Skyscanner Predicts 7 Travel Trends for 2024: 'Gig Tripping' + 'Main Character Energy' Top the List
Forecast season is officially upon us! Hilton came out of the gate early with their predictions, now metasearch engine Skyscanner has compiled its Travel Trends 2024 report, in which it analyzes current consumer behaviors to predict where and how people will be traveling in the coming year. Using proprietary search and booking data––more than 80 billion prices are searched daily––combined with a survey of 18,000 global respondents, Skyscanner is well informed to shine a light on the biggest travel trends for 2024.
Cultural Exploration and Travel Vibes
Cultural exploration will be a priority for travelers in 2024. If last year was about the freedom of "revenge travel" after COVID restrictions lifted, then 2024 is about visiting destinations that inspire a certain feeling. While value for money is still top of mind, travelers are more than ever letting culture drive their decision making.
From gig trippers wanting to be moved by music to analog adventurers turning away from the "always on", 41% of travelers globally are being drawn to the overall vibe of a destination.
Travelers want to enhance their vacations in a cost-effective way too with ‘luxe-for-less’ vacation experiences trending. There’s a continued willingness from travelers globally to upgrade their vacation experience on everything from better quality food on board flights (29%) to upgrading to business or first class (20%).
"We’re seeing a broad spectrum of cultural curiosity in travel, from gig trippers, jetting off to see their favorite artists, to budget bougie foodies seeking the very best food experience (at the very best price!)," said Naomi Hahn, VP of Strategy at Skyscanner.
Overall, travel demand remains a top priority for 2024, despite the continued squeeze on budgets. Globally, 81% plan to travel the same, if not more, in 2024 compared to 2023, while 76% are planning to spend the same or more in 2024 versus 2023. As for the most important cost factors for 2024, 30% of travelers globally say the price of flights is the number one consideration.
7 Key Trends for 2024
Of the seven trends, Skyscanner divides them into two subgroups: four are culture-led "travel vibes"––Gig Tripping, Main Character Energy, Budget Bougie Foodies and Destination Zzz––and and three are behavior-led travel types––Analog Adventurers, Celebration Vacationers and Luxe-for-Less seekers.
1. Gig Tripping
From Taylor Swift to Beyoncé moving the overall economy in 2023, Skyscanner's finding that "gig tripping" is a top priority is not a big surprise. With more superstars announcing big international tours, increase interest in traveling abroad to catch a show – especially if tickets can be found cheaper and a no-frills airline can get you there and back.
44% of US travelers – Skyscanner calls them superfans – would fly short haul to see their favorite artist live, with 18% saying they’d fly long haul.
34% of US travelers said they plan to attend a gig, music concert or festival at home in 2024. This rises to 50% of 25-to-34-year-olds.
60% would consider a concert overseas in 2024 if it would help them save money.
2. Main Character Energy
Like this new term for "set jetting"....for years travelers have been jet setting off to discover destinations they’ve seen on screen. Well, Skyscanner is kicking this up a notch for 2024, predicting more and more travelers will "want to slot themselves into their favorite show and embody its "main character energy," embracing the cultural zeitgeist, stepping inside the shoes of their favourite on-screen character."
Topping the list is Emily in Paris. 1 in 3 US travelers want to experience the city like Emily Cooper. In fact, following season 3’s launch at the end of December 2022, Skyscanner saw a 32% increase in searches from the US to Paris in January compared to the previous month.
While 86% of US travelers are inspired to book a trip to a destination they’ve seen on the big or small screen, only 49% go on to book.
3. Budget Bougie Foodies
Food and travel. Both have always been synonymously linked. According to Skyscanner 47% of US travelers have booked a destination purely on a specific restaurant they want to visit. While a further 37% say it’s something they’d like to do. Eating the local cuisine and trying authentic food is one of the most popular activities for 27% of US travelers. Interestingly, the research shows that US travelers believe fine dining is out of their price range. They estimate a fine dining experience to cost $67 per person on average while planning to spend $58 per meal per person on vacation.
4. Destination Zzzz – Sleep Tourism
Sleep tourism is a growing trend in a world that feels busier and harder to switch off from. In the last few years, the number of people searching online for sleep retreats (and asking what they are) has increased. At the same time, people are becoming more interested in their sleep health. In fact, almost 50% of US travelers are more mindful of their sleep health today compared to a few years ago. Similarly, almost half (49 percent) of travelers believe that they sleep better while on vacation.
5. Analog Adventurers
It can be difficult to switch off from modern life on vacation and the desire for analog adventures is being driven by various influences. Travelers are starting to focus on the depth and quality of experiences, relishing the moment itself rather than the capturing of it, especially with devices that provide active distraction and blurred boundaries between work and pleasure.
"Immersion, mindfulness and human-to-nature connection are becoming of increasing value, and for some, it's driven by nostalgia, and for others, by never having experienced the novelty of it. –– Lee Chambers, Psychologist
"Immersion, mindfulness and human-to-nature connection are becoming of increasing value, and for some, it's driven by nostalgia, and for others, by never having experienced the novelty of it. And it's in these spaces where people often report they find the clarity and creativity that having a break is supposed to create," noted Lee Chambers, Psychologist and founder of wellbeing and inclusion agency Essentialise, who collaborated on the Skyscanner study.
Although 78% of US travelers say it’s important to "switch off," reality is that 45% are catching up on life admin (like paying bills or arranging childcare), 41% are doing an online food shop in preparation for home time, 41% find themselves scrolling on social media, 40% are checking their work email and, with a fear of the back-to-work blues, 34% admit they are even searching for a new job.
6. Celebration Vacationers
Whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries or something else to cheer, "celebration vacationers" are all about creating memories in some of the world’s most amazing places – making these milestones something to remember. 79% of US travelers have taken a group trip to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, with a further 12% saying it’s something they’d love to do. According to Skyscanner data, Mexico, Canada and Spain are the most popular destinations for group trips in 2024.
7. Luxe-for-less Seekers
Though the cost of living remains high for many, Skyscanner noted a willingness from travelers to find luxury where they can, within budget.
38% of US travelers plan to upgrade their flight to business or first class in 2024, while 39% plan to purchase airport lounge access to get their trip off to a great start.
Five-star luxury doesn’t have to come with a five-star price tag, and travelers are redefining value through experience.
Trending Destinations : buzzing places for 2024
These are the top 10 destinations for US travelers with the biggest year-on-year increase in searches according to Skyscanner.
1. Cayman Islands +483% search increase
2. French Polynesia +227% search increase
3. Osaka, Japan +210% search increase
4. Tokyo, Japan +201% search increase
5. US Virgin Islands +198% search increase
6. Bucharest, Romania +190% search increase
7. Bermuda +184% search increase
8. Taipei, Taiwan +177% search increase
9. St Maarten +155% search increase
10. Oranjestad, Aruba +155% search increase