In just seconds, you can visually position yourself across the globe, Flight Centre South Africa’s general manager Antoinette Turner believes.
“Before you’ve even set foot in the airport, social media serves up endless wanderlust fuel, from glittering metropolises in the desert to ‘soft hiking’ and how to prep for your trip,” she said.
In a bid to reveal the hottest travel trends and destinations for the year, Turner has provided the following picture-perfect vacations going viral on Instagram and TikTok, as well a few #travelhacks.
The most hashtag-ed destinations on TikTok
Flight Centre analysed travel hashtag data to reveal the hotspots that are racking up the most video mentions so far this year. Turner said that Dubai took the top spot with the destination pulling in a whopping 140.4 billion views.
“All those over-the-top luxury hotels and glittering skyscrapers set against desert vistas clearly translate well to the short video format,” she said. Meanwhile, New York City ranked second with 101.8 billion views for #NYC.
“From iconic landmarks to fabulous food and nightlife, the city that never sleeps delivers endless trending content,” Turner said.
#London was in third place as it ranked 72.8 billion views, followed by #Paris at 68 billion in fourth place.
“It seems classic European capitals never go out of style on social media,” Turner believes. Completing the top 10 are sunny hits like #Miami, #LosAngeles, and #Bali. Other European favourites on the list were #Istanbul, #Madrid as well as #Chicago.
“So, whether you’re looking for desert glamour or big-city energy, TikTok users have already scouted the hottest destinations to round off your 2023 or inspire your 2024 #vacation,” said Turner.
When it comes to trend-influenced travel, Turner explained that the trends that influenced travel in 2023 include #RomanEmpire, #SoftHiking and #VacationPrep.
Turner explained that one of the biggest trends involves men embracing their inner Russell Crowe in Gladiator through the viral #RomanEmpire hashtag.
“It all started when one TikToker asked how often men think about the glory days of this ancient civilisation.”
“The responses came pouring in, with people eagerly detailing their frequent daydreams of Roman conquests, culture, and gladiator glory.”
The Flight Centre general manager added that searches for “Roman Empire” even hit a 10-year high on Google.
Turner also revealed that another trending TikTok topic with 2.2 million views was #SoftHike.
“This relaxing take on outdoor adventures involves gently exploring nature without pushing too many physical limits.”
She believes that this is a perfect trend for those who find intense hiking intimidating but still want to enjoy wandering through gorgeous landscapes... “and getting the snaps to prove it.”
Another TikTok travel trend was #VactionPrep or “prep craze”, which involves users searching pre-vacation beauty routines from Botox to Brazilian waxes.
“Travellers are sharing their full holiday glow-up checklists to look flawless for all those dreamy vacay photos,” said Turner.
She added that with enough injectables and laser treatments, “you too can stage bikini-ready photos straight out of the next Sports Illustrated issue.”
Genius or questionable? Travel hacks taking over TikTok
Turner noted that TikTok isn’t just full of beautiful videos to inspire your next destination.
“You can also find endless inspiration for travel tips and hacks to make your next vacation easier – or so they say.”
She explained that the #travelhacks hashtag alone has 731.5 million views and counting.
The Flight Centre general manager added that a trending idea is to create artsy timelapse videos of plane rides-by simply snagging a window seat and setting your phone to record and securing it against the frame for stunning aerial footage.
She also highlighted that the “pillow” hack is another trending tip, one that many a desperate traveller is sure to have tried, or considered, at one point or another when standing next to the check-in counter with their overweight luggage!
“The hack is to roll clothes inside your pillow to sneak more into your carry-on. Or fill the pillowcase itself with extra snacks and travel necessities.
“Apparently, one woman even pretended her pillow was a baby to score an extra seat, though experts definitely don’t recommend attempting any of these,” said Turner.
She also revealed that many travellers are also packing their own instant noodles and pots to enjoy a cheap, cosy meal in-flight.
Meanwhile, iPhone users shared an easy trick that involves tracking someone’s flight in real-time just by entering their airline and flight number in an iMessage.
“This is presumably super handy for keeping tabs on family or coordinating airport pickups,” Turner said.
Other trending #TravelHacks are to score free flights or upgrades using a variety of credit cards and points. But again, Turner urged for the use of common sense here.
“If something sounds too good to be true, it generally is.”
She added that relying on free upgrades and seat swaps is very unlikely and that the only sure way was to use legitimately acquired loyalty points or purchased upgrades.
She also noted that while social media serves up endless inspiration, it’s always smart to consult real travel experts.
“They can provide vital context and warnings for viral tips and trends that may exaggerate reality. Don’t risk your hard-earned vacation time and money by trusting a travel hack on the internet.”