“GOAT travel”, it’s being called in the industry. No, not sightseeing with the noisy, destructive cousin of sheep. Greatest Of All Trips kinda travel.
People don’t just want to travel anymore, they want experiences. The days of the packaged tour may well be over.
Sure, there will always be those who want the stability of booking into a carefully structured and organized tour. Similarly there are those who prefer to do it by themselves and book into a resort or hotel, then wing it from there.
However after being kept cooped up like battery hens for the best part of two years, more and more people are eyeing epic trips. Travel that will take them into completely different worlds. They want to interact with locals, eat the local food and get onto the path less traveled. Some actually want to get lost, although that would depend on where. Losing your way in the streets of Osaka might be less daunting than in a South American rainforest.
This could be with a special someone, a gang of pals and increasingly – big groups of families.
As a result folks are looking for more customized trips, doing what they want to, when they want. To the traditional tour company this may sound incredibly indulgent. But who cares what a traditional tour company thinks? It’s our money we’re handing over and we want the best possible trips.
For the travel operators who shake their heads and say, “that’s too much effort to plan” there are plenty more just waiting to step in.
So set your sights high and be as selfish as you like.
Here’s what’s different for travelers in 2022 and beyond.
Longer is better
Gone are the week on an island or whirlwind tour of Europe. More and more people want to take the time to really get away. Spending weeks in a location allows you to get a proper feel for the place. You can get out an about when it suits you and do absolutely bugger all on other days.
Longer trips also give the chance to try more local foods and meet more local people. And of course a greater chance of neither remembering or caring what day it is.
AirBnB has copped a massive hit over the past few years but is set to get back on track. Many travelers are likely to opt for more personalized accommodation in private houses and smaller venues, away from crowds.
This is also great news for tourism in regional areas, as people may also tend to shy away from the big cities and big sights. This isn’t just for safety precautions. Traveling to more obscure destinations also allows travelers the chance for authentic experiences with local populations.
Not just Europe, but maybe staying in a Portuguese village or a castle in Croatia. And the more exotic the better.
Destinations like Kenya are an example. Anyone who says poo to a zoo will have imagined seeing the real thing on a Kenyan safari. And why wouldn’t you? With zoos becoming increasingly on the nose with many animal lovers, actually getting up and doing a safari is becoming a real option.
Many who thought “Love to do a safari, but can’t be bothered…” can now be bothered. Tour operators cater for everyone from those who want to rough it to glamping types. And when a family safari might’ve once seemed like too much hard work, it’s now ticking the all-important “experience” boxes.
Some parents figure that their kids may as well see as much of the world as they can.
Don’t forget people – Kenya also has a coastline. That means relaxing on beaches, some of which are among Africa’s most beautiful.
Always wanted to see Machu Pichu or check out the landscapes in Iceland? Maybe it’s time you did. If a Napa Valley wine tour or campervan trip across New Zealand always appealed but seemed too far or tricky…maybe they’re not.
People are also eyeing active travel. Whether it’s a couple, a group of friends or a family, many want to get out and about and get the endorphins flowing.
Cycling tours are a classic example. They not only let you work up a healthy sweat at your own pace but also let you get up close and personal with the destination.
Perhaps you’re cruising along a quiet road in southern Spain. You catch a whiff of something delicious and your stomach starts rumbling. Why not stop here? Another red wine? Don’t mind if I do!
It doesn’t stop at cycling, although these tours obviously allow you to cover the most ground. Hiking, kayaking, yoga and surfing tours are all examples of filling up your days with something meaningful and physical. Then completely spoiling yourself at night.
These kind of tours are best done if customized. The traveler puts their finger on the globe to wherever they want to go and then start planning.
Customized tour companies come into their own here, because they (should) have excellent contacts with local businesses and services. This lets you choose where and how you want to get around and on what days. You can opt for luxury accommodations, tents on beaches and meals for whenever suits you.
Long gone are the tightly-structured tour packages. This is what we’ll do and you can take it or leave it.
Now the customers are speaking, and the travel industry is listening.
It goes something like, this is what we want and if you can’t do it, someone else can.
Aim high folks.