People around the world are feeling more optimistic about travelling in 2023 compared to 2022 and, despite some current instability felt globally, nearly three quarters (72%) report that travelling will always be worth it.
To understand how travel will be reimagined in 2023, Booking.com commissioned extensive research with over 24,000 travellers across 32 countries and territories to reveal seven emerging travel predictions, showing that the needs of travellers are moving in a lot of different directions to adapt to changing times.
1. Saving to splurge
Travellers in Singapore will continue to prioritise travel in 2023, but will be more mindful over how to make the most of their travel budget and what takes precedence. People will still place carefree getaways at the top of their agenda, with 50% of travellers saying that investing in a vacation remains a top priority for them. But being budget conscious is key, with nearly 70% of travellers continuing to spotlight travel while seeking more bang for their buck.
People will plan travel budgets more tightly by taking advantage of deals, hacks and smartly-timed travel (63%) and prioritising value for money with discounts and loyalty programmes (64%). Nearly two-thirds (58%) will look to save money by considering off-season destinations or longer routes on the journey, while the majority (66%) will be planning travel more in advance in the hope of securing a better deal.
About 64% believe the best use of their budget is to opt for one or two longer vacations instead of several short breaks. Within this context, many local travellers are also surprisingly prepared to dial up their spending – and even splurge – on the components of their trip that mean the most to them. More than half (53%) admit that they plan to be more indulgent in their spending habits while on vacation to make up for the lack of travel during the last couple of years, while 50% plan to spend lavishly to ensure they maximise their trip, and every experience is worth it.
2. Glamourising the good ol’ days
Amid global instability and the desire for escapism, people intend to carve out travel experiences that harken back to simpler times, with nostalgic getaways (90%) that provide the thrill of reliving the glory days top of the wish list in 2023. There’s a desire – even for millennials and Gen-Zs who never lived it – to disappear into the romanticism of a pre-digital era, with nearly a quarter (21%) of travellers chasing experiences that evoke (faux) emotive memories of days gone past, such as visiting landmarks or attractions featured in iconic retro films or opting for a bus as a primary mode of transport to live the group spirit of school trips.
Singapore travellers are no longer forfeiting play in favour of rest and relaxation, increasingly seeking the adrenaline rush of theme parks (60%) and activities such as escape rooms, scavenger hunts and building fortresses with giant building blocks. With millennials now the parents of young kids, there will be an increase in destinations previously popular in the 80s and 90s such as Budva in Montenegro, a glam alternative to St Tropez for celebs in the 80s or Bolzano in Italy, popular for its retro Christmas markets – both destinations which feature on the list of 2023 trending destinations.
Millennial travellers will be first to book emerging era-themed accommodation that transport them back to a time they hold close to their hearts and will likely be doing so with family by their side (54%) with ‘family reunion’ multi-generational trips top of the travel agenda in 2023.
3. Preppers in paradise
Camouflaged cabins, campfire cuisine and compasses; going off-grid will never be more sought after than in 2023. Over a third (39%) of Singapore travellers want their travelling experiences to have a more back-to-basics feel, and are looking for ‘off-grid’ style vacations to escape from reality (58%), and switch off and experience life with only the bare necessities (39%). Travellers are also keen to use travel in 2023 as an opportunity to learn survival skills (60%) including how to source clean water (44%), light a fire from scratch (39%), forage for food in the wild (35%) and even prep for an apocalypse (40%).
Expect to see more eco-friendly, earthly stays springing up to accommodate burnt-out city dwellers searching for simplicity, as well as accommodations offering guidance for guests on how to be more self-sufficient, for example, sourcing and preparing their own meals during their stay. An increase in wilderness survival schools where travellers will learn essential skills needed to live through a cataclysmic event are also predicted to pop up around the world.
‘Off-grid’ in 2023 will not necessarily mean roughing it though. There is a common perception that this means giving up luxuries (59%), however there is a strong desire to combine the two with 57% only considering travelling ‘off-grid’ if it can be at a more indulgent stay. However, close to two-thirds (65%) will have a non-negotiable requirement: phone and internet connection at their destination is essential.
4. Virtual voyagers
Half (50%) of Singapore travellers reported that they will be turning to virtual reality next year to inspire their vacation choices, and travel will enter the ever-evolving 3D virtual space of the metaverse in earnest in 2023.
With 39% of travellers keen to embark on a multi-day VR or AR travel experience, the metaverse will be more than ‘try before you buy’; it will educate, entertain, and inspire people, opening the door for infinite adventure. Travellers can experiment with different travel experiences in a year when metaverse worlds will begin replicating and reimaging destinations. Moving beyond 2023, haptic feedback, the use of touch to communicate with users, will make virtual travel a truly immersive experience, delivering a credible sense of 3D touch, such as the feel of soft grains of sand and the warmth of the sun.
Travellers will become bolder in their real-life trip choices, after being able to visit them in the metaverse first via their online avatars – especially handy for those who might feel anxious about trying somewhere new, with 57% more likely to travel to destinations that they would not have previously considered after virtually experiencing them.
While the metaverse will offer a new way to experience travel in the year ahead, it still will not stop people from booking a ticket to their next destination, as 51% believe that a virtual experience is not fulfilling enough to check it off the bucket list.
5. Delight in the discomfort zone
Close to half (48%) of Singapore travellers want to experience complete culture shock in 2023 – be it travelling somewhere with completely different cultural experiences and languages (54%) or exploring lesser-known cities with hidden gems that are not already on the radar (25%). This includes trending destination Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah on the Malaysian island of Borneo, where travellers will be able to immerse themselves in nature, wildlife and the local culture the city offers.
In 2023, 79% of travellers will be looking forward to experiencing out-of-comfort-zone travel that pushes them to the limits, which will result in an influx of niche experiences encouraging people to push their travel escapades to the extreme. Nearly half (49%) are on the hunt for the world’s most exotic delicacy such as the hottest chilli pepper, while 38% want to use their vacation for extra-terrestrial exploration on UFO or alien-spotting tours.
Unsurprisingly, this ‘culture shook’ traveller is also partial to throwing caution to the wind, with 27% wanting to buy a one way ticket in 2023 and follow their instinct wherever it takes them.
6. From daily grind to great company escape
Employees are increasingly keen to preserve vacation time for complete escapism – 70% want their trips to be strictly work free in 2023, and while 51% are not interested in working while away, they would consider clocking in for a company retreat or trip. As such, travelling for business will be back on the agenda in 2023.
However, unlike pre-pandemic times, employees are seeking more opportunities to build team camaraderie in real life, and away from the office, reflecting a growing demand to incorporate work travel with productive play. In fact, 48% of the Singapore workforce is looking forward to their employer planning a ‘real life’ work trip to bring people together and 55% would like to see their employer use the money saved from the shift to remote/hybrid working models spent on corporate travel or retreats.
In response, 2023 will see a rise in destination business retreats where the focus will be on strengthening relationships and corporate recreation rather than work. Employers will gamify the retreat experience and immerse staff in a world where teamwork is the only option. Think survivor-themed trips at luxury cabins or country farmhouses complete with communal cooking and outdoor adventure activities, or crime-centric escapes where spy school, detective courses or CSI simulations double as a sight-seeing scavenger hunt. Businesses stand to see benefits, too – 62% of workers in Singapore believe exploring new places will inspire them to be more productive at work.
7. Peaceful pilgrimages
Seeking to re-centre the mind, meditation and mindfulness getaways are ever popular with Singapore travellers (45%), while 42% aim to find peace at a silent retreat and 39% are keen to go on a health hiatus that focuses on mental health, transformative health or that helps with life milestones such as menopause or pregnancy.
Laura Houldsworth, managing director, Asia-Pacific, Booking.com said: “This year’s travel predictions research shows the undercurrent of intentional paradoxical behaviours that will put us all more comfortably in the driving seat amid relentless instability. It also demonstrates a desire for travel to be a way to seek unapologetic moments of happiness and escapism to counteract the heavy realities of our news feeds.”