Top 11 travel trends for 2023
Multi-country trips, musical pilgrimages and sustainable travel are predicted to grow in popularity, reveals leading youth travel brand Contiki.
TRAVEL bounces back this year. | Photographs courtesy of Contiki
The year 2023 could well be considered as the year travel goes “back to normal.” With countries relaxing their Covid-19 restrictions and, even in the face of a global cost-of-living crisis, young people are continuing to prioritize travel.
After extensive research, the world’s leading social travel brand Contiki can announce the top 11 global travel trends to expect from the year ahead.
Bucket list travel
With airlines returning to normal service and countries relaxing their travel restrictions, 2023 is tipped to be the year that travelers finally embark on the trips they’ve spent the last three years dreaming about.
“The prevailing sense is that travel has been, and could again be, taken away from us,” says Natasha Lawrence, Contiki’s Commercial and Product Development director. “2023 is the opportunity to make it count.”
Travelers everywhere are becoming increasingly aware of the need to travel responsibly. Young people are loyal to brands that share their values, and that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.
Also linked to sustainability is the rise in plant-based living. Rebecca Gade Sawicki, creator of Veggies Abroad, says, “at least 15 percent of greenhouse gases are attributed to animal agriculture. Consumers are concerned about what’s on their plate and its impact on the planet.”
Young people are traveling more than others
During the past year, 18 to 34-year-olds averaged 2.2 more international trips and 1.3 more domestic trips than those aged 65 and over.
Adam Armstrong, Contiki’s CEO says, “Young people were arguably the quickest to recover. We expect this trend to continue into 2023, albeit the older demo will play a strong catchup game.”
Long trips are in Pre-pandemic, long trips were declining in popularity. In 2023, they’re soaring. This isn’t altogether surprising, given the global cost-of-living crisis and the increase in flight prices.
“Our average length of trip has increased,” says Lawrence. “Pre-pandemic it was around 10 days. Right now, for next year, it’s two weeks.”
“I think the rising cost of flights and air plays into this… if you are going to take a long-haul flight, you want to spend more time in the destination at the other end,” she adds.
Multi-country trips are making a comeback
Multi-country trips, where travelers often visit eight to nine countries in two weeks, have also increased in popularity.
“During the pandemic, people were more cautious about crossing borders…” says Armstrong. “Now that it’s easy to cross borders, multi-country trips are rock-and-rolling again.”
Social travel is becoming more popular
It’s safe to say that two to three years of missing out on birthday parties, festivals and other social gatherings has affected young people more than their others. A 10 percent increase in multiple bookings (as opposed to solo bookings) highlights an elevated hunger for human connection among young people.
Another example of this is a surge in bookings for six-bed hostel dorms. Lawrence says, “For 2023, this travel style looks to be back as people want to spend their time in social and community driven spaces.”
Travel inspired by music and TV
According to Expedia, two-thirds of global travelers have considered visiting a destination inspired by a movie or TV show they’ve watched. Grassroots music scenes have also become a huge draw for young travelers, offering up the chance to discover new artists before they break.
Neither trend is surprising given that TVs and headphones were most people’s only escape during the pandemic. The “musical pilgrimage” trend has had positive consequences for destinations such as Israel which, according to TikTok superstar Brooke Alexx, has one of the “most underrated music scenes in the world.”
Given the rise of sustainability and a hunger for human connection among young travelers, it’s hardly surprising that culturally immersive local experiences have also continued to rise in popularity.
In a survey conducted by Hilton, 49 percent of respondents said they were looking to undertake such experiences while travelling in 2023.
Lawrence says, “Maybe it’s just my social feed, but I am seeing a lot of positive things regarding inclusivity and connection with other cultures. This could be the fuel for some magical travel experiences.”
As with other luxuries, travel has become more expensive recently. The good news is that more people tend to view travel as crucial for their welfare, so they’ll continue to explore the world but they’ll be more careful with their spending and will want to make sure they get the best deal.
We can expect to see travelers planning their trips in advance, and subsequently a reduction in spontaneous bookings.
Budget accommodations are also set to become more popular. As Lauren Gonzales, principal at L&L Hospitalities, says, “We saw this a lot during the recession following 2008. A lot of travelers who might have otherwise considered more expensive hotel options expanded their searches to different types of accommodations.”
Travel affected by remote working
Five days a week in the office seems like a relic of a past life to many travelers, and the remote working trend looks set to continue into 2023 and beyond. The added flexibility is great for travelers, but also for the tourism industry.
As Rax Seun, founder of NomadsUnveiled, states, “the combination of travel and remote work will continue to proliferate in the travel space. There will be more businesses (or modifications in businesses) catering towards this group, such as co living spaces, hostels/hotels with better coworking facilities, and experience retreats that combine business and travel experiences.”
With the Metaverse whetting an already growing appetite for immersive virtual experiences, virtual travel is tipped to play a much bigger role in tourism in 2023 and beyond.
In a survey conducted by booking.com, 32 percent of respondents revealed that they would be more likely to travel to a new place if they experienced it virtually beforehand.
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