No offense 2014, but we're ready for a new year. January 1 brings the promise of 365 new days to plan trips and see the world. And 2015 is shaping up to be rather interesting for travelers. From wellness retreats to ultra-affordable luxury, here are the burgeoning travel trends we're most excited about.

In the Spotlight: New Hotel Technology

Hotel technology is getting cooler every day. With innovations like mobile check-in and checkout, keycard-less entry, and in-room iPads for room service, hotels are finding new ways to reduce hassles. Hilton is the latest major brand to announce keyless rooms in 2015. With all this embracing of technology, is it only a matter of time before universal free Wi-Fi is a hotel standard? We sure hope so.

In the Spotlight: Wellness Travel

Maybe it's just the onset of winter, but, as one colleague put it, "A vacation that is centered on health, rejuvenation, and rebalancing and re-centering myself from the stress and busyness of everyday life sounds pretty fabulous right now." If you're looking to find the best version of yourself on vacation in 2015, you're in luck. As the demand for wellness travel has increased, the options have grown to include everything from yoga retreats to weight-loss resorts. Check out some of our favorites in our recent story Wellness Travel 101: Vacation Your Way to a Better You.

In the Spotlight: Poshtels

Better accommodations options at more reasonable prices: It may sound like a pipe dream, but the "poshtel" trend, which merges hostels and hotels, gives guests a bit of glam and comfort even on a budget. Four-poster beds, chandeliers, and even bridal suites can be found at hostels that are making the jump from gritty backpacker magnet to budget-conscious luxury. And while the U.K. is leading the charge on the trend, you can find upscale hostels in other countries as well. We're definitely looking forward to this trend continuing its global march.

Fingers Crossed: Loosened TSA Screening Restrictions

Dare to dream. That's what we're doing, even with the possibility looming that some holiday flights will see more, not fewer, security restrictions. In a recent interview with USA Today, outgoing TSA chief John Pistole said he thought it was time to loosen some of the liquid and gel restrictions for trusted flyers who have gone through background checks as part of the PreCheck membership process. While that wouldn't mean a whole lot for most occasional flyers, it would be a move in the right direction. And it would certainly offer a compelling reason to consider PreCheck (or another pre-screening program such as Global Entry, which includes PreCheck benefits).

In the Spotlight: Living Like a Local

Renting an apartment in the middle of a city. Sharing a meal with a local. Even locally sourced in-room snacks at hotels. In 2015, we're excited about finding fresh and affordable ways to immerse ourselves in the destinations we visit. Finding ways to dig into local life—whether by hanging out in an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood in Tokyo with a free local guide or helping farmers bring in the harvest in Hawaii—is a trend we think is here to stay. And we couldn't be happier about it.

Fingers Crossed: Innovative Reclining Solutions

At least twice a month we find ourselves engaged in a heated debate over reclining on planes. We're a divided lot at SmarterTravel on this hot-button issue. Some of us think the recline button is there for a reason; others can't stand the practice of impinging upon someone's already-limited personal space. We can all agree, though, that airlines should offer a reclined angle for the back without giving the person in the row behind a bloody nose. Which is why we're glad to see some dreamers with business sense imagining a new version of economy class, one where passengers recline without strife and disembark happier. We like this version of the friendly skies; we just hope the airlines agree.

Dream Destinations 2015

Which destinations are occupying our daydreams right now? Here are some of the spots we're hoping to explore in 2015:

  • South Africa: "From the vibrant city of Cape Town to the epic wildlife safaris, it has so much to offer."
  • Patagonia: "I want to see what it's like to hike to the end of the world."
  • Iceland: "Yes, 2014 was the year of Iceland. But I'm one of the few who didn't make it there, and I'm dying to photograph the country's awe-inspiring natural beauty."
  • Bahamas: "I really want to explore some not-so-easy-to-find islands, especially the Bahamas Out Islands."
  • Banff National Park, Canada: "Remote Canada doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Plus, Banff has been seeing big increases in visitor numbers, and it would be awesome to get there before the destination ends up firmly on the beaten path."
  • Cuba: "I want to witness firsthand the 'land where time stood still,' the contagious music, and the camaraderie of its generous people."
  • Latvia: "In 2014, it made its debut as a capital of culture. Now it's ready for the world (and me)."
  • Cambodia: "After years of hearing incredible things about this small country, I'm ready to see it for myself."

What's on your list for 2015?

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Seven Trends That Will Shape How You Travel in 2015. Follow Christine Sarkis on Google+ or email her at

(Lead Photo: Chris Agnoustiotis/Getty Images)

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