Grab your neck pillow and jet lag pills. Here comes the summer of faraway cations.
A new survey of TripIt says half of US travelers plan to travel abroad in August. Where they are going? A recent study of nomads of the world ranks Europe as the top international destination (52% plan to visit), followed by Asia and South America (both at 19%) and Africa (15%).
“The pandemic has shown us that nothing is guaranteed and time is precious, so now is the time to get out and explore,” says Terra Baykal, World Nomads senior marketing manager.
The summer of 2023 will be the busiest for international travel since 2019, and perhaps ever. Simply put, people want to get as far away from home as possible, to places they’ve only dreamed of visiting.
But what awaits them? I have visited several remote places recently and have a preview. Also, why should you consider a faraway cation this summer and what are the most popular faraway destinations?
What is on the other side of the world? melbourne
An example of a far cation was my adventure in Melbourne, Australialast month.
Is far, far far. Flying in from the East Coast, you’ll make at least one layover and the trip will take a full day. You can fly non-stop to Melbourne from Los Angeles or Honolulu, but it’s still one of the most remote major cities on the planet, at least if you’re coming from the United States.
“Melbourne offers a wide variety of activities,” says Shelby Albo, a travel consultant for BOARDING Beyond. “One day, you could be in a downtown coffee shop surrounded by beautiful walls of graffiti. The next day, you could be exploring the Great Ocean Road. And the next, you could be spotting penguins on Phillip Island or enjoying the incredible food and wine scene. in the Yarra Valley.
What’s in Melbourne?
- I rented an apartment in St. Kilda, an eclectic part of the city close to the beach. My visit coincided with the Australian Grand Prix, which brought a lot of energy to this historic neighborhood. One of the highlights was a tour of Melbourne’s famous street artwhich is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
- Melbourne has excellent public transport, on a par with any major European city. I took a train to the Central Business District and visited some of the most famous museums in the city. In it National Gallery of VictoriaI saw an exhibition of Alexander McQueen’s fashion designs, drawn from his collections in Melbourne and Los Angeles.
- And of course there was the Great Ocean Drive. I took a day to take this iconic road tripstopping along the way to see the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park and tour the charming seaside town of Apollo Bay. Melbourne is one of the best urban experiences in Australia, but you have to get out of the city for at least one day.
“Anyone who loves the bustle and excitement of city life but doesn’t want to commit to the beautiful scenery should visit Melbourne,” says Darryl Newby, co-founder of Welcome to Travel. “It offers a unique combination of culture, sports and natural beauty that cannot be found in many other parts of the world.”
Why do people want to get away from it all?
One main reason: because they finally can.
“With many areas now open to international travel, long-distance travel is once again on the cards,” says Pallavi Sadekar, chief operating officer of VisitorGuard.com.
Also, because they haven’t traveled anywhere in a long time.
“I think all that pent-up demand makes people crave something a little more emotionally and educationally nourishing than the traditional week at the beach or in a mountain cabin,” says Lauralee Dobbins, a trip advisor from Pennsauken, NJ. “Not that there’s anything wrong with a week at the beach.”
The further the better, he says OvationRed adviser Andrew Williams.
“We are seeing increased interest in the Maldives, South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand,” he says. “Many travelers are looking to check their dream destinations off their bucket lists now, rather than putting it off until a future date.”
I felt the need to travel in early 2021, when COVID was still ravaging most of the planet. I had been sitting on my hands in a rental in Sedona, Arizona, not a bad place to quarantine, really, but I had to go. Back then, traveling was difficult, especially international travel. But at the end of 2021 I managed to leave the country and I have not looked back. I have traveled to all seven continents and am currently in New Zealand.
I understand why I urgently want to travel now. Take away our ability to travel for two years, and this is what you get.
Travel companies are adding more far-cation deals
There is another reason why more people are venturing into the unknown. Travel companies are offering more opportunities to do so.
Carry Lindblad Expeditions, for example, which typically takes travelers to some of the most remote corners of the world. This year, he turned up the volume on the remote.
“For the first time since 2015, we will be taking the NG Orion back to the Kimberley in Australia, Indonesia and Singapore this summer,” Femke Galle, Lindblad’s vice president of analysis, research and information, told me. “And for the first time, we will be taking a ship to Japan. National Geographic Resolution will be running two trips on our Japan Coastal itinerary: one is sold out and only a few cabins remain on the other.”
Hotel companies are also opening new properties in remote locations. InterContinental Hotels Group, for example, plans to open the Indigo Jabal Al-Akhdar in Nizwa, Oman, later this year. That’s a two-hour drive from Muscat and a six-hour drive from Dubai. The surrounding area is known for its stunning mountain scenery and the hotel will make use of the surrounding mountains, providing panoramic views of the area, according to the company. Visitors will be able to go mountain biking, hiking and cave exploring, and also visit Nizwa Fort and Souq.
Where to take a far-cation in the summer of 2023
So where will American travelers visit this summer?
“They’re moving away from the domestic travel trend that we’ve seen emerge in recent years,” says Matt Berna, intrepid travel President for the Americas.
Intrepid’s US domestic bookings are down 66% in 2023 compared to 2022, though overall bookings are up 29% this year. That suggests Americans are more eager to travel abroad this year.
Europe and the Middle East are the most popular destinations for summer travel this year. Intrepid says that countries like Morocco, Italy, Iceland, Croatia, and Egypt are at the top of its most booked lists.
“We are also seeing increased interest in Asia, specifically Japan and Vietnam, as the continent continues to open up after the pandemic,” says Berna.
According to Expedia summer travel forecast, there is an increase in the interest of American travelers to visit long-haul destinations such as New Zealand, Japan and Vietnam this summer. Flight searches were up 25% overall from June to August compared to the same period last year, with interest rising by triple digits for international destinations in Europe and Asia.
The biggest year-over-year increases, in terms of search volume, are for long-haul destinations such as Auckland, Hong Kong, Osaka, Da Nang, and Hanoi.
“This summer, travelers are clearly ready to dust off their passports and accept jet lag when embarking abroad,” says Expedia spokesman Anderson Cheney.
They will also spend more. Stan Sandberg, co-founder of travel insurance site TravelSeguro.com, says three-quarters of its clients are venturing abroad this summer. The average cost on a trip to Africa this summer is $18,100, 20% more than last summer. For Australia and New Zealand, travelers will spend just under $11,000 per trip, and for Japan, it’s just over $8,000 per trip.
“Far cations,” he adds, “are not for the budget traveler.”
So if you’ve been saving for the past few years, this could be the summer to grab that far-cation you’ve been dreaming of.
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