small globe in a hand reflecting the changing face of travel and impact of ai

As 2023 enters its final months and 2024 optimistically appears on the horizon, numbness and detachment loom as a result of the perma-crisis, including increased cost-of-living and climate change concerns. People around the world have emotionally checked out of the news agenda and events at home in order to take a much-needed  breather.

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Where in years past travel has been a means to escape life, is releasing research that shows that travel is life in 2024 with more than three quarters (78%) revealing that they feel more alive than ever when they are on vacation, and 68% wanting to be more like their vacation self in their day-to-day life back home. That’s because 68% also think they are the best version of themselves while on vacation. And with AI set to transform 2024, travelers are increasingly plugging into tech to do the grunt work, freeing them up to stretch their imagination, tune into their intuition and spark more soul-stirring experiences.

To explore how travel will transport people out of autopilot and into unleashing their best life, commissioned research among more than 27,000 travelers across 33 countries and territories, combining it with its insights as a leading digital travel platform to reveal seven predictions for travel in 2024.

1. (Alter) Ego Enthusiasts

In 2024, travelers will feel more alive by creating their very own epic alter egos on vacation, with more than a third (37%) making up stories about their real life to people they meet on their travels. These alter ego enthusiasts love the thrill of embodying a 2.0 version of themselves, and go to great lengths to reimagine their best self, with more than three in five (62%) enjoying the anonymity of travel and the chance to recreate themselves.

Fueling the idea that people take on different personas when traveling to feel more alive, over two thirds (68%) feel they are the best version of themselves on vacation, able to shed inhibitions and embrace new aspects of their personalities, while 42% would even pay to rent a nicer car than they drive at home to live their finest lives with confidence. What’s more, well over half (57%) of travelers feel ‘main character energy’ on their travels, with these performers empowered to be the stars of their own life.

Aliases and avatars abound, both IRL and through VR and AR. Those digital alter egos with a desire for wanderlust can go anywhere and do anything in the metaverse, and in 2024 the people behind them will bring their digital fantasies to life in real-world destinations.

2. Cool-cationers

Heat has officially had its vacay heyday, with scorching temperatures pushing the mercury to record-breaking levels and causing heat waves around the world. Sweltering conditions are accelerating a rise in travelers chasing cooler climes to revive and refresh themselves. The majority (51%) report that climate change will impact the way they plan their vacation in 2024, while over half (56%) say that as temperatures soar close to home, they will use their vacation to cool down elsewhere.

This effect taps into the expected rise of water-centric travel that takes the edge off the heat, and helps people wash away their worries. Three quarters (75%) agree that being close to water instantly makes them feel more relaxed, with over a third (36%) interested in water-centric vacations in 2024. As people dive headfirst into aquatic escapes, mindful water immersion will quickly become the next mainstream version of meditation, where the wild-swimming craze meets the ice-therapy movement (thanks, Wim Hof). This fresh form of feel-alive wellness travel will see floating yoga, water sound baths and snow meditation surge, as well as a boom in ice therapy retreats, underwater hotels and mermania, with water no longer the backdrop but the main event.

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