Nostalgia, psychedelics and the Metaverse: Booking.com’s 2023 travel predictions revealed!

Cropped shot of three girlfriends out on a road trip

People around the world are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about travelling in 2023 compared to 2022, according to Booking.com’s new travel research.

Despite some current instability felt globally, over three quarters (76 per cent) of Aussies report that travelling will always be worth it.

If 2022 was about the triumphant return of travel, 2023 will be about creatively reimagining it amidst the chaos, according to Booking.com.

To understand how travel will be reimagined in 2023, the platform commissioned extensive research with more than 24,000 travellers across 32 countries and territories, combining it with its insights as a leading digital travel platform to reveal seven emerging travel predictions.

The 2023 travel predictions reflect this sentiment, revealing that the needs of travellers are moving in a lot of different directions to adapt to changing times.

1. Preppers in Paradise 

Almost half (44 per cent) of Aussie travellers want their travel experiences to have a more back-to-basics feel and are looking for ‘off-grid’ style holidays to escape from reality (62 per cent) and switch off and experience life with only the bare necessities (44 per cent).

Travellers are also keen to use travel in 2023 as an opportunity to learn survival skills (61 per cent) including how to source clean water (46 per cent), light a fire from scratch (47 per cent), forage for food in the wild (36 per cent) and even prep for an apocalypse (39 per cent).

‘Off-grid’ in 2023 won’t necessarily mean roughing it though. There is a common perception that this means giving up luxuries (69 per cent), however, there is a strong desire to combine the two with 55 per cent only considering travelling ‘off-grid’ if it can be at a more indulgent stay.

2. Virtual Voyagers 

Over a third (38 per cent) of Aussie travellers reported that they will be turning to virtual reality next year to inspire their holiday choices, where travel will enter the ever-evolving 3D virtual space of the Metaverse in earnest in 2023.

In 2023, travellers will become bolder in their real-life trip choices, after being able to visit them in the Metaverse first via their online avatars – especially handy for those who might feel anxious about trying somewhere new, with 41 per cent more likely to travel to destinations that they wouldn’t have previously considered after virtually experiencing them.

While the Metaverse will offer a new way to experience travel in the year ahead, it still won’t stop people from booking a ticket to their next destination, as 64 per cent believe that a virtual experience is not fulfilling enough to check it off the bucket list.

3. Delight in the Discomfort Zone

Almost half (47 per cent) of Aussie travellers want to experience complete culture shock in 2023 – be it travelling somewhere with completely different or cultural experiences and languages (45 per cent).

Forget the usual favourites, in 2023 Aussie travellers will be seeking unique holidays that shock, surprise and delight with over half (66 per cent) looking forward to experiencing ‘out of comfort zone’ travel that pushes them to the limits.

Nearly half (42 per cent) are on the hunt for the world’s most exotic delicacy such as the hottest chilli pepper, while 37 per cent want to use their holiday for extra-terrestrial exploration on UFO or alien spotting tours.

4. Glamorising the Good ol’ Days 

Amid global instability and the desire for escapism, people intend to carve out travel experiences that harken back to simpler times, with nostalgic getaways (86 per cent) that provide the thrill of reliving the glory days top Aussie wish lists in 2023.

There’s a desire to disappear into the romanticism of a pre-digital era, with a quarter (25 per cent) of travellers chasing experiences that evoke (faux) emotive memories of days gone past, such as visiting landmarks or attractions featured in iconic retro films or opting for a bus as a primary mode of transport to live the group spirit of school trips.

Travellers are no longer forfeiting play in favour of rest and relaxation, increasingly seeking the adrenaline rush of theme parks (62 per cent) and drawing on the imagination with activities such as escape rooms, scavenger hunts and building fortresses with giant building blocks.

5. Peace and Pleasure Pilgrimages

Seeking to recenter the mind, meditation and mindfulness getaways are ever popular with Aussie travellers (45 per cent), silent retreat and more than two-fifths (39 per cent) are keen, transformative health or that helps with life milestones such as menopause or pregnancy.

For those seeking enhanced spiritual experiences to stir the soul, alternative substances such as cannabis or plant-based psychedelics like ayahuasca or mushrooms will become a more mainstream offering, with 39 per cent keen.

Increasing conversations in the public sphere around sexual wellbeing, pleasure and orientation are encouraging more people to take time away on an erotic escape (34 per cent). Polyamorous retreats, bondage camps and resorts dedicated to helping people discreetly delve into specific fetishes and kinks are predicted to become more mainstream in 2023, providing a safe space for travellers to explore their sexual desires away from home.

6. From Daily Grind to Great Company Escape

A significant amount (70 per cent) of Aussies want their trips to be strictly work-free in 2023, and while more than half (55 per cent) are not interested in working while away, they would consider clocking in for a company retreat or trip.

In fact, almost half (46 per cent) of Aussies would like to see their employer use the money saved from the shift to remote/hybrid working models spent on corporate travel or retreats.

7. Saving to Splurge 

Aussies will still place carefree getaways at the top of their agenda, with over half (52 per cent) of travellers saying that investing in a holiday remains a top priority for them. But being budget conscious is key, with seven in ten (71 per cent) travellers continuing to spotlight travel while seeking more bang for their buck.

2023 will see financially savvy itinerary curation at its finest, with people planning travel budgets more tightly by taking advantage of deals, hacks and smartly timed travel (70 per cent) prioritising value for money with discounts and loyalty programs (62 per cent).

Over half of travellers believe the best use of their budget is to opt for one or two longer holidays instead of several short breaks and many are also surprisingly prepared to dial up their spend on the components of their trip that mean the most to them. Half (50 per cent) admit that they plan to be more indulgent in their spending, while 46 per cent maximise their trip and every experience is worth it.


Featured image: iStock/pixdeluxe

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