Virtuoso Luxe Report Reveals What Travelers Are Seeking in 2018

Beach Jaco, Nicoya, Costa Rica
Photo by Simon Dannhauer/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Virtuoso released the findings of its 2018 Luxe Report, which forecasts what to expect in travel for the year ahead. They found that travelers are showing the desire for unspoiled natural beauty, as well as other preferences in high-end and experiential travel.

The biggest trends for 2018, according to Virtuoso advisors:

  1. Cold is hot. Seasoned travelers in search of fresh destinations are setting their sights on chillier climes. Iceland continues to surge in popularity, placing high in several Luxe Report categories this year. Cruisers are enthusiastic about Alaska, and adventurers about Antarctica and the Arctic. One trip of a lifetime mentioned by Virtuoso’s expert advisors: seeing the Northern Lights.
  2. Exploring new destinations is the year’s top trip motivator, and travelers are embracing the opportunity to push beyond their comfort zone. Virtuoso advisors suggest that people check out at least one new place a year, and challenge themselves to try something unexpected during their sojourn: swim with marine life like dolphins or mantas, go zip-lining or ballooning, or take a helicopter tour.
  3. Connecting with family through travel. After topping the list of trends since 2010, multigenerational travel has firmly established itself as a travel niche. Following close behind is travel with immediate family, also a consistent trend that will carry forward in 2018. Whether renting a European villa for a celebration with loved ones, cruising to the Galapagos Islands, or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, a family trip creates lifelong memories, strengthens bonds, and plays a pivotal role in childhood education.
  4. Experience Africa. From culturally rich South Africa, also 2018’s top adventure destination, to the wilds of Botswana and Kenya, to the souks of Morocco, Africa is one of the world’s most diverse continents. Virtuoso’s advisors say a safari is an integral part of the African experience, particularly with wildlife preservation a priority for today’s sustainably savvy travelers.
  5. Be a traveler rather than a tourist. Immersive experiences not found in a guidebook or brochure, opportunities to meet locals, wandering neighborhoods and making spontaneous discoveries are the best ways to experience a destination, according to Virtuoso advisors. Whether it is wine tasting, or learning a traditional craft or a new language, travelers will be seeking out the true culture of that area they are visiting.

The length in which travelers are going away for appears to vary. Trips of two weeks or longer are in strong demand; however, week-long international trips and three- to five-day domestic travel remain popular. Some advisors did note, on the other hand, the desire among travelers for shorter international trips such as Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands in less than a week. Others noted some travelers are requesting longer trips of three to five weeks.

Key findings from the 2018 Virtuoso Luxe Report:

Top Travel Trends

  1. Multigenerational travel
  2. Active or adventure trips
  3. River cruising
  4. Food and wine travel
  5. Celebration travel

Top Global Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. Iceland
  3. South Africa
  4. France
  5. Australia and New Zealand (tie)

Top Millennial Destinations

  1. Thailand
  2. Italy
  3. Iceland
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Australia and South Africa (tie)

Top Family Travel Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. Mexico
  3. Orlando, FL
  4. Hawaii
  5. Costa Rica

Top Cruise Itineraries

  1. Mediterranean
  2. Alaska
  3. European River
  4. Caribbean
  5. Greek Isles

Top Emerging Destinations

  1. Iceland
  2. Croatia
  3. Japan
  4. Cuba
  5. Portugal

Top Adventure Destinations

  1. South Africa
  2. Iceland
  3. New Zealand
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Antarctica

Top U.S. Destinations

  1. New York, NY
  2. Maui, HI
  3. Miami/South Beach, FL
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. Napa Valley/Sonoma, CA

Top Honeymoon Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. Maui, HI
  3. French Polynesia
  4. Maldives
  5. Bali

Top Travel Motivations

  1. Exploring new destinations
  2. Crossing off bucket-list items
  3. Seeking authentic experiences
  4. Rest and relaxaton
  5. Personal enrichment

    Advisors from Virtuoso-affiliated travel agencies in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East were polled, drawing on their expertise and client requests to offer insight into 2018’s biggest trends.

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