The travel industry is currently at its peak, and new luxury travel trends for high-end consumers are emerging to cater to the wanderlust of those who like to travel in style.
In 2024, we’re seeing a return to solo travel along with more mindful and eco-conscious travel choices that are allowing us to experience the world in a new way while revelling in the luxury of personalised experiences and luxury hospitality.
Here are the top luxury travel trends that will fill your Instagram feed in 2024.
Luxury travel often means penning down unique travel experiences in our yearly calendars and anticipating them excitedly. While before we might have opted for shorter but more frequent holidays to get the most out of the year, long-haul travel experiences are now becoming the norm.
Hybrid working has surely allowed a more flexible mindset around how and when we book our holidays. According to the latest Flyrwire Corporation survey, 84% of luxury travellers plan to book longer vacations in 2024 than they did so in the past 18 months. They are also not restricted by the time of the year for their vacay-fun, with off-season being a popular option, and 85% of those surveyed attribute that to their hybrid working schedule.
The flexible working arrangements we now have are also giving rise to a quite alluring form of travel – bleisure. As the name suggests, bleisure combines business trips with leisure activities, which often implies extending our holiday time. 73% of those who took part in the Flywire survey say that they’re more likely to blur the lines between business trips and vacations now than they did so in the past.
Special events trips
The next few years are looking exceptionally exciting when it comes to big sports events. The 2025 Ryder Cup near Rome, the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, and the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo are creating more of a reason to plan our holidays around such events. Whether you’re a big sports fan or not, seeing something as spectacular as the Summer Olympics is trip-worthy.
This entices travellers to book longer holidays where they can enjoy the beautiful surroundings and sightseeing hotspots along with the winning sports!
Another luxury tourism trend that’s gaining momentum is participatory sports travel. While not all of us can be Olympic-level athletes or cycling champions, having the chance to ski with former Olympians or cycle a stage of the Tour de France is a hot ticket! Such experiences are now available for adventure-thirsty enthusiasts. That’s an upgrade in the sports-led travel trends for luxury travellers! So, go ahead and book in advance!
After our longing for togetherness and the outbreak of ‘we holidays’ such as multi-generational travels over the past few years, a new luxury travel trend is emerging – ‘me time’.
Solo getaways offer the opportunity to retreat from others and follow your own travelling rhythm without fighting over where to go next. They can be extremely soul-rejuvenating, whether you decide to go for a solo wellness retreat or a luxury expedition cruise. In fact, tour operators are reporting an exponential boom in solo travel bookings in 2023 and for 2024 compared to the previous years, with women being the biggest patrons of solo escapes.
But solo experiences don’t have to be solitary. According to Heidi Durflinger, president of EF Go Ahead Tours, “solo travel within a group is one of the fastest-growing travel styles right now”. This is a great way to meet new people while still enjoying the flexibility and independence that comes with solo travel. It’s great for character-building too!
The luxury travel industry is also making changes to accommodate solo travellers. Many ships have now waived or reduced the solo traveller fee and offer cabins specifically designed for single passengers. Even some yacht charters are available to book by the cabin with no additional fee if you travel solo.
Traditional cruises may well have had their peak in the last few years. Nevertheless, in 2024, we’re seeing a new form of cruising worldwide being popular amongst luxury travellers – expedition cruises.
While traditional cruises take travellers around more popular destinations, expedition cruising transports globetrotters to remote and less-explored places. Alongside the thrill of distant destinations, travellers are met by a crew of scientists who are ready to fill them in on the nitty-gritty facts about the Antarctic or the Boca dos Botos channel in the Amazon so that they can come back with an upgraded vocabulary about the natural and uncharted world.
The luxury hospitality is also up to par with this one-of-a-kind experience. Think gourmet dining, personal butlers, and spa facilities. What more could you ask for than a gourmet dinner followed by a lecture on polar bears?
With such a wide choice of experiences, luxury travellers seek something unique and specifically tailored to them. This has given rise to personalised travel experiences.
High-end consumers continue to value over-the-top luxury, including private services during their trips, such as personal tours, exclusive access, and even private drivers. When it comes to accommodation, they’re always opting for the latest luxury hotel trends and wellness facilities with custom packages.
Creating a perosnalised travel experience can start before guests even arrive at the destination. Asking them to fill out preference forms will help holiday organisers tailor their stay, welcome packages with personalised notes are a nice touch, and feedback forms will help create even more customised experiences in the future.
According to a recent YouGov study, affluent consumers are willing to pay a bit more for unique experiences that bring them closer to nature or a remote destination.
With the rising awareness of the importance of sustainability, the travel industry is also changing to accommodate eco-conscious consumerism. Enjoying the bliss of travelling in an opulent way doesn’t have to come at the expense of the planet. Some of the most luxurious travel experiences today are also the most sustainable ones. Think preservation projects, carbon-neutral flying, sustainable wellness retreats, and ‘eco hotels’. Many retreats, hotels, and tour operators are rethinking how they impact the environment and remodeling their structures to meet 2025 sustainability goals.
The 2022 Virtuoso report revealed that 74% of travellers are willing to pay more to travel sustainably if they know where their money is going. In 2023, this concept is taken further with the urge to implement more eco-friendly operations within the cruising industry, which attracts luxury travellers. Such initiatives include water conservation, exploring alternative energy sources, and working with destinations to manage tourism flows.
Indigenous-led travel experiences
As the thirst for authenticity is growing amongst travel-seekers, indigenous-led experiences are gaining popularity. Immersing yourself in the local community is a great way to get to know a place.
In 2023, some tour operators launched 100-plus indigenous experiences, from hiking tours of Utah’s national parks led by Native American guides to exploring Australia’s Aboriginal culture in the natural temples of Uluru and the Pilbara.
On the luxury wellness travel front, we will see travellers experiencing more indigenous well-being practices hosted in the land where they originate. Think traditional ryokans, also known as hot springs inns, in Japan, or explore traditional Arabic medicine directly from the source.
Much like high-end travellers are looking to get closer to local communities through indigenous-led travel, the need to connect with nature is feeding into the emergence of the wilderness-led luxury wellness travel trend.
Instead of spas, travellers are heading into the forests, mountains, and lakes to experience restoration in the wild while reconnecting with Mother Earth. This luxury wellness travel trend makes perfect sense as people are developing a deep longing for nature, privacy, and better mental health.
Luxury retreats that offer mountain hikes, forest bathing, and wild swimming even in cold waters adopting the Wim Hof cold therapy method, will be on the list of high-end travellers looking for a dive into the wild in 2024. This type of travel experience can be perfectly complemented by conscious and sustainable-led travel, adding an extra level of care and connection with nature.
The Luxury Orient Express
There is something incredibly romantic about a train journey. You get to witness beautiful views while traversing through the Andes or the Scottish Highlands and looking through the nostalgic lens at the past. Train journeys are more responsible too, as they require less fuel and produce less carbon emissions than flights.
Multi-night train trips can easily be incorporated into custom itineraries, catering to this luxury experiential travel trend that celebrities such as Natalie Belden are hopping on. For her 25th birthday, the influencer managed to find last-minute tickets for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) from Vienna to Paris, which has been on her bucket list for years. “It’s the lure of being in Europe and getting that old-timey feel,” Belden told Robb Report, “but also being on this luxurious train that is so glamorous, and you have cocktails and Champagne.” She even compared it to a Disney ride.
Other luxurious train journeys include the Andean Explorer in South America or the British Pullman with its “Cygnus” carriage built in the 1950s and representative of director Wes Anderson’s style for those who are fans.
We all know that the way to a man’s heart is through their stomach. Turns out that the same applies to luxury travellers too, say the Virtuoso Travel Week’s experts. High-end globetrotters are foodies too and are often seen appraising local culinary voyages, five-star dining, and immersive experiences such as cooking classes or wine tasting, whenever they visit a new destination.
Could that be the reason that inspires them to book their next holiday? Absolutely yes! Food writer and culinary instructor Julia Celeste Rosenfeld says that people are booking private tours into chefs’ kitchens to learn about food history and the craft. They are interested in customised experiences in a little village in the Mediterranean where they get to interact with the local chef and avoid long waiting lines.
Resorts are accommodating this luxury travel trend by organising artisan cooking classes that allow participants to bring something home with them after the class or scheduling VIP visits by celebrity chefs. That’s a sure way to bring people to their resorts!
Ease of payments
As we’re moving into a more digitised world, high-end travellers expect their holidays to be met with ease of payment, from accommodation to special activities expenditure. They don’t want to be waiting long for payment processing or having trouble with their cards, let alone dealing with cash, which some destinations still use. According to Flywire Corporation’s survey, 90% of luxury travellers prioritise convenience of payments, including contactless and mobile-friendly options.
But the ease of payments comes with an increased need for security. The survey shows that almost seven out of ten (69%) travellers surveyed have concerns about payment security, a 32% increase from the last two years. That means that tour operators must consider adding various payment options and an extra layer of security.
The 2024 looks beyond promising for those who will be bathing in the immersive experiences the travel industry offers. These luxury travel trends are making everything more exciting with a touch of sustainability and a sense of opulence filling the air.