With consumers around the world making even more journeys in 2016 than ever before, it would seem that the world really is our oyster.

Just to be sure we’ve got the facts straight, Trajectory’s February Trends Breakfast delved a little further into our habits of exploration, to look more closely at what kinds of trips are being made and how emerging technology and changing attitudes are affecting our choices.

Here are a few things that caught our eye:

Where are we going?

Well, I’m afraid we’re not quite Dora the Explorer just yet. 68% of overseas UK trips are to just 10 countries, nine of which are in Europe and the tenth is America. So, while we may be travelling more, we’re certainly staying within our comfort zones.

In the spirit of keeping things relatively familiar, another trend that Trajectory has been watching is how the ‘Staycation’ is well and truly here to stay.

Source: GBTS / VisitEngland Staycation Monitor

 

As the chart above shows, UK trips peaked during the financial downturn in 2009, but as finances have become less constrained, numbers haven’t dropped as significantly as might have been expected – with the sustained growth being driven exclusively by short breaks. It’s safe to say that the opportunity UK tourism took around the crash has paid off, transforming the concept of domestic holidays from a last ‘resort’ to a destination within their own right.

How are we getting there?

When we are inclined to get our passports at the ready, expectations of we how we’ll get from place to place have undergone a transformation of their own…

Now, we’re less about the complimentary concentrated orange juice and more about the efficiency in cost and time, with Ryanair and EasyJet now taking up the posts of the world’s biggest airlines (excluding domestic flights for North America and China based airlines). If you don’t believe us, just take a look at Ryanair’s rise in customers (below)…limited leg room only matters to us so much!

Source: IATA

Despite the undoubtable popularity of the no frills and economical approach to travelling, consumers are willing to cough up the pennies once they’ve arrived.  Leisure plays a much more powerful role in our daily lives and identities than in the past, and accordingly, we’re willing to indulge ourselves when travelling. The recent downturn provides evidence of how much we prioritise leisure – while total consumer spending took 6.5 years to recover to the pre-recession peak, spending on Recreation and Culture (which includes holidays) has increased steadily since 2008.

What’s next on the horizon?

In terms of the next worldwide destinations of choice, World Bank and Trajectory data predict that on current trends, arrivals in Saudi Arabia could rise by 105% to 37.5m in 2020 and by 104% in Vietnam with a total of 16.1m. As these countries brace themselves for this new influx of travellers, there’s no doubt that they’ll take the opportunity to become a destination with a difference, similar to Dubai’s regeneration of the luxury market. It’s going to be interesting to watch!

The wonderful world of tech never fails to offer us something that at first might have seemed impossible and the travel sector is one of many that’s being transformed as a result. Personalised travel is no longer restricted to the most avid researcher or those with unlimited means. Airbnb’s recently launched ‘Trips’ offers bespoke experiences with local hosts all over the world, while DUFL revolutionises the personal valeting services where luggage is cleaned, packed and delivered to your destination for you. If you look hard enough, there is no longer a ‘normal’ way to globe trot.

Another game changer which is yet to fully make its mark is Virtual Reality, which could one day offer consumers the chance to ‘try before they fly’, to see if the bedroom wallpaper is to their taste or to find out which hotel balcony offers the best panoramic view. We could even get to the stage of questioning whether we need to leave the country at all when the alternative is to experience a faraway place from the comforts of our living room (without travel costs and minus the jet lag).

So, as we look back as well as forward, there are some exciting changes that make the travel sector one to watch. With consumers continuing to highly prioritise their leisure time, the more scope there is for exciting innovation that reinvents how we see the world, and even better, how we travel across it.