Domestic road trips, pet-friendly accommodations, house rentals, national parks and—sometimes—nightmares in paradise defined pandemic travel. We were craving worlds outside of our quarantine pods, but when we did finally get out, we packed up our lives and took them with us. Why not bring Sparky to cabin hop through the Rockies now that remote work is the norm? For 2023, travel is once again reimagined. This time, we’re calling the underlying thread agoraphilia. Travelers are craving public life, undesigned experiences and bustling crowds. According to Expedia Group’s comprehensive travel trend report, 46 percent of people say travel is more important to them now than it was pre-pandemic. This year, we are opening doors instead of digging tunnels. Here are the five travel trends already impacting 2023.
2023’s Explosive Travel Trends Point to One Thing: Agoraphilia
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Who hasn’t watched an episode of Outlander and not wanted to take to the Scottish Highlands? Or what would it be like to live in a charming small town like Virgin River? In the next year, “set-jetting” as Expedia research reports, is no longer a fringe concept. In fact, the travel group found that TV shows are a top source of travel inspiration—outpacing social media influence (see ya, TikTok!). The top destinations include New Zealand (thank you, Rings of Power) and Great Britain (cheerio, The Crown), Paris (bonjour, Emily), New York City (and just like that, the Big Apple is back!), and Hawaiian beach resorts (who’s in the body bag?). We can only imagine the major uptick of trips to Sicily after this season’s White Lotus.
2. Three-Star Is the New Four-Star
Yes, people are concerned about inflation, job loss and interest rates, but nothing quells wanderlust like getting out of dodge, travelers are being smarter about making their money go a long way. So move over four-star hotels. In 2023, Expedia Group reports: “40 percent of U.S. travelers plan to stay in 1–3 star hotels and 34 percent plan to book a vacation with added value inclusions, such as toiletries or free breakfast.” This is a shift from “bucket-list” mindsets to a spontaneous approach: “A third would rather go on more trips in three-star properties than splurge on one big luxury getaway.” But hotels are meeting consumers where they are. Per Expedia, fewer stars does not mean lower standards: “Many properties, such as Una Vida in Mexico, or Mama Shelter in Paris, still offer excellent amenities, stylish interiors and unique vibes as standard.”
We saw it take over wedding trends and fashion trends, and now it’s lassoing up travel. Giddy up, because cowboy-inspired vacations are on the palate for 2023. Expedia reports that demand for Vrbo homes in U.S. western destinations increased by more than 30 percent from September 2021 to August 2022: “Think log-lined cabins, flickering fires and sweeping vistas.” For more immersive cowboy living, experiential accommodations like luxury dude ranches offer a combination of escapism and back-to-basics, rustic living.
4. Sustainable Tipping
Eco- and sustainable-tourism has been a big draw in recent years. But if the people serving you fair-trade coffee at 6 a.m. aren’t themselves being paid a sustainable wage, what are we really saying about responsible travel? While Americans were experiencing tipping fatigue in the beginning of 2022, as major workforces make headlines for demanding better working conditions, more and more travelers are becoming astutely aware of the intense conditions service people work under. The result? We predict that 2023 will see an uptick in purposeful impact travel where visitors (hopefully) leave the locations and people in a better position than when they arrived, or, at least with a hefty tip.
5. Early Bird Specials
“The AARP special refers to people of all ages eating dinner earlier, at times previously only preferred by septuagenarians and older,” writes PureWow editor Sarah Stiefvater. But as more people receive information about the effects of late dining from their wearables, wellness influencers (including those much younger than 70) are hopping on the AARP bandwagon, making that 5 p.m. reservation a lot more coveted than the 7 p.m. The early bird dining option also double downs on the agoraphilia concept, creating more space in the day for even more activities. Why not follow up that decadent tasting menu at a dessert bar or jazz club?