This month we’re bringing out the old crystal ball and looking into the future for answers: what will the upcoming year bring to the world of travel? From the latest trends to the biggest destinations, here's what the ball had to say...
Rise Of The Culinary Holiday
If you think back on life in 1990s, cooking shows were aired at eleven o’clock in the morning, in-between East Enders reruns and infomercials. Processed food was the modus operandi in middle-class households and nobody questioned what was in Vienna Sausages. But over the last two decades, people have become more aware of what they’re eating and how it affects their lifestyle. Farmers' Markets have taken off with this new shift towards eating fresh, organic food that isn't treated with chemicals or grown in a laboratory. Besides the health benefits of eating right, food is high-fashion right now: chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and Heston Blumenthal are fully-fledged celebrities. And this has rapidly bled into the world of travel. People are heading abroad with the intention of learning to make the local cuisine, rather than simply ordering it in restaurants. Cooking courses are springing up all over the world, offering tourists traditional expertise on how to make wholesome, local cuisine.
Anika Patel, from Flavours of France, set up her business after seeing a growing demand for cooking holidays.“To learn to master a cuisine and to discover the relationship between the food and the people on your travels is a unique experience", she said when asked about why this is such a growing trend in travel. “Culinary travel allows people to appreciate the local culture on a deeper level through learning about the food and wine. A cooking holiday ties in with the idea of people wanting to learn about a local culture, come away with life-long skills and gain knowledge that you are unable to find online or in a guide book.” The world is an open book again. In 2013, expect a great number of culinary breaks to emerge, both locally and internationally. France, Morocco, India, Ethiopia, Thailand are suddenly destinations with a whole new dimension to them.
For a list of Anika's tours in France, follow the link to www.flavoursoffrance.com.
Desirable Destination: Myanmar
At the start of 2012, Myanmar - old Burma - was touted as one of the best places for independent travel. It might seem like we're a bit late to be calling it one of the biggest destinations of the upcoming year, but it takes a while for people to warm up to a country that was in turmoil until 2010. Well that's over now, and after a crowd of hard-core travelers have come back with amazing stories, we can expect Myanmar to see a bigger showing of travelers. It's an old country that has been frozen in time for half a century because of international sanctions placed on it during the worst times of its history. There are no fancy frills or luxury hotels, but ancient Buddhist temples and pagodas stand as they did centuries ago (see Bagan for an amazing example). Its neighbours - Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia - are not far away. It's a short trip to this reborn gem of South East Asia, and the excitement of travelling somewhere that isn't overly commercialised yet it might turn it into that exact animal soon - so you best get there.
Trip Type: Babymoons
Babymoons are the new craze for DINKY (Double Income No Kids Yet) couples. The idea is pretty smart and simple: expecting-parents head out to a resort or country house for a touch of quiet time in the countryside, before the hustle and rush of parenthood begins. There are some parameters to consider though: you can fly and travel while pregnant, but it does require a doctor’s evaluation, so it'll most likely be local destinations with spa facilities, wholesome menus and duck ponds to walk around in the afternoon. Obviously Ibiza and Vegas probably won't be experiencing an influx of Babymooners. It's more for quiet, countryside venues. Lodges, spas, resorts and guesthouses offer a new range of pregnancy packages for couples, which include pre- and post-natal classes, pregnant-friendly exercises and a food menu to make you and your baby feel ready to take on the world. According to the editors at Visit England "Babymoons are set to boom in 2013 as parents-to-be relax and recharge, enjoying their time together before two becomes three”. And with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announcing their little one on the way, you can bet there will be a few Baby Wills and Kates in 2013.
A Union: Package Holidays Meets Independent Travel
Package holidays, like all-inclusive resorts and cruises, have taken a beating over the last few years. The recession sticking its long, cold fingers into everybody's pockets has made people weary of booking lavish holidays that require a payment upfront. That hasn't stopped people from travelling though. One of the biggest trends of 2010, during the height of the global financial crisis, was an increase in minimalist, independently organised holidays. No agents, no flashy frills, no resorts - just the basics.
While the economy will still be riding a mechanical bull in 2013, things are stabilising slowly - even if it just means that people are learning to make less money stretch further. 2013 will see a stream of high-value, low-cost package deals on offer to those looking to book ahead of schedule, as well as more people getting comfortable with the idea of spending money again. Packages are an insurable expense and travellers are aware of the total cost from the start. But things won't simply go back to how they used to be. Average travellers are more savvy and aware of areas where they can save and find better deals on their own. We expect to see a huge percentage of extras that were previously taken care of by travel agents - car hire, attraction tickets, travel insurance, airport hotels - being organised independently. This has been a growing trend over the last few years, but in 2013 it should go from being a trade secret to common knowledge.
Travel In The UK: A Celebration Of English Culture And History
2013 is a big year for celebrating cultural and historical figures in UK history. The first milestone is the bicentenary anniversary of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. Celebrations at the Jane Austin House Museum, Hampshire, will be running throughout the year and include an exhibition, writing workshops, a cultural evening and more. This year is also the centenary anniversary of Benjamin Britten, “the world’s most-performed opera composer born in the 20th century”. Britten 100 is the unprecedented celebration of the Suffolk-born composer's work, which includes everything from operas based on the work of Shakespeare and Thomas Mann to ballets, orchestral pieces and more than I'm qualified to speak about. The big event of Britten 100 is the new staging of Gloriana - almost 60 years to the day, it was first performed in celebration of the Queen's Coronation at the Royal Opera House.
From great figures in art to one of the greatest figures in crime, 2013 marks 125 years since Jack the Ripper turned the streets of East London into his sick playground. “Following on from 2012’s 400th anniversary of the Lancashire Witch Trials and the opening of the Blackpool Dungeons, interest in England’s murky past is only increasing. Visitors with a brave disposition can try a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour of Spitalfields and Petticoat Lane, Brit Movie Tours' popular Gangster London Tour, a two-hour trip into London’s criminal underworld led by Stephen Marcus (better-known as "Nick the Greek" in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) or join in a re-enactment of the War of the Roses at Bosworth Battlefield", reports VisitBritain.
Retail Holidays For BRIC Countries
What goes down in one country goes up in another. While Europe's financial outlook isn't amazing, Brazil, Russia, India and China (known as the BRIC countries) are experiencing a massive economic growth spurt. Peter Myers, Business Travel Editor for Reuters, reckons that holiday-makers from the BRIC countries are “expected to flock to European cities to splurge on luxury goods”. Beyond Europe, the new range of Super Mall Hotels in Dubai, Qatar and Lebanon are making retail holidays a big hit for travellers from the BRIC nations and beyond.
The combination of volunteer work and tourism spawned a new travel category, nicknamed "voluntourism" as far back as the 50s and 60s. But in recent years this field of tourism has broadened and diversified, now catering to every cause, country and traveller. We can break it down into four main categories, but it's really a far more diverse topic that is set to blow up in 2013.
Voluntour exchange: This operates in much the same way that backpacker resorts do. Ski resorts offer free accommodation to travellers who are prepared to volunteer at a local YMCA or another shelter, or a national park will exchange volunteer hours on its trails for free accommodation nearby.
Voluntour Packages: These are pre-paid packages to a specific country for a specific cause, usually done in close association with a local charity. Popular destinations include Zambia, Thailand, India and Australia. The work of a 'voluntourist' ranges from general maintenance to teaching and care-giving at schools, orphanages, hospitals, animal shelters and homes for the elderly.
There is classic voluntourism, which is more humanitarian-based. This includes relief work in a place affected by a natural or man-made disaster - think of Thailand after the tsunami and Haiti after the earthquake. In all fairness, I think this type of travel should be elevated above a 'trend'.
2013 also sees a new push for luxury volunturism, which combines philanthropy with the fixings of a VIP holiday. By day you feed the baby elephants, by night you sip cocktails around the plunge pool. It sounds like something from a reality show starring Paris Hilton.
The World Goes Online For Everything
According to thesocialskinny.com, the United Kingdom has the highest percentage of online users per capita in the world. The figure thrown out is 53 million users, amounting to 85% of the total population. Anyway, you don't need stats to show you what everyone already knows: people are spending more time online than ever before. Just look around you the next time you're at a coffee shop - everyone is plugged into a laptop, a smartphone or a tablet. And that doesn't always slow down when people go on holiday. Stand by for the biggest year of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter the world has ever seen - what goes on on holiday will rarely stay on holiday in 2013.
Aside from our personal and social use, the Internet has become the largest platform for businesses to stay in contact with consumers. With so much of our attention focussed on the Internet, it makes sense for travel providers to put the bulk of their sales and customer services infrastructure online, where people will stand more chance of seeing what's available to them. 2013 will see a fresh boost of business-to-consumer activity played out through social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. This was something that started a while back and has been steadily growing over the years.
Inner and Outer Health Holidays
We've already touched on the worldwide shift towards better eating habits. At the same time, people are showing more interest in living better too. In the early 90s, the closest people got to Far Eastern culture was having a Chinese symbol tattooed on their lower-back. These days, disciplines like yoga, pilates and transcendental meditation are fairly commonplace - anyone with a gym contract can take a number of classes. A growing demand for spas and resorts that offer detox programmes and inner-healing practices has led to new travel opportunities. In 2013, we'll see more people heading to Sri Lanka and India for holidays that nurture their interest in healthy, spiritual disciplines, and result in sweat beads of calm energy and washboard abs at the same time.
The Northern Lights: Best In 50 Years
NASA, the global authority on everything otherworldly, are saying that 2013 is going to produce the most spectacular conditions for viewing the Northern Lights in 50 years. The best time to see this started in September 2012, but with the atmosphere in its current state, the aurora borealis will be looking its best until as late as April 2013. If you haven't booked already, sight-seeing packages to Sweden, Norway and Finland are still flying off the shelves. The closer to the end of winter it gets, the lower the prices will go - unfortunately it will also mean that your chances of seeing the lights decreases. If you do miss out, somebody trendy will have uploaded pictures on Instagram for you to look at.
Last Updated: January 2013