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8 Travel Trends for 2024

2023 has been a huge year for adventure travel – and Explore Worldwide’s highest-revenue year in its 42-year history. Now the operator’s experienced travel experts are looking ahead to predict how, where and why we’ll be traveling in 2024.
Written by: Laura Dewar - Senior PR and Communications Manager at Explore Worldwide
Published: 27 October 2023

We’ve crunched the numbers, looked into thousands of trips and passengers, analyzed booking patterns and scoped global trends to provide an adventure travel outlook for 2024. From vast, isolated landscapes and epic pilgrimages to the bustle and buzz of the Far East, and from slow, sustainable trips overland to busy vacations with super-chilled beach extensions, here are our top predictions for how our 2024 adventures might look.

1. Transformational trips

Over the last few years, one thing’s been very clear – we want more from our holidays. Rest and relaxation? That’s great, but what else? We want to come home from our long-awaited breaks having experienced something new, having learned something – about the world and about ourselves - or achieved something. We love vacations that combine wellbeing and growth, and Explore’s booking stats back this up. The company’s active vacations are up 29% this year, with walking vacations up a whopping 52% since pre-pandemic.
Walking vacations with particular emphasis on self-reflection and personal growth are selling particularly well, such as the legendary Camino de Santiago, up 20% on 2022, and Inca Trail treks up 40%.    

2. The rebound of Asia!

This time last year, believe it or not, much of Asia was still closed to travelers. Over the last six months, Asian destinations have been experiencing a rebound.

Explore’s Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Luke Judd reports a 98% increase in traffic to India trip webpages in 2023 v 2022. Meanwhile Cambodia (+76%), Vietnam (+82%) and Thailand (+60%) have also seen a huge spike in popularity.  New to the company’s portfolio for 2024 are Japan’s Sapporo Festival and China, back after a few years’ hiatus.   

3. Undertourism

Escaping the crowds and visiting more remote, esoteric destinations holds greater appeal than ever. Destinations like Namibia (49% up), Romania (up 103%) and New Zealand (up 69%) are seeing big growth this year, while trips to Mongolia and Guyana have more than doubled, albeit on smaller numbers.
Explore focuses on doing things a little differently to most, and its expert product team are always looking for new destinations for adventure travel, or new ways to take in old favorites. Choose to cycle between the major temples of Angkor Wat while 99% of visitors travel by bus, thus avoiding other vacation makers and getting much closer to the jungle and local life along the way.
Or choose Croatia’s pristine Brac island over trendy Hvar for an equally blissful beach experience away from the crowds. Take in Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca by all means, but don’t miss the festivities in Guatemala which are incredibly vibrant but usually only frequented by locals.
New for 2024 is Tunisia – as the first small group operator back into Tunisia, Explore offers a different, quieter take on the country avoiding the mass tourism of the coast. Meanwhile a new family vacation to Albania showcases a stunning, quieter European alternative to Greece or Croatia.

4. Priorities shift – value, not cost

New research* from Explore Worldwide shows that what we value most about our vacation and leisure time is changing, with cost (9%) coming out lowest when it comes to what we value most. Right at the top of our priority list is spending quality time with family and friends (more than a quarter of us value this highest, even above cost and trying new activities), followed by making memories that last a lifetime (20%). 

Head of Business Intelligence for Explore, David Bray says: “we’ve always benchmarked our trips, working really hard to ensure we’re very competitive not just on price but on the experiences and inclusions of our trips, so that our customers get fantastic value.”
Check out 9.5 Questions to Ask Your Small Group Vacation Operator before you book to ensure you get the right trip, at the right price, for you.


5. The e-bike revolution

E bike snobbery is so 2019! An electric bike can be a fantastic introduction to cycling vacations, and enable cyclists to take on more challenging terrains than they’d usually choose, from rolling vineyards to steeper mountain climbs. Use the support of the bike’s built-in motor to give you an extra boost, or choose to go under your own steam – with an ebike, you can do a bit of both. Ebike options are now available on almost every Explore cycling trip – the latest trip to have a new ebike option is Cycle Mexico.
Need more convincing? Explore has compiled a few more reasons to try an e-bike on your cycling vacation in this blogpost. 

6. Overland travel

Sustainable travel is no longer a trend. It’s an imperative way to ensure we can protect our planet and continue to enjoy the world.

Since calculating and displaying carbon footprints for all its trips in early 2022, Explore has been working hard to drive down its carbon footprint, with a target of 7% reduction for this year. The company’s Product Team has been making changes across the board, working in collaboration with higher-carbon suppliers to make greener choices. Sustainability specialist at Explore, Hannah Methven, says:“this year we’ve added a new rail journey in Laos and relaunched an Azores walking tour with two domestic flights removed. We’ve also introduced a brand new foodie trip to Bordeaux that includes several train trips (and indeed can easily be reached by train) and e-vehicles. These are just a few changes that not only help lower our carbon footprint, but add to the authenticity and enjoyment of the experience”.

Another year of innovations in this space have led to Explore being named Sustainable Travel Company of the Year 2023 in the recent Travel Industry Awards by TTG.

7. Chill-venture

We know that, due to financial and environmental concerns, many people are taking fewer overseas trips each year, but they are making them count – travelling for longer, and taking time to really get under the skin of their destination – as well as building in time to really switch off. Travelers are packing in a lot to their precious trips when they do happen - culture, experiences, action, and then – increasingly – building in some chill time. Explore has noted an increase of 81% in booking pre or post trip extensions this year. Popular extensions include a four-night Zanzibar island extension for some beach time after a busy Tanzanian safari with early morning game drives and evening wildlife walks, and a three-night Peruvian Amazon extension to discover the rainforest and incredible wildlife from a comfortable lodge – perfect after walking the Inca Trail.

8. Booking early to secure today’s price

Since the Covid pandemic, vacation makers have been booking trips closer and closer to their departure. What started as a game of ‘wait and see’ on which countries would be open and which trips operating, became a more reactive response to vacation deals and reduced inclination to put off till tomorrow what can be done now – see Explore’s 2023 trends of ‘Carpe Diem travel’. Last year, the average span between booking and travelling on an Explore trip was on average two weeks shorter than 2019. However, as inflation really starts to bite, booking periods look set to get longer again as travelers lock in their 2024 trips to secure current pricing. On bookings for 2024, Explore has already reported a 20% increase in booking lead time compared with the same period last year.
Bray says “booking early seems an increasingly popular option for those that want to plan their outgoings ahead of time. Once your Explore booking is confirmed the advertised price is guarantee, whatever the circumstances – so travelers can rest assured that any subsequent surcharges for fuel, currency etc will be covered by Explore.”
*Explore surveyed 2,006 nationally representative UK respondents (aged 16+) via Opinion Matters between 18.08.2023 - 21.08.2023. Opinion Matters abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

For more information, contact Explore’s PR Coordinator Caroline Hook, or Senior PR & Communications Manager Laura Dewar,
About Explore: Explore has over 40 years’ experience in creating expert-led small group tours all over the world. Tours that are all about getting under the skin of your destination: making friends, treading lightly, and being mindful of local communities. With more than 350 trips in 100 countries, the company offers everything from classic cultural vacations and wildlife safaris to walking and cycling trips, family adventures and even polar expeditions. 

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