Seven Predictions for the Creative Reimagination of Travel in 2023

, Seven Predictions for the Creative Reimagination of Travel in 2023

People around the world are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about travelling in 2023 compared to 2022, and Vietnam is no exception. Despite some current instability felt globally, nearly 74% Vietnamese travellers report that travelling will always be worth it. The mood is shifting from one of hopeful uncertainty to bold adaptability. If 2022 was about the triumphant return of travel, 2023 will be about creatively reimagining it amidst the chaos. Nothing will be off limits and everything is on the menu as everyone seeks to find the right balance in a world of contradictions.

To understand how travel will be reimagined in 2023, Booking.com commissioned extensive research with more than 24,000 travellers across 32 countries and territories, including Vietnam, combining it with its insights as a leading digital travel platform to reveal seven emerging travel predictions.

At a time of general upheaval, where war, increased societal polarisation, rising inflation and urgent concerns about climate change are all continuing to radically change the world, people are finding themselves in a multi-directional tug-of-war, working to reconcile what is important to them with the demands of everyday life. The 2023 travel predictions reflect this sentiment, revealing that the needs of travellers are moving in a lot of different directions to adapt to changing times.

1. Preppers in Paradise   61% of Vietnamese travelers are looking for ‘off-grid’ style vacations to escape from reality and use travel as an opportunity to learn survival skills

Camouflaged cabins, campfire cuisine and compasses; going off-grid will never be more sought after than in 2023. A chaotic few years with natural disasters, political unrest and a global pandemic has seen some lose confidence in the world and the frivolous must-have comforts of our modern lives. 61% of Vietnamese 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 and switch off and experience life with only the bare necessities. Travelers are also keen to use travel in 2023 as an opportunity to learn survival skills (73%) including how to source clean water (60%), light a fire from scratch (61%), forage for food in the wild (64%) and even prep for an apocalypse (60%). 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

‘Off-grid’ in 2023 won’t necessarily mean roughing it though. There is a common perception that this means giving up luxuries (64%), however there is a strong desire to combine the two with 60% only considering travelling ‘off-grid’ if it can be at a more indulgent stay. More than half (60%) will have a non-negotiable requirement: phone and internet connection at their destination is essential.

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2. Virtual Voyagers 64% of Vietnamese travelers will turn to virtual reality next year to inspire their vacation choices

It used to be space travel that was ambitious and ‘outer worldly’. But now that’s happened, what and where next? With 64% of Vietnamese travellers reporting that they will be turning to virtual reality next year to inspire their vacation choices, and 57% keen to embark on a multi-day VR travel experience, travel will enter the ever-evolving 3D virtual space of the Metaverse in earnest in 2023. Travelers will no longer be limited by physics, and 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.

Travelers 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 63% more likely to travel to destinations that they wouldn’t have previously considered after virtually experiencing them.

, Seven Predictions for the Creative Reimagination of Travel in 2023, Seven Predictions for the Creative Reimagination of Travel in 2023

Indochine cruise ship on Mekong river. Credit: Saigontourist

3. Delight in the Discomfort Zone –  58% of Vietnamese travellers are looking forward to experiencing ‘out of comfort zone’ travel that pushes them to the limit

Whether it’s bottled up energy, pent-up frustration or a new lease on life, the world is ready to dive into other cultures and new experiences head first. More than half (58%) of Vietnamese travellers want to experience complete culture shock in 2023 – be it travelling somewhere with completely different cultural experiences and languages (64%) or exploring lesser-known cities with hidden gems that aren’t already on the radar (31%).

Forget the usual favourites, in 2023 travellers will be seeking unique vacations that shock, surprise and delight. With 88% travellers looking forward to experiencing ‘out of comfort zone’ travel that pushes them to the limits, there will be 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 52% want to use their vacation for extra-terrestrial exploration on UFO or alien spotting tours.

4. Glamorising the Good ol’ DaysNostalgic getaways that provide the thrill of reliving the glory days and harken back to simpler times are top of the travel wishlist for 94% of Vietnamese travelers.

Amid global instability and the desire for escapism, 94% of Vietnamese travellers intend to carve out travel experiences that harken back to simpler times, with nostalgic getaways that provide the thrill of reliving the glory days top of the wishlist 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 more than a quarter (29%) of Vietnamese 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. Travellers are no longer forfeiting play in favour of rest and relaxation, increasingly seeking the adrenaline rush of theme parks (63%), and drawing on the imagination with activities such as escape rooms, scavenger hunts and building fortresses with giant building blocks.

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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.

5. Peace and Pleasure Pilgrimages73% Vietnamese travelers aim to find peace at a silent retreat and 75% are keen on a  health hiatus that focuses on mental health, transformative health or that helps with life milestones

Travel is set to take ‘mind, body and soul’ wellness to the next level in 2023 – a fully immersive, no-holds-barred approach to attaining peace and pleasure including less conventional ways to feel bliss. Seeking to recenter the mind, meditation and mindfulness getaways are ever popular with Vietnamese travelers (54%), while 75% aim to find peace at a silent retreat and 73% 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. For those seeking enhanced spiritual experiences to stir the soul, alternative substances such as cannabis or plant-based psychedelics like ayahuasca or mushrooms will become a more mainstream offering, with 54% keen to try this kind of experimental wellness experience as part of their 2023 travels.

Increasing conversations in the public sphere around sexual wellbeing, pleasure and orientation are encouraging more people to take time away on an erotic escape (45%). Polyamorous retreats, bondage camps and resorts dedicated to helping people discreetly delve into specific fetishes and kinks are predicted to become more mainstream in 2023, providing a safe space for travelers to explore their sexual desires away from home.

6. From Daily Grind to Great Company Escape: 60% of the Vietnamese workforce is looking forward to their employer planning a ‘real life’ work trip to bring people together and build team camaraderie away from the office.

A step change from the ‘work from anywhere’ policies that are now almost as commonplace as annual leave, employees are increasingly keen to preserve vacation time for complete escapism. 69% of Vietnamese travellers want their trips to be strictly work free in 2023, and while more than half (56%) are not interested in working while away, they would consider clocking in for a company retreat or trip.

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As such, travelling for business will be back on the agenda in 2023. But unlike the business trips before COVID, 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, 60% of Vietnam’s workforce is looking forward to their employer planning a ‘real life’ work trip to bring people together and 68% 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.  Businesses stand to see benefits, too –  73% of Vietnamese workers believe exploring new places will inspire them to be more productive at work.

, Seven Predictions for the Creative Reimagination of Travel in 2023, Seven Predictions for the Creative Reimagination of Travel in 2023

Lisa Lannon(left) the doctor for the trip, local guide Trong, Jean Fitzpatrick, and head of Lend With Care, Tracey Horner on the road to Ha Dong.

7. Saving to Splurge: While 63% Vietnamese travelers say that investing in a vacation remains a top priority for them, being budget conscious is key, with 75% seeking more bang for their buck.

With the background of global economic uncertainty, travellers in 2023 will continue to prioritise travel 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 63% saying that investing in a vacation remains a top priority for them. But being budget conscious is key, with 75% of Vietnamese travellers continuing to spotlight travel while seeking more bang for their buck.

2023 will see financially-savvy itinerary curation at its finest, with people planning travel budgets more tightly by taking advantage of deals, hacks and smartly-timed travel (74%) and prioritising value for money with discounts and loyalty programs (64%). Within this context, many travellers are also surprisingly prepared to dial up their spend – and even splurge – on the components of their trip that mean the most to them. 70% 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 61% plan to spend lavishly to ensure they maximise their trip and every experience is worth it.

Varun Grover, Country Head, Vietnam at Booking.com comments: “If the last few years have taught us anything it’s that travel should not be taken for granted. 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. As such, at Booking.com our aim will continue to be to make it easier for everyone to seek their unique travel bliss in a more personalised and connected way in the year ahead and beyond.”

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