Why are we craving more travel experiences than ever before?

  • Issue no. 3

by Emily Frost, Travel Writer and Podcaster

Despite some doom-laden predictions and a heavily subsidised airline industry, as the world slowly learns to live with Covid-19, the global appetite for travel seems healthy once again. But something about our travel habits feels different now. There’s an extra ingredient we’re readily seeking out when booking a trip – experience. 

Travel experiences, or ‘experiential travel’ can take many forms, but loosely speaking, the term pertains to the kind of travel that encourages a genuine engagement and connection with the surroundings, culture and people of a chosen destination. From local food tours, to family homestays, immersive language courses and extreme sports adventures, travellers in 2022 are on the hunt for more from their trips than simply soaking up the sun and poolside cocktails.

So what is it about the post-pandemic world that has led us to seek more from our time away? Has having our wanderlust unsatiated and our wings fully clipped left us more adventurous? More curious? More certain of what we want and need?

The pre-Covid holiday was, for the vast majority of people, a sun-drenched oasis of relaxation and recuperation in the otherwise hectic and frenetic landscape of modern life. We booked our trips with deliberate and unequivocal focus on escapism – we desired respite from having to focus, having to perform and having to achieve things 24/7. Travel existed as a vital contrast to daily life, offering a slower, less action-packed schedule, better, more reliable weather and most importantly, more time to do absolutely nothing at all. 

As lockdowns were imposed in nations the world over however, doing absolutely nothing at all quickly lost its charm. 

Of course, we all adapted as best we could, and found ways in which to do nothing that were at least semi bearable. But after long months of life being anything but fast-paced, it makes perfect sense that our rebirthed inner-travellers have begun to prioritise different things when it comes to holidaying than simply down-time. The deficit of varied experiences, human connection and changes of scenery that we all had to endure throughout lockdown is something we’re now hungrily trying to make up for, still using holidays as portals of escapism, but this time to counter the repetition and mundanity of pandemic life and the ‘new normal’ with a vibrant, diverse patchwork of new landscapes, cultures and flavours. 

Perhaps our collective memory of being forced to remain unwaveringly in one place for long periods of time has also generated a receptiveness to greater depth of experience. We have emerged more willing to immerse ourselves in a destination, discovering more intricate details and characteristics of a place we may otherwise not have appreciated. We could now be more inclined than ever to apply what we were forced to learn in lockdown – that is, to dig deeper for meaningful experience in our present surroundings – to the way we interact with travel destinations. 

So is this newfound need to experience a destination, rather than simply just visit it, a passing travel trend, or the very future of the industry? Undeniably, only time will tell. As the mass behavioural change and memories of pandemic life become gradually more distant, so may our craving for immersive adventure.

What will almost certainly remain unchanged however, is the fundamental role travel plays for us all escapism from reality, a doorway into variety. We’ll always look to travel to provide what everyday life cannot. 

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