Fuel your wanderlust with the travel trends that’ll set the course for how you spend your downtime in 2018
For the last couple of years, travel has been dominated by the mad dash to be the first to grab the ideal Instagram pic. Thankfully, 2018’s travel trends point to a general slowdown of the travel experience – savouring instead of collecting experiences in pictures that you’ll barely have time to look over back at home.
‘I believe that we’ll see more South Africans looking for more unique holiday experiences,’ says Olivier Hannaert, MD of Club Med Southern Africa. ‘Whether it’s heading off on a snow holiday for skiing or snowboarding, choosing a golfing holiday to some of the world’s most breathtaking golf courses, or planning a family trip offering the best of both the city and the sea, we will be looking for diversity and something new.’
Hannaert says that the days of one-size-fits-all holidays are over. Experiences now need to be tailor-made. ‘There should be a world of options available for South Africans to choose from, and it’s up to travel suppliers to satisfy the requirements of just about everyone: individuals, couples, families, newlyweds, those who love to socialise, those who love to be alone, those who want me-time or those who want to spend time with family.’
Anyone who’s done a taxi-airport-flight-taxi-hotel-sightseeing-sightseeing-sightseeing-hotel-taxi-airport-flight-taxi-home holiday will agree that, more often than not, they leave you feeling like you need a holiday to recover from your holiday.
Trends in 2018 point to slowing travel down, experiencing the actual magic of getting from one point to the next and taking the time to enjoy your destination. Train-based tourism is on the rise, internationally, with Europe, India and North America particularly well equipped to get individuals or groups from A to B without getting out of breath. Trains aren’t the fastest or most efficient way to get to where you need to go, but taking a rail trip turns the journey itself into an experience where you’ll get to take in the scenery, delve into some history or just enjoy the opportunity to be soothed to sleep each night by the rhythmic movement of the carriage.
Cruises are another way to recapture the old-world glamour of travel. Take a short local jaunt to a Mozambican island or enjoy a multi-port tour on a massive ocean liner and experience the amazing onboard facilities: from fine dining and viewing the planetarium on Queen Mary 2 to the mad on-deck electric buggy racetrack offered by US operator Norwegian Cruise Line. In Europe, there’s also been a surge in the popularity of river cruises, taking in an array of historic routes.
If the idea of being confined to a floating city sounds like too much, then take a walking holiday in Wales or the lower Alps, or perhaps a scenic cycling holiday through Burgundy. There are more than enough operators offering everything from beginners’ packages to slackpacking and bike tours for those with Tour de France pretensions. Bonus: these are about the greenest holidays you can take!
For a holiday that produces quality time all-round, it’s hard to beat the emerging trend of ‘skip-gen’ travel, where grandparents and grandchildren travel together. Double bonus: mom and dad get a break – or even a holiday of their own – while the elders and the kids get to spend quality time together.
The chance to visit the places where your grandparents grew up is a massive opportunity to learn more about them – and for them to relive a bit of their youth. If the grandchildren are slightly older, they can always head off for a bit of alternative entertainment in the evenings, while gran and granddad also get some time together.
‘Exotic’ doesn’t have to mean palm trees and white sandy beaches. With a rise in the desire for authentic travel, more and more people are turning to places that they wouldn’t ordinarily have considered as holiday destinations – or seeking alternatives to overcrowded tourist spots that can offer similar, if not better, experiences.
Instead of joining queues in Croatia and Greece, why not try Cyprus? Tuscany is a bucket-list destination for food and wine lovers, but what about Moldova, where you can visit the world’s largest wine cellar? South America is largely unexplored by South Africans – but with affordable direct flights and (by and large) no visas required, why not try Suriname or French Guiana, between Brazil and Venezuela?
If you like super-efficient public transport, beautiful scenery, stunning history and some of the best food in the world, why not try Japan? And Indonesia is made up of hundreds of islands – you don’t always have to make a beeline for Bali…
Rethink Travel Agents
Association of Southern African Travel Agents CEO Otto de Vries says that the days of a travel agent simply booking a flight and hotel for a traveller are no more.
‘Today’s travel agent is, in fact, a travel consultant – a highly skilled professional who assists business and leisure travellers in wading through the plethora of information about travel on the internet and provides an end-to-end service so that they can travel with peace of mind,’ he says. ‘Consumers have begun to realise that do-it-yourself travel is not necessarily cheaper and that there is no recourse if anything goes wrong. Today’s travel agent has the supplier contacts, destination and travel-product expertise, and technological backing to make travel seamless, pleasant and comfortable, from planning a trip to getting you home safely.’
Hannaert agrees: ‘South Africans also have limited annual leave days available to them, so more people are looking at ways to be smarter in how they maximise their holiday time. Again, they will rely heavily on the expertise and guidance of travel specialists.’
So why not check in with a travel agent when planning your next trip? If you can find a specialist in the country or experience you’re looking to enjoy, they could help you unlock amazing opportunities – and at excellent rates, too.
EXCLUSIVE holiday offers! Edgars Club members get savings on flights, accommodation, car hire and travel packages. For more info and to find out what’s on offer this month, go to edgarsclub.co.za or follow us on Facebook.
This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Club Magazine.