The most buzz-worthy destinations are as far away as Rangoon and as close to home as Queens, N.Y.
In fact, Lonely Planet named Queens, the largest borough of New York City, the No. 1 destination on its annual list of the "best" U.S. travel destinations for 2015. For its global Best in Travel list, Singapore was the top country to visit, Washington, D.C. was the top city and Tunisia was the best value destination.
Travel booking site Priceline.com, which studied advance hotel reservations to come up with its list of "top travel hot spots," named Orlando the top U.S. destination and Cancun/Cozumel in Mexico the top international destination.
Participating members of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, in a survey conducted by PwC, named Myanmar, for the third year in a row, the top "emerging destination." That was followed by Cuba, which President Obama normalized relations with recently after a 50-plus-year cold war.
And USA TODAY Travel has its own picks for worthwhile destinations. Brazil made it through the World Cup, despite having a shortage of hotels. Hotels are being built in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Questions loom about whether or not the infrastructure will be ready, but Rio and other Brazilian cities will continue to be in the spotlight this year.
Despite a stagnant economy, Puerto Rico is still an easy and exotic destination. Americans don't need passports to enter, can use U.S. dollars, and have plenty of beaches and historic sites to explore. New luxury hotels are opening, including the newly renovated Condado Vanderbilt.
Colombia has only recently become a viable destination for leisure travelers. For years, the South American country battled a violent drug trade and guerrilla war. Parts of the country are still experiencing turmoil, but the romantic, Caribbean city of Cartagena, once home to Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is nothing less than enchanting. The capital city of Bogota is a nightlife and culinary mecca. And Medellin is appropriately nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring.
Istanbul continues to entice travelers, and a number of recent and upcoming hotel openings are propelling it into trendy territory. Soho House plans to debut in the city early this year. Morgans Hotel Group also plans to open a Mondrian.
Here are other trends that travelers will notice on the road this year.
New hotel brands debut
Travelers, especially younger ones, will have new hotel chains to check into and check out.
The major hotel companies, in an effort to attract the next generation of travelers, are creating more technology-centric, hipper hotel brands.
Marriott International recently opened its first AC Hotel for Millennial travelers, those twenty- and thirty-somethings who are starting to travel more, in New Orleans. Best Western will introduce Vib. Hilton will debut Canopy.
Consider Canopy the model for hotel of the future. Gone is the traditional check-in and check-out. Instead, you will be able to use your mobile device, a growing trend in the hotel industry.
Also gone is traditional room service. Enter Rise and Dine. If you just want to have an apple, coffee, and yogurt ready for you when you wake up, someone will hang it on your doorknob at your requested time.
Closets won't have doors because most people don't unpack and use traditional closets anymore.
And lobbies will be social areas, where you can stop by for a free happy hour each night with local drinks and treats.
"Even if you are there for a day and a half, you can feel the neighborhood," says John Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton.
A number of airlines, including United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, are moving towardrevenue-based systems for earning miles.
Starting in March, United customers will earn miles using a formula that takes into consideration what they paid for their fare -- not how far they flew -- plus their frequent-flier status.
Delta just instituted a similar policy. Low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways already have a revenue-based system.
Only one other legacy carrier is holding out. Will American Airlines join the pack?
George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, doesn't think it will happen in 2015. But he thinks once American combines fully with US Airways, the merged airline will adopt the model "in order to better compete and to reward big spenders."
"Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all 25,000 miles to obtain a domestic round-trip reward seat," he says. "You pay more for the more desirable flights, and you earn more the more you spend."
And how will airfares fare in general in 2015? Rick Seaney, co-founder of FareCompare.com, says the good news is that prices will likely not rise significantly over 2014.
The bad news? "Domestic airfare prices of 2014 are the highest I've seen in 10 years," he says.
Wellness on the road
Americans are becoming more conscious of their mental and physical well-being when they're traveling. A number of hotels and other travel companies are stepping up their efforts to help them feel healthier.
In 2014, InterContinental Hotels Group debuted its new EVEN hotel brand, specifically targeting health-conscious travelers with prominently-placed fitness centers, healthful menus, exercise equipment in rooms, water stations, and encouraging messages scrawled on walls. Other EVEN hotels are on the horizon.
The Refinery Hotel in New York recently launched a Wellth Series in partnership with Wellthily, Co., a company that promotes wellness among travelers. They include fireside chats with fitness experts, spinning and yoga classes, and other activities--for a fee. On Jan. 15, guests and neighbors will be able to attend a guided meditation with best-selling author Deepak Chopra.
Bob Diener, travel expert and co-founder of Getaroom.com, says such efforts nurture a desire among travelers to stay healthy and continue to enjoy their hobbies on the road.
"Consumers are increasingly looking to blend their interests and activities with their travels, and vacations that focus on the environment, sports, or spa/yoga/health will see big growth in 2015," he says.
• Miami Beach will celebrate its 100th birthday on March 26. Expect drinks, dancing, and dining Miami-style. The city is promising an epic concert for its centennial celebration. miamibeach100.com
• Aug. 29 marks 10 years since New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Since then, several neighborhoods outside of the French Quarter, including the Bywater District and Freret Street in Uptown New Orleans, have had a boom in new restaurants, bars and music venues. neworleansonline.com and neworleanscvb.com
• The American Civil War ended 150 years ago. General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 (surrenders of smaller Confederate armies continued until June 23, 1865). Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865. A number of activities will commemorate the Sesquicentennial at Civil War battlefields and historic sites across the country. civilwar.org/150th-anniversary
A travel vacation should not only be an unforgettable experience, but offer solid peace of mind. That’s why USTOA created a consumer protection fund which protects consumers who book with our Active Members.Learn More