Booking.com, a leading digital travel platform, has released its most extensive annual travel predictions research to date, which foresees people navigating contradiction and chaos in their travel choices.
Without a doubt, people are feeling more hopeful about traveling in 2023 than they did in 2022. And despite some current global turmoil, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) say that traveling will always be worthwhile. The atmosphere is changing from one of cautious optimism to one of brave and bold flexibility.
In contrast to 2022, when travel made a triumphant comeback, 2023 will be about rethinking travel in innovative ways during the upheaval. Everyone will try to strike the perfect balance in a contradictory environment so that nothing will be off-limits and everything will be on the menu.
Seven developing travel forecasts have been made by Booking.com, a renowned digital travel company, using extensive research with more than 24,000 travelers from 32 countries and territories to understand better how travel will be reimagined in 2023.
People are finding themselves in a tug-of-war, attempting to balance what is important to them with the demands of daily life in a time of general upheaval.
The 2023 travel predictions reflect this sentiment, revealing that travellers’ needs are moving in many directions to adapt to changing times.
Preppers in Heaven
Going off-grid has never been more popular than now, so prepare to use your compass, camouflaged cabins, and campfire food in 2023. But unfortunately, many people have lost faith in the world and the frivolous must-have pleasures of our modern existence as a result of the turbulent past few years.
Nearly half (44 per cent) of all tourists worldwide prefer trips that are more simple and uncomplicated. They seek “off-grid” getaways to disconnect from daily life (44 per cent), escape from reality (55 per cent), and experience life with only the essentials.
In 2023, travelers are eager to take advantage of the opportunity to learn survival skills, such as how to find clean water (53 per cent), start a fire from scratch (42 per cent), find food in the wild (39 per cent) and even get ready for the end of the world (39 per cent).
As a result, expect to see more eco-friendly, earthy hotels opening up to cater to urbanites looking for simplicity, as well as hotels that provide advice on how to be more self-sufficient, such as finding and cooking their food while they are staying.
Additionally, it is anticipated that more wilderness survival schools will open up globally where tourists can learn the vital skills required to survive a catastrophic disaster.
However, ‘off-grid’ won’t necessarily imply roughing it in 2023. On the contrary, there is a strong want to combine the two, with 48 per cent only considering traveling “off-grid” if it can be at a more luxurious stay.
And how disconnected from the grid is the tourist in 2023? Expect this group to use 5G to survive the wilderness since over half (53 per cent) will have a non-negotiable requirement: phone and internet access at their destination is crucial.
Space travel used to be considered ambitious and “outer worldly.” But now that’s possible, what and where should we go next?
Travel will begin to enter the ever-evolving 3D virtual environment of the Metaverse in 2023, with almost half (43 per cent) of all tourists saying that they will use virtual reality to influence their vacation choices in the coming year.
The Metaverse will be more than a “try before you buy” experience. With over a third of travelers (35 per cent) eager to go on a multi-day VR or AR travel experience, it will educate, entertain, and inspire people, opening the door for endless adventure.
As the Metaverse worlds start replicating and reimagining locations, travelers won’t be constrained by the laws of physics and can experiment with various travel experiences.
Beyond 2023, haptic feedback, and the use of touch to interact with users, will create a genuinely immersive experience for virtual travel by offering a convincing sensation of 3D touch, similar to the feel of gentle sand grains and the warmth of the sun.
After seeing them in the Metaverse, travelers will be more adventurous when making real-world travel decisions. This is especially helpful for people who might be hesitant to try something new, as they are 46 per cent more likely to explore places they wouldn’t have otherwise thought to visit.
Three out of five people (60 per cent) think a virtual experience is not rewarding enough to cross it off the bucket list, even though the Metaverse will provide a new way to experience travel in the coming year.
Delight in the discomfort zone
The world is prepared to plunge headfirst into other cultures and novel experiences, whether it’s due to bottled-up energy, pent-up frustration, or a new lease on life.
Traveling to a place with entirely different cultural experiences and languages (51 per cent) or discovering lesser-known locations with hidden gems that aren’t currently on the radar (30 per cent) are two ways that half (50 per cent) of global travelers want to experience complete culture shock in 2023.
Forget about the traditional favorites. Instead, in 2023, vacationers will seek unforgettable trips that astonish, amaze, and thrill them. In addition, there will be an increase in specialized experiences pushing their travel adventures to the limit, as nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) look forward to experiencing “out of comfort zone” travel that challenges them to their boundaries.
A third of travelers (38 per cent) want to use their vacation to explore the extraterrestrial on UFO or alien spotting tours, while nearly half (47 per cent) are searching for the most exotic treat in the world, such as the spiciest chilli pepper.
Unsurprisingly, this “culture-shook” traveler also enjoys throwing caution to the wind. In 2023, three out of ten (28 per cent) plan to buy a one-way ticket and go where their instincts lead them.
Glamorizing the Good Old Days
People want to create travel experiences that evoke simpler times amid global turmoil and the desire for escapism. Nostalgic holidays (88 per cent) that offer the thrill of reliving the glory days top the wishlist in 2023.
Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of travelers will seek experiences that evoke (faux) emotive memories of days gone by. This could include visiting landmarks or attractions featured in iconic retro films or choosing a bus as their primary mode of transportation to live the group spirit of school trips.
There is a desire to vanish into the romanticism of a pre-digital era, even among millennials and Gen-Zs who never experienced it.
Travelers are increasingly pursuing the adrenaline thrill of theme parks (61 per cent) and using their imaginations with activities like escape rooms, scavenger hunts, and fort-building with enormous construction blocks.
With Millennials now having young children, there will be an increase in destinations that were popular in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2023, “family reunion” multigenerational excursions will be the most popular type of travel. Millennial travelers will be the first to reserve accommodations with developing era themes that take them back to a time they cherish (54 per cent).
Peace and enjoyment pilgrimages
In 2023, travel is expected to advance the concept of “mind, body, and soul” well-being, adopting a wholly immersive, no-holds-barred strategy to find happiness that includes unconventional ways to experience it.
Two in five (40 per cent) international travelers hope to find peace at a silent retreat, and more than two-fifths (42 per cent) are eager to take a health break that focuses on mental health, transformative health, or that helps with life milestones like menopause or pregnancy.
To recenter the mind, meditation and mindfulness getaways are always popular with global travelers (44 per cent), while two in five (40 per cent) aim to find peace at a silent retreat.
Alternative drugs like cannabis or plant-based psychedelics like ayahuasca or mushrooms will become more widely available for people seeking enhanced spiritual experiences to stir the soul. Thirty-six per cent of travelers are eager to undertake this type of experimental wellness encounter as part of their 2023 travels.
More people are taking time for an erotic retreat (36 per cent), as there are more discussions in public about sexual well-being, pleasure, and orientation. In 2023, it’s expected that polyamorous retreats, bondage camps, and resorts that enable guests covertly explore particular fetishes and kinks will become more commonplace, giving visitors a secure place to explore their sexual needs away from home.
From the daily grind to the great company escape
Employees are becoming increasingly eager to protect vacation time for pure escapism, a radical departure from the “work from anywhere” arrangements almost as widespread as yearly leave.
While over half (49 per cent) are not interested in working while away, a sizeable portion (66 per cent) want their trips to be fully work-free in 2023. However, they would consider clocking in for a company retreat or excursion.
Business travel will therefore be back on the table in 2023. However, contrary to business trips taken before COVID, employees are now looking for more chances to bond as a team outside the workplace, reflecting a growing desire to combine professional travel with constructive play.
Over half (51 per cent) of the global workforce would like to see their employer use the money saved from the shift to remote/hybrid working models spent on corporate travel or retreats. Forty-four per cent of the global workforce is looking forward to their employer planning a “real life” work trip to bring people together.
In response, 2023 will witness an increase in company retreats held in popular locations where the emphasis will be on fostering relationships and having fun as a group rather than working. Employers will make the retreat experience interactive and submerge personnel in a setting where cooperation among teammates is required. Think of “survivor”-themed getaways at luxury lodges or rural farms with shared cooking and outdoor adventure pursuits or crime-themed getaways where a sightseeing scavenger hunt doubles as a spy school, detective course, or CSI simulation.
Businesses stand to gain, too, as more than half (59 per cent) of workers globally believe that traveling will motivate them to work more productively.
Saving to splurge
Travelers will continue to prioritize travel in 2023 against the backdrop of uncertainty in the world economy. Still, they will be more careful about how to maximize their travel money and prioritize their priorities.
Carefree getaways will continue to be at the top of people’s agendas, according to 50 per cent of tourists who say that planning a trip is still a top priority. In addition, being budget conscious is essential, as nearly seven out of ten (68 per cent) travelers continue to prioritize travel while looking for ways to get the most from their money.
2023 will see financially-savvy itinerary curation at its finest, with people planning travel budgets more tightly by taking advantage of deals, hacks and smartly-timed travel (63 per cent) and prioritizing value for money with discounts and loyalty programs (60 per cent).
Over half of travelers (53 per cent) will attempt to cut costs by choosing off-season locations or longer routes, while 61 per cent will plan their trips farther in advance to get a better deal.
More than half (55 per cent) agree that booking one or two longer vacations rather than multiple shorter ones is the best use of their money.
In this context, it’s also a surprise to see how many tourists are willing to increase their spending – and even splurge – on the parts of their vacation that are most important to them.
Nearly half (49 per cent) acknowledge that they intend to indulge more while on vacation to make up for the lack of travel they have done over the past two years. While 43 per cent say, they intend to spend lavishly to make the most of their trip and make sure every experience is worthwhile.
Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com, comments: “If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that travel should not be taken for granted. This year’s travel predictions research shows the undercurrent of intentional paradoxical behaviors that will put us all more comfortably in the driving seat amid relentless instability. It also demonstrates a desire for travel to be a way to seek unapologetic moments of happiness and escapism to counteract the heavy realities of our news feeds. As such, at Booking.com our aim will continue to be to make it easier for everyone to seek their unique travel bliss in a more personalized and connected way in the year ahead and beyond.”
Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months.
In total, 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam).
Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.
Part of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), Booking.com’s mission is to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. By investing in the technology that helps take the friction out of travel, Booking.com seamlessly connects millions of travellers with memorable experiences, a range of transportation options and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more.
As one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes, Booking.com enables properties worldwide to reach a global audience and grow their businesses. Booking.com is available in 44 languages and offers more than 28 million total reported accommodation listings, including more than 6.6 million listings of homes, apartments and other unique places to stay.
No matter where you want to go or what you want to do, Booking.com makes it easy and backs it all up with 24/7 customer support.
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