Just as fashionistas crave the cutting edge of style, travelers always want to know what destinations are hot as they plan where to go next. To that end, the luxury travel network Virtuoso is a recognized trend-spotter. From a comprehensive survey of their global membership – Covington included – Virtuoso discerned five luxury travel trends for 2018 that are on the radar of high-end and experiential travelers.
Luxury travel has moved its focus from extravagant to experiential. Today’s travelers want to do things that foster genuine human connection, and often in some exclusive ways. Sleeping in unique accommodations such as a canopy tree house in Peru or an igloo in Norway are such experiences. Private wine tastings at renowned vineyards or sharing a traditional Arabian meal in the desert are special ways to engage with local culture through food. Luxury travelers’ desire to participate in exceptional activities continues to grow, too. These include traveling to the edge of space, swimming with sharks, and trekking to Everest Base Camp.
Luxury Travel Trends for 2018
Cold is Hot
Seasoned travelers in search of fresh destinations are setting their sights on chillier climes. Iceland continues to surge in popularity, placing high in several Luxe Report categories this year. Cruisers are enthusiastic about Alaska, and adventurers about Antarctica and the Arctic. One trip of a lifetime mentioned by Virtuoso’s expert advisors: seeing the Northern Lights.
Exploring New Destinations
Exploring new destinations is the year’s top trip motivator, and travelers are embracing the opportunity to push beyond their comfort zone. Virtuoso advisors suggest that people check out at least one new place a year, and challenge themselves to try something unexpected during their sojourn: swim with marine life like dolphins or mantas, go zip-lining or ballooning, or take a helicopter tour.
Connecting with Family Through Travel
After topping the list of trends since 2010, multigenerational travel has firmly established itself as a travel niche. Following close behind is travel with immediate family, also a consistent trend that will carry forward in 2018. Whether renting a European villa for a celebration with loved ones, cruising to the Galapagos Islands, or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, a family trip creates lifelong memories, strengthens bonds, and plays a pivotal role in childhood education.
From culturally rich South Africa, also 2018’s top adventure destination, to the wilds of Botswana and Kenya, to the souks of Morocco, Africa is one of the world’s most diverse continents. Virtuoso’s advisors say a safari is an integral part of the African experience, particularly with wildlife preservation a priority for today’s sustainably savvy travelers.
Be a Traveler, Not a Tourist
Immersive experiences not found in a guidebook or brochure, opportunities to meet locals, wandering neighborhoods and making spontaneous discoveries are the best ways to experience a destination, according to Virtuoso advisors. Whether it is wine tasting, or learning a traditional craft or a new language, travelers will be seeking out the true culture of that area they are visiting.
Because these experiential travel trends focus on far-flung exotic destinations, trip length is also increasing. Two-weeks and longer is the most popular, although international trips of less than a week for destinations like Machu Picchu and European cities are also prevalent. One last luxury travel trend for 2018 is that travelers are planning and booking farther out – up to two years in advance.
To discuss your 2018 travel plans with your personal travel designer, contact Covington Travel.