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These are biggest travel trends you’ll see in 2024

Our appetite for travelling is as large as ever  (Pietro de Grandi)
Our appetite for travelling is as large as ever (Pietro de Grandi)

A new year lies before us, which means once far-off holiday plans inching ever closer or a clean slate on which to plot adventure. That the last year featured air traffic control chaos, industrial action and weather-related disruption to travel plans can, at the stroke of midnight as the year changes, be forgotten. After all, more than half of Britons plan on taking two or more holidays abroad in the next 12 months, according to data from Compare the Market.

What does 2024 have in store for travellers? Last year, we expected metaverse journeys, sleep pods and a further focus on slow travel. This year, we’re looking at some similar trends – sleep will definitely feature – as well as some newer thoughts.

Here are the trends to keep your eye on this year. Happy travels!

Destination dupes

Swapping the places you know for something new – but similar – is set to influence travel in 2024. It’s a good method for seeking out affordable spots without sacrificing beautiful backdrops (the need for Instagram content isn’t going to disappear, wherever you go…), as well as a way of avoiding overcrowding, especially during high season. It might be ditching overseas travel and finding the domestic equivalent – the Lake District for the Italian Lakes, perhaps – or simply swapping one island for another: swerve the sunset-watching hordes on Santorini for the calm of Paros (without losing the incredible sundown). According to research of over 14,000 travellers’ plans by The Future Laboratory, commissioned by Marriott Bonvoy, the hotel giant’s loyalty programme, more than a quarter of those questioned said they are opting for “dupes” this year. Sound interesting? The Independent’s travel editor, Helen Coffey, has a comprehensive guide on how to swap the busiest destinations for under-the-radar spots in the year ahead.

Fancy a change from Barcelona? Get yourself to Valencia instead (Getty)
Fancy a change from Barcelona? Get yourself to Valencia instead (Getty)

Read more on Europe travel:

Sleep and repeat

You don’t need to be a diagnosed insomniac to desire more sleep – half of the UK population admit they don’t get the optimal seven to eight hours a night. This is despite the health issues that come with such deprivation, including an impact on memory, a weaker immune system and higher blood pressure. All hail the rise of sleep tourism – Booking.com says 58 per cent of travellers get away solely to focus on uninterrupted shut-eye. The growth of sleep concierges and the use of technology to ensure counting sheep pays off is predicted to grow in 2024, along with the “sleep retreat”. One example is a stay at HOTEL de LËN, in northern Italy, which is offering a “regenerative sleep experience” surrounded by nature. Rooms feature a “sleep radiance panel” (which is said to “reorganise energy”) and a tool to reduce high-frequency disturbances. That, plus time in a spa, sounds like a way to improve nocturnal habits; at the very least you’ll be able to make the most of the fresh Dolomites air to tire yourself out before bed.

Travel could be an excuse to reset your sleep cycles (Gregory Pappas)
Travel could be an excuse to reset your sleep cycles (Gregory Pappas)

Keeping it cool

One of the worst portmanteaus is set to dominate holiday travel this year: “coolcaytion”. While foreign jaunts for Brits have long been about chasing the sun and returning home bronzed, the scorching heat of recent years – rising mercury and wildfires blighted Europe in 2023 – will lead to changing habits. Sebastian Ebel, chief executive of the UK’s second biggest tour operator, Tui, warned that extreme weather could send people to cooler spots, and Marriott Bonvoy’s research mirrors that view. More than half said climate change will impact their trip planning, while 56 per cent said that they’d be looking to use their holiday to cool down rather than spending a break jumping from shade to shade. Travel firms say they’ve seen a rise in the popularity of northern Europe (where there are still marvellous shores to relax on), and this trend will also see travellers pushing their escapes into the shoulder season to visit the places they love without the furnace of peak season.

Girls going solo

What was once a niche part of the travel landscape has flourished in recent times, and looks set to expand in 2024. Operators dedicated to women-only trips have more than quadrupled over the past few years, states the latest Lemongrass annual travel trend report, and 64 per cent of travellers worldwide are female. Intrepid Travel, one of the pioneers, is running Women’s Expeditions, where journeys led by female guides “celebrates the spirit of women”. Another brand, Insight Vacations, has introduced Wander Women tours crafted by all-female teams; they say it’s about more than the destination, it’s a “journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and connection”. Catherine Edsell, founder of Cath Adventure, a tour operator specialising in adventure tours for women said: “Such rapid change can only occur in a stripped-back environment where you allow yourself to be touched by nature, and supported by others.”

Cruising – home or away?

Follow in the footsteps of Scott, Shackleton and co on an expedition cruise to Antarctica (EPA)
Follow in the footsteps of Scott, Shackleton and co on an expedition cruise to Antarctica (EPA)

There’s a split on what will be the big trend for holidays at sea – it depends who you talk to. The range of expedition voyages – which allow passengers access to the more remote patches of Earth – is likely to grow, with Akvile Marozaite, CEO of the Expedition Cruise Network (which represents 18 specialist cruise lines) stating that there has been two years of the sector doubling in size. If you’re looking to come face to face with incredible wildlife or explore pristine tundra, Hurtigruten Silversea, Seabourn and Ponant are poised to deliver this year.

At the other end of the spectrum, demand for UK coastal cruises is growing. They attracted major attention during the pandemic out of necessity due to restrictions on overseas travel, but travel agency Iglu Cruise says that interest is still on the rise, jumping 33 per cent over the last 12 months. Tony Andrew, managing director of cruise.co.uk, told The Independent: “Expect holidaymakers to continue to sail around the British Isles, at consistently high levels, as people further realise all the benefits of getaways at sea compared to on land.”

We’ll see which way it goes – but eager sailors will be covered for both home comforts or off-the-grid adventure.

Sporting chance

This year has a bumper schedule for sports, and that is driving travel choices. To use another horrendous portmanteau (sorry) that has unfortunately creeped into holiday talk, sports have become “goccasions” – specific occasions to go to a destination, tagging on some the time to visit some attractions. Millions of visitors will descend on Paris for the Olympic and Paralympic Games from July to September; there have already been warnings of hotel prices shooting up in the French capital. You’ll notice changes in the city, with the Games driving change, from extended Metro links and more cycle lanes to revamped museums (even the water of the Seine should be cleaner). Germany will see a similar boost come June as it hosts Uefa Euro 2024. Host cities can be found in every region, with the final held in Berlin on 14 July. The Formula 1 calendar kicks off in Europe from May, and this year the Tour de France begins in Italy for the first time, with racers setting off from Florence. In between all of the sporting action, there may even be time to see the sights.

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