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Why travel is worth more than any material gift this festive season

In a world where consumer goods have never been more accessible to more people than ever before, it’s worthwhile asking a straightforward question: What is important to you? What brings you real joy? By Teresa Richardson.

At least 74% of people polled in Trafalgar’s 2018 travel study on what constitutes ‘The Good Life’ believe that what brings them joy, whether travelling or in their day to day life, is experiences. Relaxing and spending quality time with loved ones, having time to remember what’s essential and exploring ‘the different’ is what makes us tick. Whether it’s a trip with the family to the local beach for ice-cream or working off Portugal’s delicious pasteis de nata on Lisbon’s seven hills, experiences are what you’ll keep with you forever. 

Experiential travel is one of the most significant trends in recent years and will continue to be so in 2020 travel and beyond. Here are some key trends to consider when giving the gift of travel this festive season:

Experiences that will never fade

Long gone are the days of cookie-cutter sightseeing highlights. Some 70% of travellers surveyed in our study said trips that offer new and unique experiences are more important than those where you see all the sights. While we all want to tick off iconic sights, and we certainly should, travellers are now seeking out authentic experiences that give them more than just a glimpse into the lives of the locals. These immersive, local experiences are essential. Keep them in mind when you’re planning your 2020 holiday.

Trafalgar’s ‘Hidden Gems,’ ‘Dive into Culture,’ ‘Stays with Stories’ and our ‘Be My Guest’ experiences more than tick this box. ‘Be My Guest’ experiences, which are offered on all our itineraries around the globe, take guests into a local’s home to dine with them. Time and time again our customers return raving about the ‘Be My Guest’ experience, often naming it as the highlight of their trip. They leave having made meaningful connections with the locals, having experienced an essential piece of local heritage first-hand and having seen something most DIY travellers just don’t have access to. 

Niche experiential travel

Every traveller, foodie or not, recognises the importance of experiencing local culture through cuisine. Culinary travel is as hot as ever. Foodie travellers who want to dive deep into a region’s food, wine and specialities, can consider a destination famed for its culinary excellence or cuisine. That could be Tuscany, Thailand, the wine-regions of France, Portugal’s Porto and UNESCO Douro River Valley or even unearthing the delights of Sicilian cuisine in this under-the-radar Mediterranean gem. Learn how to cook fresh pasta from an Italian nonna in Florence or taste liquid gold (olive oil) at a family-run olive oil estate in Italy. The world of food awaits – and it’s delicious.

Activity-based travel is another trend to consider for your 2020 travel. Tramp around Farmer John’s Cumbrian farm in the rural British countryside, visit a horse ranch in the Andalusian region of Spain, walk the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia or wander the halls of the Geghard Monastery, and its stunning natural surrounds, in trendy Armenia.  

Family and group travel

Forbes has reported that children play an increasingly significant role in the planning of family travel. And so they should! There’s no use dragging the kids off to a destination that they have no interest in.  

Family travel comes with its own set of stresses, so for the best chance of a seamless trip, opt for the comfort and ease of group travel. A guided holiday, tailored specifically to families, can offer family-friendly hotels with inter-leading rooms (or even quad and triple shares), and often have pools or other kid-friendly facilities. A good example is Trafalgar’s new ‘Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes’ itinerary in Costa Rica. An array of extraordinary experiences, designed to delight young and old, will ensure that no one is bored on this trip!

Responsible travel 

For decades, Trafalgar and The Travel Corporation have been committed to responsible travel – long before it became a trend. Every guest can make a difference when they travel with us. Choose to get your documents emailed to you rather than printed (we plant a tree for every guest that chooses this option), support our no single-use plastic initiative and know that your travel has a positive impact on the communities we visit. By supporting local artisans and ensuring their age-old traditions and cultures do not die out, Trafalgar is committed to sustainable travel, ensuring that tourism benefits the right people and that we are conscious of protecting the world’s natural habitats and cultural heritage sites.

Make your travel matter by buying locally made travel souvenirs. For example, in Iraq Al-Amir in Jordan, travellers can purchase beautiful crafts handmade by the local women. 

Make the right choice when planning and booking your 2020 holiday. Be wise and choose the right supplier and option for the best travel gift. 

Trafalgar has a high number of repeat guests. We are incredibly proud of this and work hard to ensure that our guests return with the greatest travel stories ever! We use an independent rating system called Feefo, which allows guests to leave live, unmoderated reviews and feedback after every trip. These comments are not moderated at all. We currently have a 4.7% rating.

With the right holiday lined up, packed full of experiences that will never fade, a 2020 trip is the gift that will keep on giving!

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