The big idea: it’s time to move
The journey makes its appearance, remodeled and reinvented, with a new goal around one idea: time. Today travel it’s time-consuming, with longer journeys and fewer vertiginous pit stops, to linger and explore with greater latitude. Many may have taken their vacations in 2020, but often to easier and closer destinations: St. Barts, perhaps, or Mexico. The ability to explore again has inspired travelers to prioritize extra time they never considered before. In 2019, 21% of trips booked by a specialist operator in Asia Remote lands lasted more than two weeks; now two-thirds have 15 days or more. Grèves tours, which focuses on India, saw the number of stopovers on the routes halved to just two or three from six or more two years ago; trips are now longer, with far fewer requests a week.
Traveling allows you to spend time together. Families reconnect in this way after a separation, voluntary or not, during the pandemic. It is not uncommon for groups to span three or four generations, 20 or more people exploring together where 8 could have been the maximum. Adventurers, vaccinated ninety and ninety their grandchildren on safari and in the Seychelles, each family group chartering a jet for their trip. Many older travelers are driving these bookings, with the pandemic memento mori giving them an extra carpe diem shake. New, smaller hotels have emerged tailor-made for this booming market, ideal for full buyouts: see Lopud 1483, a fifteenth-century five-suite monastery in Croatia owned and managed by the dean art world Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, or Xigera, in Botswana, a safari camp with only 12 suites.
The way we book has also changed: either well in advance or with a few weeks to spare. Silversea 139 days, 34 countries world cruise, departing from Sydney in January 2023, sold out within hours of the cabins going on sale in March, almost two years in advance. A chance to savor the anticipation longer, of course, but also a sign of a practical problem: many top hotels and destinations are booked until early 2022, often through postponed bookings; there is hardly a free room at the best lodges in Chile for the rest of the year, for example.
But cancellations still happen, so last-minute high-end travel is also on the rise, according to Houston-based travel advisor Sarah Groen of Bell & Bly. Each week, 70% of his time is now spent on complex travel requests within two months of departure, up from around 30% previously. It is also a reflection of the flexibility that the changing pandemic landscape has taught all travelers. The ultimate embodiment of this? Wonderlust’s new Magical Mystery Tour and Travel sommelier: a trip of $ 11,999 per person where the destination is not revealed until the day of the trip.