5 biggest travel trends of 2023

A multi-generational family walking in a forest. Multi-generational travel was a leading travel trend for 2023. Picture Supplied

A multi-generational family walking in a forest. Multi-generational travel was a leading travel trend for 2023. Picture Supplied

Published Dec 21, 2023


From wellness travel to sustainable travel, these are just some of the trends that piqued in 2023.

As the year draws to a close, 2023 was a good year for travel. It was a year of recovery and getting back to ‘normal’ as many destinations and travel businesses are still focused on recovering from the impact of COVID-19 and travel restrictions.

According to FowardKeys, a leading provider of comprehensive global air travel intelligence, while the speed of recovery varies by region, it is expected to be complete by the end of 2024, even for countries that only recently lifted travel restrictions.

The world of travel is constantly evolving and just like any other industry, trends come and go.

As we look forward to the 2024 travel year, here are some of the biggest travel trends for 2023.

Multi-generational travel

Multi-generational travel was high on the list of travel trends. As families become more dispersed, multi-generational travel offers the opportunity for inter-generational families to create life-long memories together and celebrate their connection.

Travellers love multi-generational travel as families can spend uninterrupted quality time together and this way of travel appeals to the desire to foster closer family ties and ever-lasting memories among different generations in a relaxing and entertaining environment away from home.

According to studies, 33-40% of the $270 billion in leisure travel is multi-generational. Euromonitor International’s 2018 Global Consumer Trends report also indicated that the rise of multi-generational travel “is in part about finances and boomer parents helping their cash-strapped kids.

When it came to 2023, Safari company African Travel, for example, reports a 20% increase in Safari bookings from last year, with 40% of trips arranged and paid for by grandparents to help make a bucket-list experience possible for their families.

The benefits of this scale of family travel stretch through every generation, especially for children who can enhance their education and social skills, as they receive hands-on learning from more experienced generations.

Wellness travel

As people continue to prioritise their health and well-being, wellness travel has become more popular.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism can be defined as travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing.

With so much ‘unwellness’ embedded in today’s travel, wellness tourism brings the promise of combating those negative qualities and turning travel into an opportunity to maintain and improve our holistic health.

Travellers choose destinations and activities that promote relaxation, mindfulness, and self-care.

When it comes to wellness travel destinations, some travellers may be satisfied with a generic massage, exercise class or smoothie.

The more discerning and sophisticated wellness travellers, especially those in the millennial generation, are interested in what the destination offers that is different from some place else.

Yoga or meditation retreats were at the top of the list when it comes to wellness travel and these retreats typically involve several days of yoga classes, as well as other activities such as meditation, hiking and healthy eating.

Spa retreats were also popular and these retreats focus on relaxation and pampering, and typically involve a variety of spa treatments such as massages, facials and body wraps.

Sustainable travel

Sustainable travel was one of the most popular travel trends in 2023. According to Skyscanner, more than 1 in 4 global respondents said travel-related sustainability was more important to them now compared to pre-pandemic times.

Sustainable tourism is a concept that covers the complete tourism experience, including concern for economic, social and environmental issues as well as attention to improving tourists' experiences and addressing the needs of host communities.

Tourist development organisations are promoting sustainable tourism practices in order to mitigate the negative effects of the growing impact of tourism.

For instance people are choosing to travel in a way that minimises the impact on the environment.

This could mean choosing to stay in eco-friendly hotels, using public transportation, eating local food and choosing destinations that promote sustainable tourism.

Digital nomadism

Following Covid-19, there has been a surge of digital nomadism and remote work. With this new freedom, employees are taking on travel whilst they still work.

According to hotelchamp.com, employers are embracing hybrid models with some even committing to work-from-anywhere policies in a post-pandemic work environment.

Governments have also gotten on board, Portugal, Thailand, Iceland, Germany and many others have already introduced official digital nomad visas to attract remote workers for longer stays.

The rise of countries welcoming digital nomads through these incentive programs creates easier options for those looking to spend weeks or even months in another country.

This allows them enough time to get their work done and explore the destination on the same trip.

Local experiences

With rising costs of living and inflation, people have been coming up with creative ways to still travel whilst not breaking the bank. As a result, people became more interested in exploring their own backyards and local travel become more popular.

The year saw people choosing to travel within their own country or region, rather than going abroad. This trend also lead to an increased interest in rural destinations and small towns.

Some of the popular ways people choose to explore in this category include staycations, road trips, camping and exploring local history.