We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do keep our finger on the pulse of travel nation, and we’ve been noticing some expected travel trends for 2023 that we’d like to share.
Some of these are based on our decades of experience in travel, including following rough travel periods like post-9/11 and during the 2006 recession. Others are based on what we’re hearing from travel colleagues: other tour operators, the airlines, and our friends in the tourism bureaus. Still others are based on economic forecasts and what we’ve been reading in the news.
2023 Travel Trends
1. Good-Bye Cookie Cutter, Hello Unique, Custom-Made Experiences
Travel is definitely back, and we and our colleagues have noticed an uptick in requests for unique, custom-made experiences. They are often (but not always) luxury experiences, dream vacations in which our travelers decide to go for it and have everything they want in a trip.
Some requests are more modest, but still customized to provide a unique trip just for those particular travelers. Part of the focus on this uniqueness is travelers seeking a sense of place, an understanding of the local microcosm of a destination: from its people, to its food, to its ecology.
Fortunately, this is the type of experience we already offered, so for us there has been no transition needed to meet this trend. For other operators offering larger, more generic luxury experiences, there has been some tweaking needed. And even for us, the number of completely custom requests has far exceeded what we have seen in the past.
2. Nature, Nature, Nature: Outdoor Experiences and Sustainability
Another travel trend we’re already seeing for 2023 is a focus on outdoor experiences and sustainability. These are perhaps not related: there is nothing that says a client interested in sustainable travel has to want outdoor experiences instead of more urban destinations.
In terms of sustainability: it is no great surprise that in the face of climate change and the frequent string of weather and climate disasters we’ve been seeing in the past year that conscientious travelers are asking how they can reduce their carbon footprint while traveling. We wont’ lie: this is something we need to improve on. While some of our partners already have a focus on sustainability, we know that we can use our influence to push our other partners to find ways to waste less and save resources.
For most of our travelers, there is no getting around an overseas flight. But we can encourage travelers to choose airlines that are trying to reduce their climate impact. (Of those that fly to Europe, KLM, Delta, and American were recently listed among “green” options.)
We can explain to travelers that instead of a private car and driver, they might sometimes be on a train, or sharing a transfer with other travelers. We understand the desire for convenience and comfort on a vacation, and feel our travelers deserve it! But travel trends suggest that our travelers are willing to make some small changes to reduce the carbon imprint of their trip. If you are interested in planning a trip with a mind toward sustainability, please let us know and we’ll work with you to minimize the environmental impact of your trip.
3. Bring the Family
To quote one of my favorite John Hyatt albums, another travel trend is to “bring the family.” I love taking my kids on culinary vacations when I travel, and we have long had a Family Friendly category of tours, but travel tends are pointing toward multi-generational trips. it’s the best type of family reunion, and many of our destinations have something for everyone.
We even have trips where you can take over the whole property for as few as 4-6 people, or as many as 20-25. So contact your kids, your grandkids, your sisters and cousins and start planning.
4. Smaller Book-to-Travel Windows
We have already been noticing much smaller book-to-travel windows in 2022, and we expect that to continue in 2023.
What does this mean? Basically planning last minute. While we do have some travelers plan a year or more in advance, one thing COVID-19 taught us was that planning can be difficult and unpredictable during a pandemic. People got used to not making plans at all, or to making them on the fly. The shortest turn around we’ve done this year for international trips has been a few days. It’s not easy, but we can do it! So if you find a cheap ticket to Paris, Athens, or Rome, contact us!
5. Take What You Can Get?
If you do wait to plan your trip, you will have to deal with our last 2023 travel trend: limited availability. There has been a surge in demand as pent-up travelers have finally been able to go abroad. The global tourism recovery is ongoing, and it has led to staffing and availability issues when demand has surpassed supply. Think of it as travel inflation. This means that in particular the most popular destinations–like Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast–are likely to sell out for much of the year.
If you are flexible on where to travel, we can find you an amazing trip. But if your heart is set on a certain destination, the earlier you plan, the better.
Does this increase in demand mean rates will be higher next year? Likely. Inflation is everywhere, and hotels, restaurants, and destination management companies have to offer competitive salaries to hire back all the furloughed staff. Add to that the fact that travel professionals were so desperate ahem, eager for any sort of business at all during the pandemic that prices were kept unnaturally low. At some point that has to end, and prices will need to stabilize.
4 Top Destinations for 2023
What is the travel world saying will be popular destinations for 2023? Without trying to be too bold in our predictions, these are shaping up to be the most coveted spots:
This is perhaps the easiest one to predict. It is always one of the most popular destinations among our culinary travelers, and we expect that to continue in 2023. Italy offers the perfect mix of great food and wine, amazing art and cultural sites, ancient ruins, friendly people, and good weather. What else could you possibly ask for?
Browse all our Cooking Vacations in Italy.
Although Greece is always one of our favorite spots, we have found it to be even more popular in 2022, and we expect that to continue in 2023. Whether you want to visit the bustling city of Athens or spend time relaxing on a Greek Island (or both!), Greece is shaping up to be one of 2023’s hottest tickets.
See all our Cooking Vacations in Greece.
This small nation of Portugal has become increasingly popular among culinary travelers. It is surprisingly affordable and offers a truly diverse topography in a small area. For this reason, you can see a lot of different and amazing things in just a week’s time. From the seaside to the castles, from the gnarly oaks of the interior to the winding hills of Porto, there is something for everyone in Portugal. It is a place our travelers are frequently surprised by, and one they like to go back to again and again.
Check out our Portugal Cooking Vacations.
The only non-European destination on our list, Peru is predicted to be one of the most popular destinations for 2023. For many of our repeat travelers in particular, Peru is a wish-list spot that it is finally time to visit. It is considered to have some of the best cuisine in the world, and its gorgeous vistas and friendly people make it a top spot for our 2023 culinary travelers.
We are working on new Peru itineraries, but in the meantime, check out our Peru Cooking Vacations.
Of course, these are only 4 of the top destinations. France and Spain are two favorites as well, and Morocco, Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Israel, and Turkey are also sure to see a jump in popularity as people finally take to the skies again.
But one thing is for certain. Whichever destination you choose, whichever travel trend proves to be correct: travel is definitely back with a bang.
By Peg Kern
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