Aussies undeterred by rising travel costs, reveals KAYAK trends report

Lifestyle portrait of a young businesswoman sitting with smart phone at the modern train

The season of New Year’s Resolutions is upon us and KAYAK expects travel to be high on Aussies’ to-do lists for 2023.

KAYAK’s latest search insights for travel in 2023 revealed that the travel enthusiasm that’s boomed since borders reopened, shows no signs of slowing down this year. Rising flight prices and cost of living hikes don’t appear to be deterring eager Aussie travellers who are researching for more luxurious, longer trips, while remaining loyal to tried and true destinations.

Based on flight searches, the average price of a return economy domestic flight for 2023 is around $397, about an 18 per cent increase compared to 2019 pricing set against about a 162 per cent increase in searches for domestic flights. Travellers hoping to venture internationally will see an increase of about 42 per cent in the average return economy flight price of around $2024, with searches also up about 85 per cent.

“While much has been made of the rising price of travel this year, we’re pleased to see that Aussies appear to have no intention of foregoing their holidays in the year ahead with domestic and international flight searches up about 92 per cent compared to the same search and travel period in 2019,” commented KAYAK brand director Nicola Carmichael.

“If anything, travellers are prioritising quality travel experiences and carefully investing in the choices that are right for them to ensure they’re making the most of travel opportunities in the current climate.

“KAYAK’s search data predicts that longer trips, luxurious choices and adopting sustainable swaps are trends in 2023.”

KAYAK.com.au travel trends for 2023:

2023 is the year to ‘live large’

Despite the average return first-class flight ticket increasing by around $3,500 to about $13,472 for travel in 2023, when compared to 2019, they have also seen about a 35 per cent increase in searches. Searches for domestic and international five-star hotels have increased by around 21 per cent. Aussies are exploring the opportunity to enjoy a luxe holiday despite the average international 5-star hotel price increasing by around $65 per night to $454 and domestically, these high-end hotels almost doubled in price (increasing about 49 per cent) to around $464 a night.

More leave allowances may be maxed out

The average search for a long-haul international trip is now around 23 days (up about 10 per cent on the 2019 average), while those holidaying within the Pacific the average search for travel is averaging 10-day stays (a rise of around 5 per cent since 2019). As well as signalling an appetite for holidaying ‘big’ next year, this trend also aligns with the global movement towards ‘slow travel’. A more sustainable way to travel, this trend sees holidaymakers stay at a destination longer in order to become immersed in the culture and environment.

Often viewed as pricey, popular domestic destinations will actually offer unexpected deals

Flights to many of Australia’s favourite coastal destinations have actually experienced a smaller price hike than other routes, and travellers hunting for a great deal may look closer to home for affordable flights. The domestic return economy routes seeing the smallest price rise – if any – compared to 2019 include Maroochydore (about 1 per cent price decrease since 2019), Ballina – Byron Bay (about 1 per cent increase), Coolangatta (about 5 per cent increase) and Cairns (about 6 per cent increase). Return economy flights to Launceston have also remained flat on 2019 prices.
Conversely, the routes that have experienced the biggest price increase for return economy flights compared to 2019 include Melbourne to Los Angeles (average price $2053, 92 per cent increase), Melbourne to Tokyo (average price $1533, 81 per cent increase ) and Sydney to Tokyo (average price $1706, 70 per cent increase).

For those bucking the trend for luxe holidays and opting to travel on a budget, KAYAK.com.au’s most affordable international return economy routes in 2023 and their change in price compared to 2019 are:

  1. Sydney to Auckland – average price $524 (32 per cent increase)
  2. Perth to Bali – average price $594, (62 per cent increase)
  3. Brisbane to Bali – average price $704, (21 per cent increase)
  4. Sydney to Fiji – average price $830, (43 per cent increase)
  5. Melbourne to Bali – average price $898 (41 per cent increase)

Aussies will be flocking back to Japan and other Asian destinations

Japan’s slow reopening post-COVID hasn’t deterred Australians from planning trips, with Sydney to Tokyo the most searched route for the year ahead. Other popular routes include Bali and London despite prices increasing significantly to these popular destinations.

KAYAK.com.au 5 most searched international routes for return economy flights for Australian travellers in 2023 and change in price compared to 2019:

  1. Sydney to Tokyo – average price $1707 (70 per cent increase)
  2. Sydney to London – average price $1952 (43 per cent increase)
  3. Melbourne to Bali – average price $898 (41 per cent increase)
  4. Melbourne to London – average price $1980 (44 per cent increase)
  5. Sydney to Bali – average price $975 (59 per cent increase)

Independent travel is on the rise

With a 10 per cent increase in searches for solo travel, KAYAK data suggests that solo trips are slowly on the rise, perhaps nodding to an increased focus from travellers on doing things ‘their way’ and planning the trips that best serve them.

Popular destinations for these travellers include Bali and Bangkok, as well as further-flung cities such as Tokyo, London and Los Angeles.

Road trips will be more sustainable than ever before

Turning the idea of sustainable travel as unachievable or expensive on its head, KAYAK’s data shows that the average price of hiring these EV and hybrid vehicles in Australia sits at $100 per day, compared to the average car rental price of $105.

This sits alongside a strong increase in searches for electric and hybrid cars compared to 2021.


Featured Image: (iStock/RossHelen)

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