85% of Indian travellers revealed that they feel more alive when they are on vacation and become the best version of themselves when on vacation.
Travel isn’t just an escape like in the past years, but a catalyst for experiencing our best lives in 2024.
As 2023 enters its final month and 2024 optimistically appears on the horizon, people around the world have emotionally checked out of the news agenda and events at home in order to take a much-needed breather. Where in the past years, travel has been a means to escape life, Booking.com latest ‘Travel Predictions’ research shows that travel is life in 2024 with 85% of Indian travellers revealing that they feel more alive when they are on vacation and become the best version of themselves when on vacation.
To explore how travel will transport people out of autopilot and into unleashing their best life, Booking.com commissioned research among more than 27,000 travellers across 33 countries and territories including India, combining it with its insights as a leading digital travel platform to reveal seven predictions for travel in 2024.
- (Alter) Ego EnthusiastsIn 2024, travel enthusiasts are set to embark on a unique journey of self-discovery as ‘Ego Enthusiasts.’ 82% of Indian travellers reported that they enjoy the anonymity of travel and the chance to reinvent themselves, while 63% craft elaborate stories about their real lives to share with fellow travellers. These alter ego enthusiasts are driven by the thrill of embodying a 2.0 version of themselves, all in the pursuit of feeling more alive.Embracing their ‘main character energy,’ 76% revel in being the stars of their own adventures, adopting different personas and shedding inhibitions. Their desire to carry this newfound confidence into their daily lives is evident, with a significant number 81% aspiring to be more like their vacation selves even when they return home. To live out their finest moments with unshakable confidence, a notable group (68%) is even willing to invest in renting a superior car for the journey, turning their travel experiences into a true embodiment of their best selves.
- Cool CationersAs global temperatures continue to rise; travellers are seeking cooler destinations to escape the heat. For the majority (74%), climate change is now a pivotal factor influencing their vacation plans, pushing them towards cooler destinations. 76% of Indian travellers are determined to use their holidays to cool down in places far from the scorching sun.
As this trend gains momentum, it aligns with the growing popularity of water-centric travel in 2024, offering relief from the heat and a chance to wash away worries. A notable 83% of travellers agree that proximity to water instantly induces relaxation, while 38% of Indian travellers express keen interest in water-centric vacations. As travellers embrace these water-centric experiences, a surge in activities like floating yoga, water sound baths and snow meditation can easily be anticipated.
- Surrender SeekersIn 2024, travellers are increasingly inclined to embrace spontaneity and adventure. They are increasingly drawn to the thrill of surprise, willingly surrendering control for a taste of the unknown and the chance to explore uncharted territories. Over 74% of these ‘Surrender Seekers’ are ready to book surprise trips where even the destination remains a mystery until their arrival. They’re rejecting the monotony of everyday life, with 67% opting to venture off the beaten path and more than half (54%) yearning to travel alongside strangers.
Moving away from rigid planning towards spontaneity and serendipity, these surrender seekers live by the motto ‘carpe diem.’ 66% would like to have no plans set in stone prior to travelling so they can go where the wind take them, while 76% embrace loose itineraries, permitting them to change course based on what feels right at the time. Additionally, 70% of Indian travellers trust AI for trip planning, embracing its convenience and flexibility, allowing for cancellations, changes and immediate payment.
- Culinary ExcavatorsIn the travel landscape of 2024, travellers are delving deep into the origins of the food on their vacations to unearth hidden culinary gems. 78% of these intrepid explorers exhibit a heightened interest in unravelling the history and heritage behind a destination’s ‘must-eat’ delicacies. This shift towards gastro-tourism allows them to embrace the unique blend of history, geography and local produce that gives rise to one-of-a-kind cuisine, creating an unforgettable experience. Additionally, Indigenous cuisines are the focal point for a significant 86% of Indian travellers, showcasing a commitment to discovering the culinary treasures of the world and acknowledging the underrepresented.
Foodie travellers in 2024 are not just consumers, they immerse themselves in a blend of digital and real-world experiences to transform their culinary adventures into multi-sensory spectacles. 69% of them seek immersive ‘phygital’ food experiences, enlivened by virtual reality.
- Reboot RetreatersIn a world marked by global instability and relentless chaos, the year 2024 heralds the rise of ‘Reboot Retreaters’ who seek journeys dedicated to self-improvement, a path leading them back to the life they truly desire. 59% of Indian travellers have reported that they’re inclined to carve out time for a matchmaking holiday, to find a spark with a new partner. 53% of travellers opt for heartbreak holidays, providing the healing space needed to overcome past relationships. Surprisingly, parents, eager to find solace, plan to embark on solo journeys, with more than three-quarter (79%) planning to travel solo, dropping their kids and their partners to reclaim their vitality and focus on personal rejuvenation.
Over half of Indian travellers (68%) are drawn to the agrarian and indigenous lifestyle, seeking self-sufficiency and harmony with nature. Also, the sleep tourism trend is emerging, offering specialised retreats with cutting-edge technology to cater for the needs of 68% of Reboot Retreaters who want undisturbed sleep in 2024.
- A La Carte AffluencersIn 2024, travellers will redefine luxury by utilising money-saving strategies and indulging in à la carte luxuries, driven by the cost-of-living crisis and the desire for affluence. They want to level up their holiday experience with à la carte’ luxuries’ but are keen to cut costs. 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 AI. In fact, 76% of Indian travellers will want insights and tips from AI to enhance their experiences with suggested deals and offers.
While 70% of Indian travellers opt to choose destinations in 2024 where the cost of living is more economical than in their hometown, others are drawn to explore closer to home, searching for budget-friendly alternatives that emulate the allure of luxury (66%). Mirroring the affluent, 70% of travellers are willing to invest in day passes for the use of amenities at five-star hotels without committing to a full stay. Simultaneously, parents (71%) plan to take their children out of school to travel outside of peak seasons, ensuring that their budget stretches further and allows for a taste of luxury without excessive costs.
- Mindful AesthetesIn 2024, the worlds of sustainability and style will come together. Comfort and excellent design are no longer just for luxury; many hotels and unique places to stay are finding creative ways to look good while addressing important environmental and social issues. 77% of Indian travellers are actively looking for accommodations that have wow-factor sustainability innovation. The majority of travellers (81%) want to see sustainability in practice and a significant 81% wish to bring nature indoors by having green spaces and plants in their vacation accommodations.
In this evolving landscape, mindful aesthetics play a central role in reshaping travel for the future. Indian travellers embrace technology to curate sustainable itineraries that grant exclusive access to the very places they contribute to preserving, all consciously and responsibly. A substantial number are drawn to sustainable travel apps (83%), where they can unlock rewards such as unique experiences with locals in off-the-beaten-path areas (58%) and the opportunity to explore remote locations typically beyond the reach of tourists (55%).
Santosh Kumar, Country Manager for India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia, Booking.com comments, “Our 2024 travel predictions reflect the idea that travel is not a means to escape life, but instead a catalyst to live our best lives. From thrilling adventures in a new destination to feeling the pulse of a new culture and every experience in between, travel allows us to become the best version of ourselves. At Booking.com, it’s our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world and we believe in the power of travel to inspire, transform and enrich lives and we are committed to empowering extraordinary experiences that resonate with the heartbeat of each and every traveller in 2024 and beyond.”