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Travel Trends 2023: Where To Go & How To Do It

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From revenge travel to virtual travel, here's what will be hot in the travel industry in 2023

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‘If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that travel should not be taken for granted,’ says Arjan Dijk, senior vice president and CMO at Booking.com, looking ahead to 2023. It’ll be a year in which we ‘seek unapologetic moments of happiness and escapism to counteract the heavy realities of our news feeds’, he says. But how can we find these ‘unapologetic moments’? What will travel look like in the new year? Here are the travel trends we expect to see ruling in land, sea and sky in 2023, including the trendiest places to book ahead.

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Travel Trends 2023: Where To Go & How To Do It

  • Set-jetters: Travellers opt for filming locations for their holidays
  • Hay-cations: Rural homestays are on the rise
  • Revenge travel: Time to make the most of what we have
  • Virtual travel: Will the Metaverse change travel as we know it?
  • Luxury redefined: What will luxury mean in 2023?
  • More bang for your buck: Time to get financially savvy
  • Private jet boom: More jets, and a younger clientele
  • Young travellers: Young adults are travelling more than older people
  • An end to ‘work from anywhere’: Holiday means holiday

Set-Jetters

Ever watched a film or TV show and found yourself pausing not to Google the actor, but to find out the beautiful filming locations? From gorgeous stately homes to pretty beaches with sparkling oceans, Expedia Group (Expedia, Hotels.com, VRBO) has found that streaming movies and TV shows is now the top source of travel inspiration (with 44 percent of those surveyed influenced by it), strikingly outpacing social media (15 percent influenced). Top destinations, according to Expedia, include: New Zealand, the UK, Paris, New York, and Hawaii. Check out our filming locations hub here.

a farmhouse in a field of yellow grass

Hay-cations

Move aside staycation – it’s all about the hay-cation. ‘Rustic getaways are on the rise,’ says Expedia Group, ‘as travellers across the world crave private holiday homes with abundant space and breath-taking views. Cue the hay-cation, offering an intimate escape to experience a more authentic wild countryside life. 

‘Travellers are booking converted barns and farmhouses in the countryside of Italy, Spain, France and the UK,’ says Expedia. ‘Further afield, ranches in the US and farmhouses in the Australian outback are also popular choices. In the UK, demand for Vrbo homes in destinations offering many converted barns like Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire increased by more than 50 percent.’

Revenge Travel

If the pandemic has left you longing for lost time, you might be one of many people booking a revenge holiday in 2023, making up for the time when travel was out of bounds or extremely limited – especially now that most countries have reopened to visitors.

‘With global restrictions predominantly eased, and travel firmly reinstating itself on the agenda for millions around the world, the travel sector is expected to experience a seismic boom in 2023 to further build on the rising figures throughout the past year,’ says Tim Hentschel, co-founder and CEO of HotelPlanner. ‘Within the industry, we call this revenge travel: the notion that we should book more trips now than ever before to make up for that lost time. 

‘The mindset of travellers in 2023 will be to book that long-awaited, well-deserved trip to a new city, the dream resort or a new corner of the world,’ says Hentschel.

a woman sat at a desk with a vr headseat

Virtual Travel

Virtual reality was proposed as the new frontier many moons ago, but is virtual travel finally becoming a thing? Yes, according to Booking.com, which has found that 28 percent of UK travellers will use VR to inspire their holiday choices in 2023. The Metaverse is proposing a ‘try before you buy’ experience, hoping to educate, entertain and inspire.

‘Travellers will no longer be limited by physics, and can experiment with different travel experiences in a year when Metaverse worlds will begin replicating and reimaging destinations,’ says Booking.com. ‘Moving beyond 2023, haptic feedback – the use of touch to communicate with users – will make virtual travel a truly immersive experience, delivering a credible sense of 3D touch, such as the feel of soft grains of sand and the warmth of the sun.’ 

A little too Black Mirror, perhaps – but Booking.com believes this will make UK travellers ‘bolder in their real-life trip choices, after being able to visit them in the Metaverse first via their online avatars – especially handy for those who might feel anxious about trying somewhere new.’ According to Booking.com, 32 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to travel to a new place they wouldn’t have previously considered if they virtually experienced it beforehand.

Luxury Redefined

Luxury is back with a bang: ‘Millions of people were very diligent in saving their increased disposable income and now have the financial means for a more bespoke, upscale, inclusive, or other luxury experience,’ says Hentschel at HotelPlanner. ‘This may include flying private, staying at an all-inclusive resort, going on an exotic safari, or simply staying in nicer hotels and eating at nicer restaurants.’

Travel agency Go2Africa adds, however, that ‘the idea of “luxury” is being redefined, as it no longer means spending lots of money for the sake of it’. In the cost of living crisis, holiday makers will be really looking to make the most of their money.

sun beds by an infinity pool with palm trees

More Bang for your Buck

‘2023 will see financially savvy itinerary curation at its finest,’ says Booking.com, ‘with Brits planning travel budgets more tightly by taking advantage of deals, hacks and smartly timed travel (60 percent) and prioritising value for money with discounts and loyalty programs (56 percent).

‘Within this context, many travellers are also surprisingly prepared to dial up their spend – and even splurge – on the components of their trip that mean the most to them,’ Booking.com says. ‘38 percent of Brits admit that they plan to be more indulgent in their spending habits while on holiday to make up for the lack of travel during the last couple of years, while 35 percent plan to spend lavishly to ensure they maximise their trip and every experience is worth it.’

So how can we get the most value out of luxury holidays? British luxury travel agency Scott Dunn recommends:

  • Booking early – Scott Dunn helps travellers book flights up to 11 months in advance, and alerts guests to annual sales on airlines such as British Airways, Qatar and EasyJet
  • Choosing a route with a stopover – ‘With the cost of flights at an all-time high, an indirect flight route provides the opportunity to explore two destinations for the price of one,’ says Scott Dunn. For example, stopping in Istanbul on the way to the Maldives.
  • Opting for a ‘best value’ destination – Scott Dunn recommends Japan, Thailand, Egypt, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Mauritius, with package deals available in each of these locations.

a private jet dashboard

Private Jet Boom

On that note, the private jet market is undergoing change, with the share of Jetcraft’s clients under the age of 45 rising by 20 percent. Jetcraft, global leader in pre-owned aircraft sales, acquisitions and trades, also notes that younger buyers spend more money on their jets, with the average transaction hitting $25 millions, 31 percent higher than transactions from those over the age of 45.

Young Travellers

It’s not just private jets that young people are spending money on: ‘Younger, richer travellers are getting out there in a big way,’ says travel agency network, Virtuoso

‘The 18–34 age group averaged 2.2 more international trips in the past year than the 65+ age group, and 1.3 more domestic trips,’ Virtuoso finds. ‘DIY travellers took about the same number of trips in the past year as Virtuoso-advised travellers, but the latter took longer trips, spending more nights in hotels, rentals, and cruises and skewed more toward international trips.’

And, with the rise of Instagram- and Tiktok-influenced travel experiences and young-targeted apps like Step (which allows users to find, save and share recommendations in a interface similar to Instagram), it looks like this trend will be here for the long haul.

an infinity pool by the sea in the maldives

An End To ‘Work From Anywhere’

It was an exciting prospect when ‘work from anywhere’ policies started entering the workplace, with remote workers looking to make the most of their no-office freedom. But as the new normal stretches on, ‘employees are increasingly keen to preserve holiday time for complete escapism’, Booking.com finds.

‘A significant amount of UK travellers (68 percent) want their trips to be strictly work free in 2023, and while half are not interested in working while away, they would consider clocking in for a company retreat or trip,’ Booking.com says. Don’t be so surprised if you see a business retreat on the agenda for 2023, then.

The Best Destinations To Travel To In 2023

  • City breaks: Paris, London, Barcelona, Bangkok, Madrid
  • South American cities
  • Guyana
  • Bhutan
  • Jordan
Photo 1 of
a black cab on a London street

Image: London

City Breaks

The top five destinations for 2023 according to Opodo’s booking data so far are: Paris, London, Barcelona, Bangkok and Madrid. In global searches, Tokyo and New York City feature alongside the most-booked cities. 

Maybe that London staycation is still on the cards, then. ‘The Coronation of Charles III in London on 6 May 2023 has caught the imagination of global travellers, with searches for travel to London between 4–8 May 2023 already showing an increase of 143 percent against the same dates in 2022,’ Opodo says.

Or Liverpool? ‘The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in Liverpool on 13 May 2023 is also driving a 569 percent increase in global searches to travel to Liverpool between 11–15 May 2023 versus the same dates in 2022,’ Opodo notes.

a bustling market in buenos aires

Image: Buenos Aires

South American Cities

The Ultimate Travel Company notes that South America is also experiencing an uptick in visitors, citing a 70 percent increase in travellers to cities like Buenos Aires, Rio and Mexico City.

‘With BA recently announcing the return of its direct flights from Heathrow to Buenos Aires from March 2023, we expect an influx of travellers in 2023 and, more specifically, an increase in food and wine enthusiasts given the fabulous new foodie experiences on offer,’ says The Ultimate Travel Company. ‘Particularly popular with our clients are beer, mezcal and taco tours in Mexico City, our specialist foodie tour of the Roma neighbourhood in Mexico City (where the 2018 film was set), and our specialist cookery experiences with local chef Paila Mendex Carreras in San Antonio de Areco where famously the gaucho tradition started.’

Jungle and waterfall scene in Guyana, South America

Image: Kaietuer Falls, Guyana

Guyana

Did you know that Guyana is the only South American country with English as its official language? This, along with the launch of BA’s new flight route from Gatwick to Georgetown (the nation’s capital), means Guyana is expected to become a hot new travel destination in 2023.

With ‘an awe-inspiring landscape featuring the Amazon rainforest, savannahs, great rivers and spectacular wildlife, this is South America’s best kept secret and one to watch for 2023,’ says The Ultimate Travel Company. ‘Our clients are realising that there is much more to Latin America than the well trodden spots of Mexico and Costa Rica and that Guyana offers something new, less known and exciting.’

Currently, Guyana receives the same amount of tourists in a year as Peru’s Machu Picchu does in a day. It’s an exciting destination for adventure enthusiasts looking to get off the beaten track: Guyana is considered ‘the Land of the Giants’, with jaguars, black caimans, giant otters, giant anteaters and the harpy eagle all calling Guyana home.

a building on a cliff face in bhutan

Bhutan

Following its two and a half year closure, Bhutan is open once more, with the relaunch of the Trans Bhutan Trail after 60 years to boot. Passing through some of the nation’s most remote spots, and imbued with nature, wildlife, culture and spirituality, the trail was formerly used by pilgrims, traders and soldiers. 

The Ultimate Travel Company has curated a bucket list in anticipation of the uptick in searches, featuring Kathmandu Valley, flying over the Humalayas, visiting Trashi Chhoe Dzong Monastery, exploring bamboo forests and historic sites, and climbing up to the legendary Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

camels resting in the desert in jordan

Jordan

‘With the rise of the experience economy and increased demand for active adventurous holidays, travellers are choosing to invest in a holiday that says less about where they are and more about what they do with their time,’ says The Ultimate Travel Company.

Enter: Jordan. Here, the government is looking to attract 4.5 million tourists by the end of 2023, opening and reopening airline routes and supporting new hotel openings, including Petra Crown Plaza and Sahara Rum in the Wadi Rum desert.

‘With over 8.5 million people choosing outdoor exercise to better one’s physical and mental wellbeing, it is no surprise that our clients are looking for destinations that offer the ultimate in active and adventurous travel, and Jordan is a bucket-list must for those looking for an extraordinary active escape,’ says The Ultimate Travel Company.

Featured Image: Roy’s Peak Lake, Wanaka, New Zealand (c) Getty.