In the days when travel was difficult or dangerous, art took us around the world. In fact, musician David Paich of Toto composed the hit song ‘Africa’ in 1981 without ever having set foot on the continent! But in 2020, travelers can live out every dream they have. Cities and countries are not just places on a map; they have personalities that reel in visitors—from the hip-hop pulsing through Brooklyn’s veins to the sonorous Buddhist hymns echoing in the mountains of Bhutan. Vacations today are not about photographs of you pinching the dome of the Taj Mahal or leaving groan-inducing Instagram hashtags; they are vital stress-busters in a world that’s tiring itself out with its own pace.
Travelling is also a great way to live out fantasies, empathise with cultures that are very different from ours, or to simply put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a while. So whether you want to scale a volcano, dive with sharks, teach children in a remote village or learn an exotic cuisine, it’s there for the taking. Studies show that travelers, particularly younger ones, are now gravitating towards experience-based holidays that give them something more meaningful than a conventional vacation.
A recently-released Airbnb study says that 58% of Indians prefer spending money on experiences over things, while 65% want to go for experience-based holidays in 2020, especially women and young adults.
The study also outlined five travel trends for the year 2020, which include the following:
Meditation and wellness experiences
With the polluted and traffic-choked state of our metros, it’s no wonder people are finding ways to seek peace and quiet away from cities. This includes meditation, spa and sauna destinations, as well as wellness experiences in proximity to nature, such as hot springs and forests. In fact, bookings for meditation experiences on Airbnb more than doubled in 2019 compared to the past year, while solo bookings went up 79%, indicating that many more travelers now prefer to go on soul-searching missions alone.
Seeing the rising appeal of wellness retreats, Thrive Global and Airbnb have partnered to offer custom experiences for organisational teams in various locations. These retreats will cover themes such as peak performance, mindful leadership, behaviour change, stress management and digital detoxes. You can find out more about these custom retreats here.
Why take cars and buses on holiday, when you can walk? In 2020, hikes and treks are likely to become extremely popular activities. Global destination options for those looking to reconnect with nature, flora and fauna are Kathmandu (Nepal), Marrakech (Morocco), Ubud (Indonesia) and Melbourne (Australia). Within India, Goa and Kerala will remain evergreen options for those who love sun and saltwater, while Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh will continue to draw trekkers, cyclists and adventurers.
Turning back the clock
Traditionally, a strong reason to travel has been to connect with the architecture, art and traditions of our shared past. History will continue to be a crowd-puller in 2020, indicated the Airbnb study, which saw a 116% increase in bookings, especially thanks to Gen Z and millennial guests. Some of the most popular history-based experiences on the platform included centuries-old gardens in Kyoto (Japan) and visits to traditional homes and monuments in Seoul (Korea).
In India, history buffs will love the monuments of Hampi (Karnataka) and Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), the forts of Rajasthan, ancient caves like the ones at Ajanta and Ellora and the many ancient places of worship scattered across the country.
Eco-friendly travel and smaller trips
Responsible and sustainable travel experiences are expected to become a higher priority. While not all of us can cruise about in electric cars or solar-powered sailboats, we can definitely consider staying in eco-friendly hotels or homes, and following ethical travel practices like polluting less and using cleaner local transport. That’s why no-frills stays and minimalist spaces like shepherd’s huts or tiny homes are expected to be in greater demand in the coming year.
Interestingly, over a quarter of Indians (28%) in the survey said they preferred short trips to destinations within 100 miles (160 km) or less of their homes.
Sampling a new culture through its food has always been one of the best things about travel. But culinary experiences are expected to get more participative, with many more people choosing to learn baking, dumpling-making, and pasta while travelling. And for people who prefer plant-based diets, vegan food will be much easier to get, with a 579% jump in such options in 2019, over the previous year. In all, food and drink still remain one of the biggest draws for foreign tourists around the world.
For organisations and teams looking to change the way they live and work, Thrive Global and Airbnb’s wellness retreats are a great place to start. And for more ways to keep thriving, keep reading Thrive Global India!