The face of holidays is drastically changing. Gone are the days when travellers spent a week at a holiday destination, enjoyed the amenities and then went home.
Nowadays, they want to relish every part of the holiday experience – whether it is immersing themselves with the local lifestyle, ticking off bucket list goals or savouring the lush views.
With no budget constraints, some can travel for up to a year, heading from one destination to the next. Don’t mistake long-stay travel for spontaneous trips, though.
These travellers do not hastily pack their bags and venture into the unknown; they plan their trips to the very last detail.
Shezaad Gani, the operations director for Travel Juice, a specialist halaal travel concierge company in South Africa, said the long-stay trend has increased in recent months.
“It’s not entirely uncommon for some of our guests to book one- or two-month stays at a time. I guess the motivation for this new phenomenon is people wanting to settle in and take advantage of everything the destination has to offer over a longer period without feeling rushed. Some of our Middle Eastern clients see it as an ideal opportunity to escape their harsh summers.
“The choice of destination and type of establishment plays a massive role in determining the length of stay. For example, it would be unusual for guests to spend more than a couple of weeks in a hotel.
“However, a private villa or apartment which allows for a comfortable home-away-from-home environment is conducive to long stays,” he said.
Helen Untiedt, who arranges long-term stays for her wealthy clients, said some travellers book villas at least three months in advance.
“They know what they want and are not afraid to list them. When my clients decide to rent a villa, they get people to view the properties for them or they fly there to see if it's a good match,” she said.
These wealthy travellers have specific needs, so their long-term stays require attention to detail.
“Travellers want to feel like they are on holiday. They want everything available at the click of their fingers. There shouldn’t be a need for them to ask for anything; it should be readily available. “They also seek lavish houses with amenities like unlimited wi-fi, top-class bathroom products, fluffy gowns and state-of-the-art kitchen facilities, to name a few,” she said.
Untiedt said South Africa was fast becoming a top destination for long stays with Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Cape Town and Winelands among top choices. She said the price of private villa rentals started from R4 000 a night and could go up to R5-million for a year-long trip.
Around the world
Untiedt found that more people took risks with travel. They pack the essentials and embark on once-in-a-lifetime trips around the world. And these trips are not by any means budget-friendly.
“It is the full experience and travellers want to enjoy it without skimping on price,” Untiedt said.
She said families with small kids loved the idea of venturing abroad.
“They explore the world as a family. The parents homeschool their children while still enjoying the perks of holidays,” she said.
Some travellers prefer cruising around the world, which is rather tempting if you see the luxury vessels and enchanting itineraries planned by cruise companies. They also prioritise top-of-the-range dining and beverage offerings to cater to all types of diets. And the allure of sailing the world is selling out fast.
By March, most 2022/2023 world cruises featuring itineraries boasting 111 days and more were sold out.
Royal Caribbean, for example, offers a 274-night cruise that will journey seven continents and visit 150 destinations across 65 countries. The cruise onboard the Serenade of the Seas, dubbed the “longest and most comprehensive world cruise out there”, is priced from $61 000 (about R978 650).
Sailing trips also allowed travellers to explore new places.
Planning long stay trips
For travellers who plan long-stay trips, Gani recommended choosing wisely.
“Do your homework, read reviews and ask questions. Don’t stop asking until you’re satisfied with the answers. There are many unscrupulous service providers out there.
“If you’re going to fork out lots of money for a long stay, you want to make sure there’s little room for things to go pear-shaped.
“One or two months is a long time to suffer living in a horrible establishment,” he said.