For many of us, travel isn’t just an enjoyable pastime but a vital way to create a healthy and happy life — new research from Booking.com even found that 66 per cent of those surveyed thought they were the best versions of themselves while on holiday.
But if travel is a clear priority, the way we’ll be travelling is ever changing. Booking.com also found that travellers are looking to be surprised when they travel, whether that’s booking a trip where even the destination remains unknown until the last minute, or simply fulfilling a desire to break out of the everyday mould.
Sustainability continues to be ever important, along with ways to switch off and the importance of spending time with loved ones. We spoke to the experts to find out 2024’s biggest travel trends.
The quest for quietness
Modern travellers are increasingly seeking out the age-old power of silence, with quiet retreats and tech-free holidays giving respite from our noisy world. The idea dates back to the times when monastic silence increased a sense of inner peace and spirituality.
With the trend back in vogue, Marriott Bonvoy has found more “travellers are flocking to destinations like Jicaro Island in Nicaragua, where TVs and wi-fi connections are swapped for freshwater lakes, howler monkeys and lakeside yoga”.
And the Quiet Parks International initiative aims to promote pristine areas across the world that are designated “quiet zones”, such as wilderness and urban parks, as well as quiet trails — a measure that seems ever more essential based on that statistic that “97 per cent of the US population is exposed to noise from aviation and highways”.
What to book: There’s a new six-night retreat at Avalon, a state-of-the-art wellbeing centre at Broughton Hall in the Yorkshire Dales — Profound Rest includes three full days in silence. From £1,200 per person.
Or at North Island Seychelles, a Luxury Collection Resort, there are just 11 luxury villas sleeping up to four people — and almost nothing else, allowing guests to switch off entirely. From £5,920 per night.
We may be some years on from the pandemic but in many ways, its effects are still being felt. While travel restrictions have all but vanished, many of us feel like we are still catching up on lost time spent with family and friends — and travel that connects you to loved ones is high on the list for 2024.
“Whether it is a multi-generational holiday or a group getaway with friends, travellers can build special bonds through these bucket-list trips,” says experiential tour operator Cazenove+Loyd in its new Luxury Travel Trends Report. “Specifically, we’ve seen a rise in demand for exclusive-use villas, yachts and even private islands.”
Black Tomato has seen a similar rise in small-group travel, with people seeking shared experiences in order to make new memories with those who matter most. Co-founder Tom Marchant says: “Groups of eight or more people now account for 30 per cent of our bookings well into 2024.”
What to book: To cater for this rise in demand, Black Tomato has launched See You in the Moment — a bespoke line-up of extraordinary shared moments, ranging from dining inside Iceland’s Thrihnukagigur Volcano to an expedition on the Apurimac River through the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Or if the thought of a private escape tempts, try Housemartin on Kenya’s Lamu Island. The five-bedroom beachfront house costs from around £3,600 per night (five-night minimum stay), booked with Cazenove+Loyd — one of just two companies that can provide access.
Technology is bringing people closer too: Hilton’s room-booking technology allows guests to book connecting rooms, with the hotel finding that almost half of guests travel to connect with friends and family.
Long gone are the days when luxury travel was defined by stays in glossy hotels with no connection to a destination — today meaningful experiences and exclusivity take priority.
The Future of Travel report from Marriott, written in collaboration with trend forecasters The Future Laboratory, pinpoints “Nu-Luxury Frontiers” as a key trend for next year, which focuses on exclusivity, authenticity and the “unexpected” as the new luxury essentials
Neal Jones, chief sales & marketing officer of Marriott International, says: “There is a more considered approach to travel and a more emotional connection that’s unfolding in tandem with people’s core values.”
And as well as these “money can’t buy” memories, luxury means access to places only a few can experience — hidden gems, invitation-only hotels and discreet destinations, which are virtually impossible to find online.
Off the beaten track has become ever more far-flung, with remote destinations topping 31 per cent of luxury travellers’ wishlists, according to YouGov.
What to book: Tailormade travel specialist Audley Travel has introduced a series of new enhanced trips to satisfy this demand. “Exploring lesser travelled regions, such as Saskatchewan and the Yukon in Canada, and customising their experiences are hugely popular.”
The company has added Explora’s new Travesia journey to its Latin American offering, which takes travellers across one of the remotest regions on the planet, connecting the Atacama Desert to the endless white of the Uyuni Salt Flat.
Accommodation is mostly at Explora’s lodge, established in partnership with local families. A 12-day tailor-made trip with Audley Travel costs from £13,500 per person.
Or tailor-make your own self-drive itinerary to Saskatchewan with Canadian Sky. Options include exploring Western Canada’s Waterton Lake National Park, a three-day stay at a working ranch and stay at Kananaskis Mountain Lodge found in pristine nature in the foothills of the Rockies. An 11-night itinerary costs from £2,449 per person, including flights.
The benefits of being at one with nature have long been known, with forest bathing, star-gazing and outdoor meditation all helping us to disconnect from the noise of the modern world.
Over a third of those surveyed by Booking.com said they were interested in water-centric travel, from floating yoga to underwater hotels as well as water-based wellness holidays. The report also found “travellers crave the serenity of nature indoors, with 65 per cent desiring green spaces and plants in their stays”.
Design Hotels’ Further Forecast 2024, which looks at future developments in the world of travel, found that “30 per cent of people prefer travel destinations where they are immersed in nature or off the grid”.
The importance of nature has even crossed over into hotel design and architecture, with biophilic design — bringing nature indoors — being a frequent touchstone for new hotels.
What to book: Naviva, a Four Seasons Resort, in Mexico, fits this mould. The resort is spread across 48 acres of forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with just 15 luxury tents and a design intending to blur the border between the natural and manmade worlds. From around £3,150 per night (all inclusive, including wellness activities).
Closer to home, Ockenden Manor in West Sussex is running Full Moon Retreats throughout 2024. Yoga teacher and forest-bathing guide Helena Skoog, who has spent six years living off-grid in the Sussex woodlands, takes guests on a sensory journey in nature, taking advantage of the hotel’s dark-skies location with evening polestar meditation among the activities. From £883 per person.