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The world of travel is always changing, which means there’s always going to be a ton of great travel innovations to look forward to on your next trip. But among all the cool new conveniences, there’s always one groan-worthy development that makes you want to hide in your hotel room (remember basic economy, guys?). Here are some of the burgeoning travel trends we most look forward to in 2018, in no particular order, plus one we really don’t love. At all.

RELATED: 18 great places to travel in 2018

1. Ubers that aren’t cars
A year of bad press hasn’t deterred the ride share behemoth in its quest for global domination. What’s next after conquering land, you might ask. Sea and sky? Exactly. Last summer the company unveiled UberBOAT in places like Egypt and Croatia and we tried it out. The company has also tinkered with Uber Chopper, a helicopter service that has made intermittent appearances in places like Vegas, Dubai and Amsterdam. We expect to see more changes in 2018 and beyond—but we draw the line at Uber PogoStick.

2. Connecting with locals
It’s no secret that the so-called sharing economy has brought travelers closer to locals via their cars and the spare bedrooms and couches in their homes. Expect more like this to come. Witness Global Greeter, a service that puts travelers in touch with locals for free guided tours of their city; EatWith, a program that allows travelers to dine with local chefs in more than 200 cities—often in their homes; and WithLocals, an org that matches tourists with local hosts for insider activities and food experiences. The trend to dive deeper is here to stay—sorry (not sorry) tourist traps and tacky T-shirt shops.

3. More alternative accommodations
Besides the hundreds of thousands of unique private homes you can now book through sites like HomeAway, major online travel brands—Orbitz included—have upped the ante on one-of-a-kind spots that make your accommodations just as central to your vacation as your carefully curated list of sights and experiences. Just imagine spending a few nights on a sleek yacht in Miami or inside a crane hotel hovering high above Amsterdam. Or maybe you prefer a treehouse hotel in Sri Lanka or a luxurious yurt in Morocco. Whatever your style, or whatever you can dream up, there’s now an accommodation out there to perfectly suit you.

4. Accomplishment-based travel
We like to think of travel as an accomplishment in and of itself, but there’s a growing trend of young travelers setting out to achieve things on their trips. Springing from the experiential travel craze that’s been building for a while now, this trend has an increasing number of globetrotters setting out to take on big challenges like climbing Kilimanjaro, learning to cook authentic Italian cuisine in Rome, visiting every National Park, surfing the seven seas, the list goes on. We salute all these folks, but we also think it’s still perfectly OK to park it on a beach for the week—hey, either way, we salute you!

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5. The rise of the budget chic accommodation
A bunk bed just steps from a buzzy pool scene? Shared accommodations above the best eateries in town? These aren’t your older brother’s youth hostels. In fact, they’re not hostels at all. Meet the newest trend in lodging: hip, budget hotels often featuring single and shared room types, Insta-worthy common areas and design-friendly guestrooms. Hotel collections like Freehand, Moxy and the Graduate are leading the charge in cheap chic travel and proving that you don’t have to be a one percenter to be a total baller.

Flickr CC: Alec Wilson

6. New budget airlines making Europe cheaper than ever
2017 saw a slew of new budget airlines pop up, offering dirt cheap fares from the US to Europe. Perhaps the most celebrated of the new crew was Iceland’s WOW Air, which has offered flights as low as $99 from Boston to London. But they weren’t the only ones: Carriers such as Eurowings, Level and Norwegian Air also managed to, er, wow us with their low cross-Atlantic fares. Sure, you might have to forego meals, limit your luggage, leave your seat selection to chance and make a stopover along the way, but as for the latter, would a day to kill in intriguing Reykjavik be such a bad thing?

Photo courtesy of the Freehand LA

7. Hotels are now local hangouts
Ever notice how some hotel lobbies are suddenly buzzing all day long? You might be asking, Are tourists really spending all day hanging out at their hotel? Hardly. The shift has been that hotels have started capturing a new segment of the tourism market—locals. By offering communal tables, free Wi-Fi, plenty of outlets, board games and on-site bars and cafes, places like the Ace Hotel New York, the Robey Chicago and the Freehand Los Angeles are packed night and day with familiar faces—your neighbors.

8. Crazy new cruise technology
Cruise lines are really upping their game this year when it comes to futuristic technology. While some developments are designed to make cruising safer and more convenient (selfies that let you skip check-in lines and driverless shuttles), there are also plenty of very fun new whiz-bang capabilities that will leave you in awe. Companies like Royal Caribbean, for example, are introducing a facial-recognition-enabled drink delivery system that lets servers find you in a crowd, plus offering virtual dining and even X-ray vision that lets you “see” through (some!) walls to get behind-the-scenes peeks at interesting places like the galley, engine room or bridge.

9. The rise of the robots!
Robot housekeeping, robot room service, robot concierge…. The list goes on. Don’t get us wrong—we’re all for innovation and who isn’t charmed by the novelty of an automaton shaking your daiquiri behind the bar on your next cruise (yes, that’s a thing, too). But sometimes when we’re traveling, especially solo, we just want to chat with some real people, crack a joke or get a local recommendation. From an actual human. The best of that often happens when you take a minute to get to know the folks behind the bar or checking you in at your hotel or even at the airport. When it comes to real people, we’ll take the good with the bad, even if that includes the occasionally snippy service person or human-error-driven snafu. It’s all part of travel’s rich pageant!

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Tagged: Cruise, Feature, Top 10 Lists

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jason Heidemann & Martina Sheehan

Jason Heidemann & Martina Sheehan

Jason and Martina are the editors of the Orbitz Travel Blog.
Jason Heidemann & Martina Sheehan

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