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Explore Worldwide looks at five ways the pandemic has changes our travel habits

Monday 20 June 2022

With travel back up and running, and a bumper summer on the horizon, leading small group operator Explore Worldwide shares some booking statistics and insights that show how our travel habits and preferences have changed since 2019. 

Michael Edwards, Managing Director at Explore, said: “adventure travel has come back with such gusto this year. It’s been really interesting digging further into these new bookings, and finding patterns emerging in terms of destinations and types of trips, but also new trends in booking behaviours. The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly influenced the way we holiday – from more European destinations and walking holidays, to a greater percentage of solo travellers, and people booking closer to departure date.”

60% of bookings now from solo travellers
60% of all bookings with Explore this year have been made by solo travellers; with couples and small groups of friends making up most of the rest. Small group holidays are ideal for single travellers – the average size of 12 people means you’ll meet likeminded travellers, but the group is small enough to get in amongst local people and experiences. All the research, organisation and on-trip logistics are done for you, and you’ll be accompanied by a local guide, who knows the destination inside out and can show you beyond the usual highlights. So you can just relax and enjoy the trip!

Explore’s solo travellers aren’t just single people - often one person in a couple will enjoy walking or cycling more than a partner, or they just have different ideas of what their first post-Covid trip will be. While all of Explore’s small group trips are ideal for people travelling on their own, top choices for solos include Jordan Discovery, Costa Rica Wildlife Tour and Amalfi Coast Walking.

More people are travelling slowly, and choosing rail
Travellers have shown greater interest in longer, more immersive holidays that avoid over-touristed spots, explore at a gentler pace and really get under the skin of a destination. New rail tours launched earlier this year by Explore harness this growing demand for rail travel, offering a more sustainable, but also a more authentic way to travel. 

The new London2 Marrakesh by rail tour recreates the romance of rail travel, and the beauty of the journey – seeing Europe transform into Africa in glorious technicolour as you travel slowly, overland, by rail. 

The brand new Fall colours from Montreal to Boston is a slow-paced two-week trip focusing on gentle walks in the National Parks, with some great experiences in less-visited places - like having a French Canadian lunch at a traditional ‘sugar shack’, visiting the gorgeous Abbaye Saint Benoit monastery where the monks run a fromagerie, and joining a student-led tour of Harvard.  In Asia, the slow-paced Thai Island Hopping tour involves catching an overnight train from Bangkok south and island hopping in the Andaman Sea travelling between islands on a ferry, with plenty of free time for relaxation or optional activities. Meanwhile, Walking in Morocco – Atlas to Atlantic is slow paced travel at its best, with gentle walks in the Atlas Foothills visiting local villages away from touristy areas. Explore the beaches and valleys, dotted with fruit orchards and tiny villages, and discover the lively craft markets of Essaouira.

Walking holidays up 55%
Walking is the ultimate slow travel experience, allowing travellers to really get close to their destination on their own two feet. Easy graded walking holidays, and European walking holidays, are the fastest growers, but Explore has holidays for everyone – from gentle strolls in Italy to more strenuous hikes and even mountain summits. 

In Europe, Walking the Azores and Walking in Portugal are both up, whilst longer-haul classic tours like Walking in New Zealand and Walking Jordan’s Spice Trails continue to be very popular.

Travellers are booking closer to departure
In the last four weeks, last minute bookings for this summer are up 23% on the same period in 2019. There are still places available on selected tours for this summer, from family adventures in Turkey and Sri Lanka to walking and cycling holidays in Europe, and classic tours in Botswana and Japan.

People have been waiting until closer to departure pretty much across the board, with even longer haul tours being booked just weeks rather than months out. 

In response, Explore has created a new page displaying trips in departure order with live availability. For more late availability check out chance 

Epic, ‘bucketlist’ adventures are on the up
So far this year, epic long-haul ‘bucketlist’ trips to the Maldives (+50%), Kilimanjaro (+80%) and the Inca Trail (+47%), as well as safari holidays and polar voyages, have booked very strongly. After two years of not travelling, missing celebrations and get-togethers, there’s a definite sense of ‘Carpe Diem’ amongst travellers, who are reluctant to wait any longer to tick off those wishlist trips.

The Maldives is at the top of many bucketlists, and a cruise on a traditional wooden dhoni is the slow way to experience this fabulous destination away from the crowds. On the flip side, challenges like walking the Inca Trail and climbing Kilimanjaro are also on the rise, showing the desire to tick off these iconic achievements. For a special occasion, once-in-a-lifetime trip, the Realm of the Polar Bear in Depth voyage to the Arctic and Spitsbergen offers the best chance for seeing reindeer and polar bear. 

For more media information, interview requests, statistics or images, please contact:
Laura Dewar – / 07725 746 847