What’s ahead for travel in 2018? A peek at Virtuoso’s 2018 Luxe Report shows there is no end to the hunger for unspoiled natural beauty and luxury immersion, experiential travel when it comes to the tastes of the traveling American public.
Five must-take trips for 2018, according to Virtuoso advisors, include:
Cold is hot. Seasoned travelers in search of fresh destinations are setting their sights on chillier climes. Iceland continues to surge in popularity, placing high in several Luxe Report categories this year. Cruisers are enthusiastic about Alaska, and adventurers about Antarctica and the Arctic. One trip of a lifetime mentioned by Virtuoso’s expert advisors: seeing the Northern Lights.
Exploring new destinations is the year’s top trip motivator, and travelers are embracing the opportunity to push beyond their comfort zone. Virtuoso advisors suggest that people check out at least one new place a year, and challenge themselves to try something unexpected during their sojourn: swim with marine life like dolphins or mantas, go zip-lining or ballooning, or take a helicopter tour.
Connecting with family through travel. After topping the list of trends since 2010, multigenerational travel has firmly established itself as a travel niche. Following close behind is travel with immediate family, also a consistent trend that will carry forward in 2018. Whether renting a European villa for a celebration with loved ones, cruising to the Galapagos Islands, or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, a family trip creates lifelong memories, strengthens bonds, and plays a pivotal role in childhood education.
Experiencing Africa. From culturally rich South Africa, also 2018’s top adventure destination, to the wilds of Botswana and Kenya, to the souks of Morocco, Africa is one of the world’s most diverse continents. Virtuoso’s advisors say a safari is an integral part of the African experience, particularly with wildlife preservation a priority for today’s sustainably savvy travelers.
Being traveler, not a tourist. Immersive experiences not found in a guidebook or brochure, opportunities to meet locals, wandering neighborhoods and making spontaneous discoveries are the best ways to experience a destination, according to Virtuoso advisors. Whether it is wine tasting, or learning a traditional craft or a new language, travelers will be seeking out the true culture of that area they are visiting.
The desire for experiences that foster genuine human connection is a key driver for today’s travelers. No activity is too unusual for the clients of Virtuoso travel advisors, as some of the more surprising requests show. Travelers are asking for everything from reaching the edge of space in a MiG-29 flight in Russia, to herding cattle in Australia, to hosting a celebration in a private capsule aboard the London Eye.
They also seek rare accommodations such as an igloo in Norway, a private castle all to themselves, and sleeping under the stars in the desert – no tent required.
With the focus on far-flung exotic destinations in 2018, it is not surprising that luxury travelers are embarking on international trips of two weeks or longer, which are seeing strong demand. Weeklong international trips and three- to five-day domestic trips continue to be popular as well. What is surprising, though, is that Virtuoso advisors also noted more interest in shorter international trips, such as Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands in less than a week. Conversely, some travelers are requesting longer trips of three to five weeks.
Key findings from the 2018 Virtuoso Luxe Report:
|Top Travel Trends||Top Emerging Destinations|
|1. Multigenerational travel||1. Iceland|
|2. Active or adventure trips||2. Croatia|
|3. River cruising||3. Japan|
|4. Food and wine travel||4. Cuba|
|5. Celebration travel||5. Portugal|
|Top Global Destinations||Top Adventure Destinations|
|1. Italy||1. South Africa|
|2. Iceland||2. Iceland|
|3. South Africa||3. New Zealand|
|4. France||4. Costa Rica|
|5. Australia and New Zealand (tie)||5. Antarctica|
|Top Millennial Destinations||Top U.S. Destinations|
|1. Thailand||1. New York, NY|
|2. Italy||2. Maui, HI|
|3. Iceland||3. Miami/South Beach, FL|
|4. Costa Rica||4. Las Vegas, NV|
|5. Australia and South Africa (tie)||5. Napa Valley/Sonoma, CA|
|Top Family Travel Destinations||Top Honeymoon Destinations|
|1. Italy||1. Italy|
|2. Mexico||2. Maui, HI|
|3. Orlando, FL||3. French Polynesia|
|4. Hawaii||4. Maldives|
|5. Costa Rica||5. Bali|
|Top Cruise Itineraries||Top Travel Motivations|
|1. Mediterranean||1. Exploring new destinations|
|2. Alaska||2. Crossing off bucket-list items|
|3. European river||3. Seeking authentic experiences|
|4. Caribbean||4. Rest and relaxation|
|5. Greek Isles||5. Personal enrichment|