Whether you’re on a tight budget or rolling in cash, the idea of a holiday has universal appeal. And, with the world seemingly on the perpetual brink of implosion, escaping reality for a week or two has become even more desirable.
That may be why most people plan to increase their holiday spend in 2024, according to research by flight comparison site Skyscanner. “The overwhelming majority are planning to spend the same if not more than they did this year,” says its global travel expert, Laura Lindsay.
“What’s really interesting about 2024 in my eyes is that people are maximising their budgets. They’re willing to spend more on their holidays because they’re prioritising travel and potentially spending less elsewhere.
“The examples I give are of somebody who might previously have had a weekend in the UK going to a concert and another weekend city break elsewhere, or somebody who is potentially planning a 40th birthday party at a local venue and putting a few thousand pounds behind the bar while also planning a European city break. Next year, those individuals will combine the two things so they’re getting more bang for their buck.”
The consensus is that people spend around 5-10 per cent of their income on travel each year – a surprisingly large chunk. But where will that get you in 2024? Armed with four pre-tax salary brackets (looking at combined household income), we spoke to tour operators and analysts to find out the latest travel trends for every budget.
The one per cent
Household income: £300,000 and above
When you can go anywhere, go somewhere that nobody else can get to. That seems to be the mantra of the ultra-rich, who increasingly secure ultimate bragging rights by booking trips to destinations so out-of-the-way that camps have to be set up specifically to host them.
Bespoke travel company Cookson Adventures, which generally organises trips costing upwards of £150,000, is touting remote Greenland, lesser-visited parts of Papua New Guinea and the Yemeni island of Socotra as its top tips for 2024 (although the Foreign Office currently advises against travel to Yemen).
“People are looking for stories,” says Archie Muir-Mackenzie, its head of projects. “And these are wild, remote places where the story hasn’t yet been told”.
The company sets up its own accommodation on Socotra, “an untouched island with incredible landscapes”, according to Muir-Mackenzie. “We’ve got two camps there, one on the coastline and one in the dragon blood tree forest. It’s really opened up the destination. It’s very logistically heavy and you need to have experts on the ground to be able to be immersed in that kind of place. Before you could only be in very traditional homestays or wild camping.”
There’s also a shift back to wellness holidays. In 2023, Cookson sent a group to a remote part of Iceland for “a fitness-focused, outdoorsy adventure”, says Muir-Mackenzie. “We’ve got a slightly younger generation of clients coming through who are more interested in longevity and maintaining fitness. They might be joined by a personal trainer or they might have guides who are very fitness-orientated.”
Looking after yourself extends to upgrading your aircraft too. “The average spend is going up as people use private jets or planes to cut down on excessive travel – I’ve seen this in Africa, Thailand or Australia but we also find this request in Europe a lot these days,” says Jules Maury of Scott Dunn Private.
Meanwhile, Greece will be the destination of choice for those with kids, according to Maury. “It has a few surprises, but the two new One&Only properties in particular have loads of facilities for families.”
Set in Athens and on the nearby island of Kéa, these resorts will bring a dose of extreme polish to the region. The former, in a protected reserve at the edge of the Med, comes with mid-century inspired bungalows and sprawling villas and offers the chance for guests to try their hand at leather sandal or jewellery making. Meanwhile, there’s a treehouse village kids’ club.
What to book
For couples: Take to the skies on a 13-night private jet tour around the Mediterranean’s starriest spots, including Croatia, Monaco and the Italian Riviera. Abercrombie & Kent’s itinerary costs from a cool £30,809pp.
For families: Spend May half-term exploring Athens with One&Only Aesthesis as a base. A week starts from £43,720 for two adults and two children when booked direct (rooms cost from £715 per night at other times).
For solos: Cookson’s solo trips are price on application affairs, starting from around £50,000. Among the trips it can arrange are travels along the Silk Road and conservation adventures in Africa.
Household income: £150,000–£300,000
With a healthy budget, high-end travellers can embrace some of the mainstream’s most indulgent trends. First up is “set-jetting”: checking in to hotels or destinations made famous by TV or film appearances.
An onscreen cameo is “more influential than social media”, according to Ariane Gorin, president of Expedia for Business. “With several releases in the pipeline, we believe popular destinations for 2024 will include Thailand, inspired by the upcoming new season of The White Lotus; Paris because of season four of Emily in Paris; and the Scottish Highlands, thanks to the remaining seasons of Outlander,” she says.
The standout star of series two of The White Lotus was San Domenico Palace, the Sicilian outpost of the Four Seasons chain which comes with movie-star worthy bedrooms, a photogenic infinity pool overlooking the Ionian Sea and a £940 per night price tag. Next season’s location is the brand’s Koh Samui hotel, where hilltop villas tumble towards a private, palm-fringed beach and rooms are slightly cheaper, starting at £840 per night.
Meanwhile, with new hotel openings from the likes of Rosewood and Six Senses on the agenda, India is another of Maury’s recommendations for the coming year. Scott Dunn Private has a 10-night Limitless India itinerary from £12,798pp B&B, including flights from the UK.
What to book
For couples: If jet-setting seems a little tame, consider a trip inspired by one of TV’s more adventurous programmes, Race Across The World. You’ll need a couple of months and a very solid relationship for Interrailing Packages’ 60-day trip by train, which follows the route of the most recent, celebrity version of the series, starting in Morocco and working its way across Europe to Tromso, Norway. From £4,775pp including train and bus travel and accommodation.
For families: Greaves India’s family itinerary to the Golden Triangle and northern hill stations has fun firmly on the agenda. As well as trips to the Taj Mahal and Jaipur’s Amber Fort, there’s time at a bear sanctuary and a village festival featuring henna painting and camel rides. From £4,150pp.
For solos: During a recent press conference, Emily in Paris star Lily Collins hinted that her character might be taking a trip to the Italian capital in season four of the series, which starts filming in early 2024. Have your own Roman holiday at the slick five-star Hotel de Russie, which comes with the best “single rooms” in the city and exclusive experiences including the chance to see the only privately-owned Caravaggio in the world or take a tour of the Cinecittà film studios. A four-night break at the hotel costs from £3,660.
Household income: £75,000–£150,000
2023 was a year for superstar music tours and extortionate ticket prices, with entry to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé concerts sometimes costing hundreds of pounds. Because ticket prices oscillate wildly according to the location of the venue, Skyscanner predicts that 2024 will be the year for “gig-tripping” (combining a show with a holiday to get more for your money).
Germany is known for its low ticket prices, so it could be time for a city break to Munich. Swift is in town next July, when Skyscanner has flights to the city from London for £96 return.
For something more beach-y, CEO of Aardvark Safaris Alice Gully thinks the islands of Sao Tome and Principe will be the next big thing, especially since there’s a buzz about the revamp of the sleepily beautiful Bom Bom Island Resort on Principe, which reopens in May 2024. “These two islands have been dubbed ‘Africa’s Galapagos’ and were created by volcanic activity millions of years ago,” she says. “Their vibrant rainforests are among the most biodiverse on the planet – there really is an incredible amount to see and experience.”
Elsewhere, Trailfinders reported their highest Australia bookings for 2023 during the first week of November. Its food-and-wine focused self-drive tours are proving especially popular with honeymooners with large-ish budgets.
What to book
For couples: A 15-night Scenic South West trip starts in Perth before meandering along the coastline of Margaret River and costs from £2,799pp with Trailfinders, including international flights.
For families: Aardvark Safaris’ new eight-night trip to Sao Tome and Principe includes visits to historic cacao plantations, boat trips along the coast and treks into the rainforest and costs from £3,740pp.
For solos: For a slightly different take on gig-tripping, head to Brazil where there’s music every day of the week. “There’s no party in the world like a Brazilian party” according to solo travel company Flashpack, so it’s touting the country as one of its top destinations for 2024. Its eight-day Sao Paulo to Rio group trip costs from £2,600pp, excluding flights from the UK.
Household income: £75,000 and under
With the median UK salary hovering just above £38,000, most of us will need to do some penny-pinching if we want a break. But if there’s one positive thing about those endlessly shifting Covid restrictions, it’s that they taught holidaymakers to be more flexible about destination choices – and that can reap unexpected rewards.
“The five-star holiday might have been the preserve of the few in the past, whereas now it’s about finding where you can get a five-star that might be the price of a three-star elsewhere,” says Lindsay.
One of Expedia’s key travel trends for 2024 is “destination dupes”: swapping one popular destination for another similar one – with fewer tourists and, generally, cheaper prices. As an example, the company cites trading the Greek island of Santorini for Paros, where hotels cost around 15 per cent less on average.
“These are places that are a little unexpected or under the radar, but are just as special as the tried-and-true destinations,” says Gorin. “Both Santorini and Paros ooze Cycladic charm, with iconic, blue-domed churches and white washed buildings, but in Paros you’ll find fewer crowds.”
“Travellers are probably more comfortable going to new places these days. They don’t have to return to the same old favourites,” says Lindsay. That might be why off-the-radar cities top Skyscanner’s table of year-on-year search increases, with Vigo in Spain, Leipzig in Germany and Rimini in Italy coming first, second and third respectively.
Vigo is in Galicia, where tourism is on the increase. With its blustery Atlantic beaches and well-watered national parks, it’s traditionally been seen as a bit rainy for summer holidays – but demand has intensified as weather patterns have shifted and traditional summer sun destinations have become unbearably hot. Despite this, rooms at Vigo’s glitzy five-star Gran Hotel Nagari cost less than £98 per night.
What to book
For couples: Expedia has a week at the four-star Paros Palace near the pretty capital of Parikia, from £894pp in May with flights from London.
For families: Marmaris in Turkey was named best value family resort in the Post Office’s 2023 Family Holiday Report. Go in May half-term and you’ll avoid uncomfortable summer temperatures and more expensive prices too. Easyjet Holidays has a week in a one-bedroom unit at Hibiscus Apartments in Marmaris, from £980 room only for a family of four, including flights from Luton and transfers.
For solos: Leipzig is like a mini Berlin, with cool cafés, revamped warehouses, and plenty of museums and monuments (including the former headquarters of the Stasi). The city is a good choice for a solo city break and Kirker has three nights at the Radisson Blu Leipzig from £678 B&B including flights from London.