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Trending travel: Wanderlust-ing destinations of 2015

Published December 26th, 2015

The desire to travel, or wanderlust, has long been the mantra of travellers who are keen to tick off as many bucket list destinations as possible.

Student Flights has examined travel data from the past 12 months to truly determine where wanderlust took travellers in 2015.

Student Flights’ Sean Martin said the data doesn’t lie and 2015 saw bookings to some destinations increase by as much as 800 per cent.

“Trending travel destinations for the year include some relatively new cities in our old favourite countries, destinations centred on major events and the see it before it’s ruined travel mantra,” Mr Martin said.

“Take a tip from last year’s travellers and get a head start on where to go in 2016 to have you out YOLO-ing and instilling some serious FOMO in your mates.”

1. CANCUN, MEXICO

Yucatan paradise with perfect weather year-round

With a perfect balance of party and relaxation it’s no wonder Cancun and its year-round tropical climate is the premiere coastal destination in all of Mexico and the number one trending destination for travellers in 2015. Student Flights has seen a year on year booking increase to the Yucatan city of 46%.With 14 miles of pristine white beaches, crystalline waters and sultry nights sipping on the perfect margarita we too find ourselves dreaming of Cancun during our afternoon siestas.

2. JAPAN

Cutting edge technology blends with rich tradition and culture

Japan has been a favourite destination for travellers over recent years thanks to the neon skyscrapers and pop culture blending in harmony with Shinto shrines and cherry blossoms as well as the surprising affordability and high number of budget accommodation options. Japan’s winter climate and world-class snow facilities makes for some of the best snow in the world right at our fingertips. And thanks to a relatively short flight from Australia and similar time zone, there’s no jetlag.

It’s no wonder that 2015 saw a spike in travel of more than 27% to Japan, with Tokyo and Osaka both high on travellers agendas. Student Flights also noticed an increase in bookings to little known Kochi-shi on the southern coast of Shikok; home to one of just 12 Japanese castles to have survived the fires, wars and other catastrophes of the post-feudal age, Kochi Castle. If Japan had a road less travelled our bets are on Kochi-shi.

3. CROATIA

Explore island-speckled coastline by day and party till the sun comes up at night

In Croatia summer days are spent lounging on a sail boat paired perfectly with a night full of partying. Thanks to Ultra Europe bringing one of the biggest EDM and house music festivals to Croatia’s Adriatic coast, travellers can do just that with Ultra festival and sail packages proving popular in 2015.  Student Flights bookings to Croatia are up 22% compared to the previous year.

With a perfect balance of tradition and modernity, the always buzzing city of Split is a must visit spot as is Dubrovnik with its marbled streets and city walls and the added bonus of being one of the main filming locations in Game of Thrones. Lesser known but certainly not lesser happening Pula has also proved popular due to its well-preserved Roman amphitheatre in the heart of the city doubling as a venue for summer concerts and festivals. We suggest you secure your place for 2016 or risk a serious case of FOMO.

4. SPAIN

Life in Spain is a fiesta and everyone’s invited

What’s not to love about Spain? The country is renowned for mouth-watering food and wine, fantastic weather, amazing history and culture, mind-blowing architecture and some of the most diverse landscape in all of Europe. Spain is a destination that has endured for thousands of years and travellers can’t get enough with 2015 bookings up by 7%.

Hotspots include Madrid, Spain’s central capital with elegant boulevards and expansive manicured parks; the major European art centre of Bilbao with its Museo Guggenheim and gateway to San Sebastian’s culinary delights; Granada’s allure has always been hard to ignore thanks to the grand, sprawling hilltop fortress complex of the Alhambra and its striking location at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains; and the home of Flamenco and 18th century Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza bullring, Seville.

5. AMSTERDAM

One of the greatest small cities in the world

There is more to Amsterdam than the Red Light District, Heineken Beer factory and coffee shops and travellers are catching on with bookings for the small city of Amsterdam increasing by 26% in 2015. Amsterdam has all the advantages of a big city including rich culture, lively nightlife and great food but without the heavy traffic and hustle and bustle. Its artistic heritage and elaborate canal system make it a great destination to unwind at the end of a big tour or a great place to find your feet at the beginning of your European adventure. Student Flights’ top tip is to rent a bike as cycling is the essence of the city’s character and there are more than 400km of cycle paths.

6. IRELAND

The new London

A small country with a big reputation, Ireland has struggled to recover since the GFC but things are looking up. Bookings for Ireland have increased over the past 12 months with Dublin bookings up by 6%. Dublin has changed so much in the past 20 years, now commonly referred to as the new London due to its mixture of energetic cosmopolitan chic, rich cultural heritage and a large helping of the famous Irish craic. The city is renowned for its late night eating and drinking but what many don’t know is that it’s also within easy reach of the coast and mountains where breathtaking scenery offers the perfect backdrop for hiking or biking.

7. CAMBODIA

Where smiling is infectious

Cambodia is perhaps one of the most authentic adventures any traveller can have, regardless of how developed it becomes; no visitor finds that they can leave without affection for its people whose smiles are infectious. Always a popular destination, travel for 2015 is up by 25%.

Siem Reap continues to grow in popularity, renowned as the gateway to the ruins of Angkor and quickly becoming the epicentre of chic Cambodia; travellers who bother to explore the nearby Siem Reap Province will find an insight into the real Cambodia and its rural beauty with floating villages, rare-bird sanctuaries and rice paddies. Also on the rise is Sihanoukville. This beach and island resort destination, with a surrounding coastline of white-sand beaches, is a mecca for backpackers who soak up the sun by day and party through the night.

8. HONOLULU

Honolulu has it all

It’s never been easier to pack a bag, board a flight and be lazing on the sands of Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach nine hours later thanks to an increased capacity of affordable flights from Australia. It’s no wonder that travellers have jumped on board the opportunity to visit Hawaii’s capital with bookings increasing by more than 12% in 2015. Honolulu is home to everything from historic landmarks, treasured monuments, world-class shopping, famous beaches and Jurassic Park jungles. Student Flights suggests that no Honolulu trip is complete with a visit to Pearl Harbour and the sobering USS Arizona Memorial.

9. LAS VEGAS

Sin City is the ultimate escape

It’s the only place in the world where you can wake up in Paris and sip champagne under the Eiffel Tower, ride a gondola to lunch, cruise past the Statue of Liberty on your way to partying in ancient Rome and fall asleep in a grand pyramid; but that’s Vegas baby!

Travellers love The Entertainment Capital of the World with Student Flights bookings for Las Vegas increasing by 10% in 2015. New offerings in 2015 included the much-hyped High Roller’s revolving observation wheel and the opening of Caesars Palace’s new Caesars Nightclub, the largest nightclub in Vegas, and the ultimate flashback experience of Britney Spears on stage. This buzzing town located in the middle of Nevada’s Mojave Desert is filled to the brim with 24-hour casinos, infinite entertainment options and never-ending buffets; what’s not to love?

10. MUNICH

A town that likes to party

With a 16-day festival dedicated to drinking beer every year, it’s no wonder that Australians are wanderlust-ing after Munich with bookings up 11% in 2015. The capital of Bavaria, Munich is home to centuries-old buildings and some dark history but is best known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and the famed Hofbräuhaus beer hall, founded in 1589.

Enticing more visitors than ever, tourist numbers peak during the summer months and Oktoberfest with the festival so popular amongst Australians the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade sends a special consular team to Munich to aid Aussie revellers. Besides the 17-days of beer drinking, Munich has much to offer travellers all year round including the Englischer Garten, The Residenz, Christmas Markets and Neuschwanstein Castle which is a short trip from the city.

Laura Carlin

Give me big cities and culture over nature and wide open spaces any day, with the exception of a white sandy beach of course. Consider me a traveller with champagne tastes on a beer budget; I'd love my time overseas to be more glamorous than it often is. When in a new city you'll find me exploring the back streets to discover hidden gems by day and chatting with the locals with a drink in hand by night.