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Monday, December 11, 2023

Wanderlust Into Our Best Life on Budget: Booking.com’s research unveils what Thais are Thinking and Prioritizing for Travel in 2024

As 2023 enters its final months and 2024 appears on the horizon, numbness and detachment loom as a result of the perma-crisis, including rising living costs and concerns about climate change. People all over the world have emotionally withdrawn from the news agenda and domestic events in order to take a much-needed break.

Whereas in the past, travel was a way to escape life, Booking.com research shows that in 2024, travel is life, with 89% of Thai travelers and (78% of global travelers) revealing that they feel more alive than ever when they are on vacation, and 88% believe they are their best selves while on vacation. Booking.com commissioned Travel Predictions 2024 research among travelers around the world combining with its insight to uncover what Thai travelers are thinking and prioritizing for traveling in next year.

  1. (Alter) Ego Enthusiasts

In 2024, travelers will feel more alive by creating their very own epic alter egos on vacation. Fueling the idea that people take on different personas when traveling to feel more alive, over two thirds (88%) feel they are the best version of themselves on vacation, able to shed inhibitions and embrace new aspects of their personalities.

  • 74% make up stories about their real life to people they meet on their travels.
  • 78% enjoy the anonymity of travel and the chance to recreate themselves.
  • 59% would even pay to rent a nicer car than they drive at home to live their finest lives with confidence.
  • 69% feel ‘main character energy’ on their travels, with these performers empowered to be the stars of their own life.

Avatars and aliases abound, both in real life and through VR and AR. Those digital alter egos with wanderlust can go anywhere and do anything in the metaverse, and in 2024, their digital fantasies will be brought to life in real-world destinations.

  1. Cool-cationers

Sweltering conditions and heat waves around the world are fueling an increase in travelers seeking cooler climes to rejuvenate and refresh themselves. This effect taps into the expected rise of water-centric travel that takes the edge off the heat, and helps people wash away their worries.

  • 78% report that climate change will impact the way they plan their vacation in 2024.
  • 75% say that as temperatures soar close to home, they will use their vacation to cool down elsewhere.
  • 84% agree that being close to water instantly makes them feel more relaxed, with 40% interested in water-centric vacations in 2024.

As people dive headfirst into aquatic escapes, mindful water immersion will quickly become the next mainstream version of meditation. Floating yoga, water sound baths, and snow meditation will see a surge, as will ice therapy retreats, underwater hotels, and mermania, with water no longer serving as a backdrop but as the main event. 

  1. Surrender Seekers

Travelers increasingly want to surrender themselves to the element of surprise, explore the unknown and venture into uncharted territory on vacation. Averse to the ‘sameness’ of everyday life and actively avoiding cookie-cutter experiences, the intuitively adventurous traveler of 2024 wants to step outside of the homogenized vacation.

  • 61% keen to book a surprise trip where everything down to the destination is unknown until arrival.
  • 76% prefer to venture off the beaten path and 53% seek to travel with strangers.
  • 67% would like to have no plans set in stone prior to traveling in 2024 so they can go where the wind takes them.
  • 82% prefer to travel with loose plans so they can change direction based on what feels good in the moment.

The travel industry is already responding fast with tech-enabled flexible services, giving travelers the option to cancel, change plans, and buy now, pay later at the press of a button.

  1. Culinary Excavators

The food archeologists of 2024 will dig deep into the roots of food on vacation to unearth new culinary treasures. Culinary excavators are defying next-generation food trends in favor of preserving the true craftsmanship of traditional dishes; relying on gastro-tourism to embrace the unique history, geography, and produce that makes for one-of-a-kind cuisine that will awaken the senses and take travelers on trails that tell the story behind the food they serve, bringing pride and income to communities worldwide.

  • 78% have more interest in learning about the origins of a destination’s ‘must-eat’ delicacies than they were in the past.
  • 92% want to try indigenous cuisines in 2024, and heritage flavors are in the spotlight with travelers putting power in the hands of the under-represented, unlocking the secrets of cultures which may have been lost or forgotten in other parts of the world. 
  1. Reboot Retreaters 

When things at home are falling apart due to global instability and an ever-changing world, disheveled travelers are booking one-track trips rooted in self-improvement to get back to the life they truly desire. Beyond just getting back to basics, the emphasis is on finding a better balance with nature and the elements in order to reset their day-to-day back home. Here are some interesting trends:

  • The new era of sleep tourism, for example, welcomes sleep concierges and cutting-edge tech to serve the 75% who want to travel in 2024 to solely focus on uninterrupted shut-eye.
  • 59% would carve out time for a matchmaking holiday to find a spark with a new partner or lover.
  • 54% would focus on a heartbreak holiday to get over an ex. On the contrary, for those still rocking their relationships, with 13% wanting to deepen that human connection with their partner as their main priority for traveling.
  • For those increasingly frazzled parents, they are surprisingly seeking solace on completely solo holidays, with 76% planning to travel alone in 2024, dropping the kids and their partners to prioritize their vitality. 
  1. A La Carte Affluencers

Fueled by the cost of living crisis alongside the mainstream stealth wealth trends of 2023, travelers in 2024 will employ money saving hacks to cut costs, yet level up vacations with ‘à la carte’ luxuries, scoring a rush from traveling like the rich – even if just for a moment in time.

  • 64% plan to pick destinations in 2024 where the cost of living is less expensive than their hometown,
  • 64% say traveling closer to home is also a draw for themselves as they are searching for luxe-for-less copycat vacations to reduce costs.
  • 65% will be willing to pay for day passes to use the amenities in a five star hotel rather than actually staying there
  • 65% plan to take their children out of school to travel outside of peak season to make their money stretch further in 2024.

These à la carte ‘affluencers’ want to appear wealthy, sweeping away the reality of having to make financial sacrifices, but behind the scenes are obsessed with see-through spending and curating budget-friendly travel itineraries with the help of their travel partner in crime, AI. In fact, 75% of Thai travelers will want insights and tips from AI when on vacation to upgrade experiences with suggested ancillaries and deals, all with a flick of their finger.  

  1. Mindful Aesthetes

In 2024, a new era dawns for sustainable and stylish travel. The fusion of design and mindfulness is reshaping the way we explore, allowing conscious choices to become a way of life, not just a brief escape. These travelers seek eco-conscious architecture and bring the vacation vibe home, fostering a deeper connection with the environment and local communities. It’s travel with purpose, redefining how we explore and protect our world.

  • 78% are looking for accommodation that has wow-factor sustainability innovation.
  • 83% want to see sustainability in action, while 65% want to see the outside brought indoors with green spaces and plants in accommodations on vacation.
  • A large number are interested in sustainable travel apps where they can unlock rewards (84%), such as experiences with locals in off-the-beaten-path areas (47%) or visiting remote locations that tourists otherwise have limited access to (44%).

Michelle Gao, Regional Manager, Mekong Region, at Booking.com said “In 2024, our travel predictions are all about embracing the belief that travel isn’t just an escape from life; it’s a way to truly live our best lives. Whether it’s the excitement of exploring new destinations, immersing ourselves in different cultures, or savoring every unique experience, travel has the incredible power to help us become the best versions of ourselves. At Booking.com, our mission is to make it easier for everyone to find their unique travel bliss in a more personalized and connected way. We are dedicated to empowering extraordinary experiences that resonate with the heartbeats of travelers around the world in 2024 and beyond.”

For a deeper dive into Booking.com’s travel predictions for 2024, visit https://www.booking.com/c/trends/travelpredictions2024.html, or download the Travel Predictions 2024 report through our newsroom.

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