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Top travel trends for 2024

travel trends 2023

In 2023 the biggest travel trend was revenge travel: people embracing their holidays to the fullest extent in a bid to reclaim the time and experiences that Covid-19 stole from them. We saw massive surges in travel to Europe specifically, which trended as Euro Summer all over social media. 

For 2024, we’re seeing sustainable travel remaining as a priority for travellers who want more fulfilling and meaningful experiences. Off-the-beaten-track travel is back on the menu, as well as travelling outside of the summer months. Here are some of the most important, interesting, and surprising travel trend predictions for 2024.

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1 – Sustainable travel

Like in 2023, sustainable travel is still very much on the agenda, with many travellers weighing up their destination options and considering alternate modes of transportation. There is also a deeper desire to connect with local communities. Travellers are choosing to reduce their carbon footprint, and they are holding travel companies to account as well.

Adam Armstrong, CEO for Contiki, says “Sustainability efforts are driving more conscious travel decisions – people are travelling closer to home in order to reduce their carbon footprint, they’re using alternative transportation such as coach rides and train trips (more on that below), and travelling off-season to avoid large and potentially destructive crowds.”

Tasha Hayes, Contiki’s Operation Director & Sustainability Officer, cements Adam’s words, and adds: “Sustainable travel will only become more important in 2024 and our demo (18-35) will continue to expect companies like Contiki to build on their efforts year on year.  We are in the business of people and fun and it’s our mission to connect those two fundamental concepts of a Contiki trip in an authentic and meaningful way.”

“New itineraries like South Korea, Georgia, and the Baltics are attractive to those wanting to step a bit off the main tourist trail and rail itineraries will continue to grow as an alternative way to travel Europe. Contiki remains focused on its core mission of delivering social travel to 18-35s but without compromising the planet, destinations, and communities we visit.”

This travel trend is one Contiki is more excited and passionate about, and will most definitely be participating in. Tasha Hayes adds: “We continue to source and curate local experiences which get our travellers interacting with the local communities and feeling like they are leaving a positive impact on the destinations they are venturing to.”  

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in our journey to net zero and thrilled to have received funding towards reducing our carbon emissions relating to transport in Europe.  We’ve partnered with GoodFuels, a manufacturer and supplier of HVO biofuel that is completely produced by certified feedstock labelled as waste or residue.” 

“This will help reduce Contiki’s Europe trip emissions by 20% where HVO biofuel is available. This supports the efforts in transitioning our transportation network to zero or low emission vehicles. What’s exciting is that HVO fuel is becoming more and more readily available, which means our scope to increase our usage of HVO is tremendous.”

group of young travellers on bucket list trip

Image source:Contiki

2 – Off-the-beaten-track travel

Contiki’s Commercial and Product Development Director, Natasha Lawrence, has remarked that developing regions and under-touristed destinations are climbing in popularity. Her team states that: “Lots of destinations are suffering from the consequences of over tourism and locals are fighting back.” Though ‘Euro Summer’ was a massive success in 2023, many travellers took to social media to showcase the never-before-seen crowds which many were not eager to return to.

“To spread out demand, TTC (The Travel Corporation, Contiki’s parent company) has a commitment to increase the number of itineraries visiting developing regions and destinations not suffering from overtourism,” the product team continues. “We’re already seeing demand for this with the sales of destinations like Georgia and the Baltics increasing by over 30% year on year.”

Hammer Tsui, co-founder of A Fun Couple, echoes this sentiment. “More and more folks are looking for unique and less-travelled places, moving away from the usual tourist spots. Off-the-beaten-track trips are being highlighted as promoting deeper connections with local culture and committing themselves to sustainable travel. This trend goes hand in hand with the larger movement towards responsible tourism, where travellers want to be mindful of their impact on the environment.”

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3 – Shoulder Seasons

As mentioned above, the big European crowds in summer 2023 have deterred many travellers from travelling in the summer months. Enter, then, shoulder season travel, which is a travel trend already picking up. 

Contiki’s product team has shared a few more points on why this trend is starting to bloom. “This year’s concentrated demand in the high season isn’t sustainable for locals – it’s become tricky for them to find jobs outside of this season, and infrastructure is wasted. As a result, many destinations are encouraging travellers to visit in the shoulder seasons, and travellers themselves are keen for this.”

“This type of travel also means less busy attractions, milder temperatures, and cheaper accommodation and transport. Contiki has sold more seats for the months of January, February, March, September, October, November, and December for 2024 than this time last year in 2022.”

travellers taking a selfie in Paris

Image source:Contiki

4 – Longer Stays

“Due to airfares becoming increasingly more and more expensive, travellers are opting for longer holidays to rinse more value out of their fees by staying longer,” says Adam Armstrong. “Many travellers may be waiting for prices to drop, but we recommend securing flights as soon as possible because prices are only going to keep rising.”

It seems travellers are taking longer breaks in 2024, and during these longer breaks they are planning on ticking a few bucket-list countries off the list at once. This travel trend has always been prevalent in Australia and New Zealand given their distance from the rest of the world, but the trend is starting to catch on throughout Europe and the US.

“The bonus to this trend is that it’s better for the environment as they’ll only be doing one or two long trips a year, rather than a handful of shorter ones,” Adam adds, and Contiki’s product team weigh in on this as well: “People want to discover more countries in depth but because of the cost of air fare, we’re seeing travellers linking a couple of countries together like a few trips such as: Best of Spain and Portugal and the 45 day Ultimate European.”

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5 – Asia

Asia is rocketing to the top and on track to experience the same success that Europe did in 2023. Japan was named as the third most popular bucket list destination for 2024 amongst Contiki’s Gen-Z and Millennial audience in our Voice of a Generation survey, and destinations like Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea have become more and more popular. 

Contiki’s product team has seen a boost of 44% in Asia sales from last year, and CEO Adam says that “2024 is going to be a comeback year for the rest of the world. Europe was the first to come back after Covid, but now it’s the turn of the rest of the world, with Asia already rebounding strongly with big growth rates.”

travel to Japan

Image source:Contiki

6 – Train travel

To combat rising airline prices, a return to train travel is in the cards for 2024 travel trends. 64% of Gen-Z and Millennials surveyed in Contiki’s Voice of a Generation questionnaire voted that they would choose trains as their main mode of transportation over flying in a bid for more sustainable travel; continuing on with the trend we’ve seen flourish.

“It’s the return of the Orient Express,” says Natasha Lawrence. “There is increased demand and funding for train travel in Europe because it’s more sustainable, and we’re planning to add in more train routes for 2025 in order to cater for this demand.”

Train travel is growing in Europe for cross-country trips spanning from one end of the continent to the other, and while train travel has always been popular in Asia, it too is growing in this region.

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7 – Safari

With a growing interest in wildlife-centred tours, and more travellers headed to Africa, it’s no surprise that Safari tours are back on the menu! What was once considered a travel style for the “Western elite” (as coined by our product team) is fast becoming far more accessible and “the cost of trips is much more comparable to other destinations.”

The common conception that Safari tours were for older couples has now faded with younger travellers being more interested in spotting the Big 5, as well as visiting local communities and learning more about the vast cultures within.

Image source:Contiki

8 – Bleisure – blending business and leisure

Thanks to remote travel and more and more companies giving their employees work from anywhere allowances, ‘Bleisure’ (that’s business + leisure) is the hottest travel trend taking off, especially in younger demographics who have perfected the art of the work life balance. 

Natasha notes that we’ve had anecdotal evidence Contiki travellers are bringing laptops with them in order to work in departure cities before they kick off. “It’s not traditional bleisure, rather tacking on a few days to a trip to work from a destination, but it’s interesting nonetheless.”

Nick Mueller, Director of Operations for notes that this trend seems to be rising especially amongst Gen-Z. “With the prevalence of remote work, it’s seeming more and more common for people to take off to different destinations to stay for a few days working while also taking time to see the sights and experience a new location. It’s quite an attractive way to travel since it doesn’t necessarily cut into your paid time off allowance.”

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9 – AI Travel

AI has been on the rise for a few years now, especially taking off in 2023 with services such as ChatGPT coming into the mainstream and being accessible to all.

Not only is AI being used by companies themselves, but travellers themselves seem keen on using the tool as well. In our Voice of a Generation survey, travellers were asked whether they’d let AI pick their next holiday destination if given a discount on travel and accommodation. 61% of 18-35s answered yes. Could this be the new way forward?

Shibuya Crossing, Japan

Image source:Contiki

10 – Slow travel

According to Pinterest, the term ‘slow life’ was searched 60% more in 2023, indicating that this new lifestyle may bleed into a new travel style on the rise in 2024. 

“This year, people will plan trips that take it extra slow and help them to catch up on some solid shuteye. Gen-Zs and Millennials will retreat to laid-back locales that offer the opposite of a jam-packed itinerary. Fewer nights out on the town, more lazy mornings in bed.”

Pinterest have coined this rising travel trend as ‘slowcation’ and we are excited to see where this new style takes us.

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11 – Pop-culture travel

Rounding off our list of travel trends is the evergreen trend of pop-culture travel. In 2023 it was more centred around musical pilgrimages to world-famous festivals, and this trend will most likely continue in 2024 especially because of the Eras Tour.

But the ever-steady crowds of TV show and movie fans travelling to discover their favourite filming locations is expected to rise. Guillaume Picard, co-founder and CMO for TourScanner, notes the following: “This is an existing travel trend that we expect to continue and gain in popularity in 2024. We’ve seen recent examples of Emily in Paris and Harry Potter, and Bridgerton tours booming across France and the UK, as well as Avatar tours in Hawaii and Lord of the Rings Tours in New Zealand.”

Indeed, 65% of Contiki travellers responded that they were inspired to travel to certain destinations because of films, and 55% because of TV shows. The most common locations for this film-based pilgrimage are Greece, Italy, Paris, and New York City. And, though a smaller percentage, it’s worth noting that ‘video game’ travel, specifically inspired by Assassin’s Creed, might be on the rise as well…

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