Snail girl era, sleep tourism, or bleisure travel, this year has been a big brew of some of the snazziest buzzwords in travel. With multiple new trends sprouting up, thanks to travel aggregators, TikTok and other social media apps, travellers are inclined towards specific wandering patterns.
According to the latest travel trends report, Unpack '24, by online travel booking giant Expedia, trends like "set-jetting" or planning trips inspired by movies and television shows will continue to see a rise in the coming year. Search aggregator Skyscanner, in its latest Travel Trends 2024 report, states that Indians are inspired to visit places like Manali and Ladakh, having been influenced by Bollywood films such as "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani" and "3 Idiots," which are shot at these places, respectively.
The TikTok-inspired trend of "dupes" or affordable alternatives to popular destinations will also see an uptick in the coming year. Live music tourism is another phenomenon, with Expedia predicting a "tour tourism" encore in 2024. Almost 70 per cent of travellers who voted said they were willing to attend a concert outside their hometown, and 40 per cent claimed they would travel to a new city for a gig.
Here are some of the latest trends that are expected to pick up in the coming year.
With AI-generative travel taking the world by storm, tech-driven travel is only expected to soar further. Multiple apps are helping millions of travellers plan their dream vacations. With services such as customised itineraries, finding companions, and even eating at the homes of locals for an authentic experience, these new applications are changing the way we travel.
One such app is NomadHer, a global women's travel community app.
"As a female traveller, the most common question heard is, 'Isn't it dangerous for a woman to travel alone?' The experiences gained through travel have helped individuals discover who they are and what they want to pursue. Whether a 17-year-old high school student or a 60-year-old senior, NomadHer aims to assist all women in living a life of growth by safely travelling the world," said Soyeon Bae, Head of Content at NomadHer.
NomadHer has become the go-to app for 1,00,000 female travellers from 190 countries. Among its array of services, the real-time travel companion search feature stands out as a crowd favourite. As of November 2023, about 2,000 women from places like Seoul, India, Paris and Bali, use NomadHer to instantly find companions for their journeys.
The app's user base is primarily from the United States, India, France, and Korea. Notably, there has been a substantial surge in new registrations from Indian women in recent months.
"Within the app, the growing interest of Indian women in solo travel is evident, marked by the increased inquiries about travel within India. Consequently, plans are in motion to explore the creation of travel-related events and camps in India for the upcoming year," said Bae.
Bleisure, a portmanteau of the words business and leisure, tourism has been an extremely popular trend for the past couple of years. While on a business trip, many travellers are choosing to tack on a few extra days to explore a place properly. One of the biggest perks of bleisure travel is the significant amount of money you can save.
"The rise of Bleisure travel is a fascinating and welcomed trend in the travel industry. It reflects a shift in how individuals approach business trips, transforming them into opportunities for personal enrichment and exploration," said Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO of Waterways Leisure pvt ltd, Cordelia Cruises.
He further added, "From nomad visas, hotels offering longer-term stays to airlines offering free WiFi all through the journey—people can travel without being off the grid. Digital nomads contribute a global economic value of $787 billion per year."
While it's a great way to turn a trip into more than just business, being sustainable while doing so is also something a number of people are gravitating towards. With more travellers being considerate about sustainability, this approach to travel seems to be getting more mainstream with regular globetrotters. However, it isn't without its challenges.
"Sustainable travel becoming mainstream is both a boon and a bane. A boon as this will help conserve resources and help create awareness and appreciation for natural ecosystems as well as cultures. But, this has to be done with careful planning and consultations with communities, grassroots organisations and local entrepreneurs, something that is seldom being done across the landscapes where the tag of sustainable travel and eco-tourism is being liberally used," said conservationist Nirmal Kulkarni. He added that sustainable travel and tourism are linked to a deep awareness that travellers must have and imbibe before they reach the destination.
"This knowledge is a necessity now."
Slowmadism, or slowing down and having an immersive travel experience, is also one of the significant trends that stem from the ideals of sustainability. This buzz-worthy trend, falling in line with slow travel and sustainability, has been used to describe the slow-travelling digital nomads, hence, the slowmads.
Amidst the hustle of everyday life, the idea of going away to recharge for a considerable amount of time sounds extremely enticing. Many new forms of travel trends emerged in 2023, and some of them took the game to another level.
The new concept of sleep tourism picked up pace this year, with travellers prioritising uninterrupted hours of sleep with the sole intent of rejuvenating and unwinding. Also known as "napcations" and "nap holidays", sleep tourism offers travellers the perfect combination of a relaxed getaway coupled with holistic experiences, with some packages offering yoga and meditation options.
According to Booking.com's recent report titled "Travel Predictions 2024," 46 per cent of travellers willingly take out a chunk of their time to find new partners on holiday. In comparison, 39 per cent consider going away for a vacation as the remedy for heartbreak. With the rise in wellness-focused travel, this new trend fits right in. According to luxury travel network Virtuoso's 2022 travel trends report, 21 per cent of global travellers travel for health- and wellness-driven reasons. Some of the most popular trends under the retreat reboot umbrella include travelling to reconnect with loved ones, travelling for self-growth and sleep wellness.
"Many new trends have been picking up, and amongst the ones that are developing further for the long-term are definitely slow and solo travel, experience-led travels, culinary explorations, and milestone celebrations," said Vijay Kesavan, founder and CEO of StampThePassport, an AI-backed online platform providing visa experts and cutting-edge technology for travellers.
In a quest to redefine their "real" lives, a substantial 51 per cent of travellers, as per Booking.com, express a strong inclination toward the stripped-back lifestyle prevalent in agrarian and indigenous communities. These communities, where self-sufficiency is not just a choice but a way of life, hold a profound appeal. Moving beyond a mere return to basics, the emphasis lies in cultivating a harmonious balance with nature and the elements, seeking to reset their day-to-day routines upon returning home.
This growing trend signifies a collective desire among travellers to immerse themselves in the simplicity and self-sufficiency that characterise these communities, envisioning a transformative journey that transcends the conventional boundaries of travel.
Taking expeditions to Antarctica and delving deep into the murky waters of the ocean in big submarines are all the fads for those who have no qualms about splurging and want an extraordinary travel experience. Science-focused travel is another one of the big trends that this year gave us. According to experts at Virtuoso, science-focused expedition cruises are something that could see significant takers.
Expedition cruising offers customers the chance to study and learn alongside experts in the field. From studying rocks to conservation efforts, there are a lot of new things to learn about on such expeditions.
Another quick-rising trend is astrotourism. Imagine you are under a clear night sky with shooting stars visible right above you while you try to spot constellations with a group of similar-minded travellers. If that is something that makes you want to get your backpack ready, then astrotourism should be on your checklist of new trends to try.
"The future of astrotourism is very vibrant given the fact that experiential travel is something more and more people are looking for at the moment. But it goes without saying that the only way this will be possible is if non-organised or non-customer focused players in the industry do not tarnish experiences," said Ramashish Ray, founder of Starscapes, a company founded by amateur astronomers that curates specialised travel for astronomy enthusiasts. The company also organises astronomy tours, astrophotography, stargazing in observatories, workshops on astrophysics and space exploration in Benital, Uttarakhand.
These astronomy-themed tours depend largely on clear skies, providing travellers with a breath of fresh air and an escape from polluted city life. "Astrotourism can't work if skies are polluted by dust or too much light. These lead to many celestial objects being invisible or faintly visible. The development of Benital as an astro-village and the eventual popularity of this travel trend will benefit local communities, further incentivising them to curb pollution," he added.
In the culinary landscape of 2024, food archaeologists are on a quest to delve into the roots of vacation dining, unearthing novel culinary treasures. A whopping 61 per cent of these culinary enthusiasts express a heightened interest in unravelling the origins of a destination's "must-eat" delicacies, a significant surge from the past. Far from just following next-gen food trends, these culinary excavators prioritise preserving the authentic craftsmanship of traditional dishes, embracing gastro-tourism to immerse themselves in the unique history, geography, and produce that give rise to unparalleled cuisine, awakening the senses.
"The allure of these culinary journeys lies in the authenticity they offer. It's a chance to learn from local chefs, engage in cooking classes, visit markets, and savour flavours that are deeply rooted in the history and heritage of a place. These experiences enrich one's understanding of a region, fostering connections that go beyond the dining table," said Yutaka Saito, Delhi restaurant Home's Executive Chef.
The spotlight shines on heritage flavours, with an impressive 81 per cent expressing a desire to explore indigenous cuisines in 2024. Travellers wield the power to uplift under-represented communities, unlocking the secrets of cultures that may have been lost or forgotten elsewhere in the world. Anticipate a surge in indigenous experiences, guiding travellers on trails that narrate the story behind the food they savour, bringing pride and economic support to communities worldwide.
Food enthusiasts in 2024 are true experientialists, seamlessly transitioning between digital and physical realities to transform every gastronomic discovery into a heightened multisensory extravaganza. Almost half (46 per cent) seek an immersive "phygital" food experience enriched by Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR). Picture mood-altering lighting, paired fragrances, and sensual soundscapes that amplify the essence of foodways past, offering a culinary journey that transcends traditional boundaries.
With countries like Australia including more vegan options in their cuisine, it's fast becoming a big draw for travellers, especially from countries like India, who prefer vegetarian options or plant-based diets. "Australia's vibrant culinary landscape, with its emphasis on diverse plant-based menus, presents a wonderful opportunity to attract travellers from countries like India, where vegetarianism is prevalent. This inclusivity in the food scene contributes to making Australia an inviting and appealing destination for travellers seeking not just adventure but also a rich tapestry of culinary experiences that accommodate their lifestyle choices," said Australian celebrity chef Sarah Todd.
The Surrender Seekers
Modern travellers are increasingly drawn to the allure of the unknown, expressing a desire to surrender themselves to the element of surprise and explore uncharted territories during their vacations. According to Booking.com's report, a notable 52 per cent of these adventurous souls are eager to book a surprise trip, where every detail, including the destination, remains unknown until their arrival.
Fueled by a distaste for the monotony of everyday life and a proactive avoidance of cookie-cutter experiences, the intuitively adventurous traveller of 2024 seeks to break free from the constraints of homogenised vacations. The report states a significant 56 per cent prefer to veer off the beaten path, while a daring 34 per cent actively seek opportunities to travel with strangers.
Departing from meticulous planning, these surrender seekers embrace chance encounters and the spontaneity of experiences, adopting a "carpe diem" approach as their life motto. A majority (55 per cent) prefer to have no concrete plans before embarking on their journeys in 2024, allowing them to follow the winds of spontaneity. Moreover, over two-thirds (69 per cent) opt for loose plans, enabling them to change direction based on what feels right at the moment.
"I believe in the unimaginable healing potential of travel, especially when done with the right mindset. Such trips with loved ones or even solo, and in nature, can do wonders," said Siddhartha Joshi, travel photographer and Instagram influencer.
Recognising this shift in traveller preferences, the travel industry is swiftly responding with tech-enabled flexible services. These services empower travellers to cancel, change plans, and adopt a "buy now, pay later" approach at the press of a button, aligning seamlessly with the evolving mindset of surrender seekers in the realm of travel.