culture (with Leeuwarden in Holland), so that's set to change. New flights from Belfast, Aberdeen, Southend and Stansted will give more Brits than ever the chance to enjoy the 12-month long celebration of art, performance, history and Maltese culture.
4. Launch of the world's longest non-stop commercial flight
Flying Down Under used to take a minimum of four days, and involve multiple fuel stops. Come March 2018, however, the same journey will take just 17 hours, thanks to Qantas’s new direct from London to Perth (pictured below) – the longest non-stop commercial flight ever. The fact you’ll be crossing 10 time zones aboard one of Qantas’s brand-new 787 Dreamliners – where the recycled in-cabin air, mood lighting and ergonomically designed seating are all designed to improve the passenger experience – should make it even easier.
The Caribbean’s woes due to the weather in 2017 have been well documented, and tourism authorities from across the region have been crying out for visitors to return ever since hurricane season ended. This beautiful area, famous for its colourful islands, culture and cuisine, has long been a favourite of Brits who love the great weather and excellent value. Our experts could have chosen any of the islands, but Barbados makes the Eighteen for 18 by virtue of its regular (and increasing) daily flights from across the UK, and numerous hotel openings next year – ranging from the family-friendly all-inclusive The Sands resort in Bridgetown to the exclusive Nikki Beach Barbados opening in Port Ferdinand.
6. The Winter Olympics/Commonwealth Games/World Cup
2018 is set to be a bumper year for sports fans, even more so for those who like to combine a bit of travel with their spectating. Kicking off with the XXIII Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea (sure to set off a frenzy for skiing holidays closer to home), and followed by the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast and Russia’s first FIFA World Cup, athletic prowess will be on display against a backdrop of some of the planet’s most intriguing destinations. What better excuse is there to go and visit them?
7. New York
You might think there’s nothing left to say about the Big Apple. And that the strengthened dollar has dulled its shine. Our experts respectfully disagree and point to increased flight capacity to the city from low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air and WOW Air as reason alone to consider it in 2018. Nearly 50 hotel openings are slated for the year ahead across the city, meaning visitor accommodation options will be even wider than ever, and across the Five Boroughs – from Coney Island’s expansion to the new MoMA Tower and Hudson Yards development – there will be a plethora of new attractions and enclaves to enjoy. New York never sleeps, and it never gets tired.
Already on the radar of those seeking a more authentic Middle Eastern experience than some of its flashier neighbours, Oman is growing in popularity among even first-time visitors to the region. Our experts rate Oman’s range of hotel choices, from world-class resorts to tented desert camps, its traditional architecture (the Omani government enforces a no-skyscraper policy), natural wonders – especially the Wadi – and the preservation of local traditions in its art, cuisine and entertainment.
9. Symphony of the Seas launch
Royal Caribbean’s flagship vessel will bring some mind-boggling numbers when she takes to the seas in 2018. Weighing in at 230,000 tonnes, and accommodating 5,500 passengers in 2774 cabins across 16 decks, her seven "neighbourhoods" will have something for everyone – especially if that something is a 10-storey waterslide. She’ll spend her first summer sailing around the Med, before transferring to her home port, a new state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Miami.
Why Ibiza in 2018? The Travelzoo experts reckon former ravers are now helping to change the vibe of the White Isle and reinventing it for families. It’s served by a number of budget and scheduled airlines daily, and benefits from a wide range of hotels – perfect for former party people to return to with their kids.
Vietnam has properly emerged from the shadow of its neighbour Thailand. With investment in tourism infrastructure increasing, major hotel brands establishing more of a foothold and flight options expanding, it is the perfect time to see Vietnam’s beautiful landscapes, experience its rich history and mix with its friendly people. Food, drink and accommodation options are all great value.
12. Virgin Galactic takes to the air... hopefully
Sir Richard Branson’s sub-orbital flier will begin carrying fare-paying passengers to the edge of space next year – assuming final testing is completed successfully. With tickets running to six figures per person, it will take some saving to become one of Virgin’s "astronauts", but with a stunning new spaceport open for business in Mexico, it looks as if the eccentric billionaire’s dream of putting the stars within everyone’s reach is set to become a reality.
Return flights to the Portuguese capital start as low as £38 per person from across the UK, and have made it an increasingly popular (and much better value) alternative to busier city-break destinations in neighbouring Spain. A period of economic austerity has triggered an explosion of creative entrepreneurialism in the city, driving a wave of funky eateries, boutique shopping and pop-up arty enclaves – earning it a reputation as "the new Berlin". If history is more your thing, then the Moorish-influenced architecture is sure to please, and there are dozens of squares and alleyways to explore.
14. Best time to book for peak travel
There are whole websites dedicated to revealing the secret for when you can bag yourself a braggable bargain on a flight or holiday. But the fact is, there is no magic formula – only broad guidelines to get the most from a search. Our experts’ tips for 2018 remain: fix your budget; aim to book early (flight prices are generally at their lowest 50-60 days before departure); be flexible on location if you can; sign up to social media and email alerts for flash sales (especially ours!); and try to fly in low-demand periods of the year and during the day (mid-week, late at night, ideally).
There are many reasons to opt for a stay-at-home holiday next year, but our experts think that Yorkshire is the county to pay attention to. Forget the tired images of flat caps and whippets, Yorkshire is a proudly vibrant and diverse county that has benefited from millions in inward investment and regeneration in recent years. Whether it’s arts and culture (Yorkshire was named the top county for literary-themed breaks by VisitEngland last year), the great outdoors, sports and recreation or a city break (Leeds was the only UK city included in Lonely Planet’s 2017 global list of hot spots), or a chance to enjoy the second-cheapest pint of beer in the country, the White Rose county is a winner.
16. Major hotel openings
Travellers can expect another year of being spoilt for choice when it comes to new hotels to experience, as hotel groups, designers, fashion houses, clothing and automotive brands, football clubs and a host of other organisations compete to make the biggest statement. If construction schedules are met, however, they’ll all be dwarfed by the Abraj Kudai (below), currently being built in Mecca by the Saudi royal family. With over 10,000 rooms, 12 towers, 70 dining options and a US$3.5 billion price tag, it is set to be the world’s largest and most extravagant hotel.
17. Holidays inspired by the small & silver screens
2017 was another bumper year for travelling to the locations we enjoy in our favourite TV programmes and movies – with “Game of Thrones”, “The Last Jedi” and others doing for Iceland, Northern Ireland and Croatia what “The Lord of the Rings” did for New Zealand a few years ago. In 2018, we can expect the all-female cast of “Ocean’s 8” to throw the spotlight on New York, the Star Wars spin off, “Solo”, to give Fuerteventura, Italy and… er… Southampton, among others, a boost, and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” to show off Hawaii (below) in all its wild glory.
18. Twenty years of Travelzoo!
Finally, your favourite source of trusted deals on travel experiences and holidays turns 20 next year, so keep an eye on our website, social media pages and emails for news about special activities we’ll be sharing to celebrate this special anniversary. We couldn’t have reached it without your support, so thank you!