Active travel is in demand in 2023 as more travellers beat the WFH slump by combining nature immersion with exercise.
‘Active travel’ has no single definition. It could mean point to point hiking trips with luggage transferred between hotels, e-biking across Europe on the new EuroVelo paths or taking advantage of Hotel Sassongher’s new skyrunning in the Dolomites activity.
The uniting factor is the global yearning for active escapes post pandemic.
The seismic shift towards working from home means millions of people are more sedentary in their day to day lives. A survey by Statista shows that almost 30 per cent of people expect remote work to become their permanent reality, while further 36 per cent envision a hybrid work future.
With this new, housebound work environment no passing trend, remote and hybrid employees are seeking out active holidays that allow them to exercise while immersing themselves in nature during their downtime.
Here’s how this travel trend will take shape in 2023.
Adventure travel will be adjusted for multi-generational needs
Booking adventure travel will become a logical way for homebound professionals to inject exercise and movement into their lives in 2023.
“Travellers are looking for balance, and being active is a part of that,” says Jimmy Carroll, co-founder of the adventure travel company, Pelorus. “Hotels are starting to lend themselves to this mindset through yoga mats in your room and running routes or hiking trails on properties, which helps encourage this growing trend.”
Pelorus specialises in experiential travel and yacht expeditions. Jimmy and co-founder Geordie Mackay-Lewis are former British Army captains who use their military training to curate bespoke luxury adventure travel experiences.
With limited holiday allowance, employees have to balance their desire for active travel with other priorities, like seeing friends and family. This challenges adventure tour companies like Perolus to accommodate different ages and abilities.
“We’ve noticed an increase in group travel, whether that be multi-generational families or groups of friends celebrating an occasion,” says Jimmy.
He notes that this necessitates activities and accommodations that appeal to all members of the family. “[On our trips] each member of the family can do activities at their own pace with multiple guides allowing for all fitness levels and interests to be catered for,” he says.
“Properties such as Deplar Farm in Iceland or Sweet Bocas in Panama are some of our favourites for action-packed holidays with kids in tow.”
“We’ve also seen a big increase in ‘travel closer to home’, which includes domestic travel as well as within Europe.”
He adds that interest in Iceland grew considerably over the pandemic, as it offers remoteness and adventure only a short flight from the UK and Europe.
New and exciting opportunities for active travel will emerge
The broader adventure travel market is already on an upward trajectory. Earlier this year, a report by market researcher Next Move Strategy Consulting estimated that the global adventure tourism market was worth US$288 million (€290m) in 2021 but forecast that it will grow to US$2.8 billion (€2.8b) by 2030.
As travellers seek to push their boundaries coming out of the pandemic - both physically and mentally - new adventure niches are opening up. Walking and cycling holidays will become more mainstream. Nature-focused itineraries with active elements are already emerging in the market.
“People are less and less interested in an all-inclusive holiday where they lay on the beach or by the pool for a week,” says Tim Geisler, lead instructor of Nautilus Sailing. “They want to step out of their comfort zone, acquire a new skill, or earn bragging rights for an incredible achievement.”
Nautilus hosts week-long sailing holidays throughout the Caribbean, South Pacific and other international waters. These liveaboard experiences do more than offer an offshore escape - vacationers also learn how to sail and earn certifications throughout the trip.
Tim highlights the sudden change in their average client age. Just five years ago, this was skewed to the over 60s.
“We are seeing professionals in the 35-55 year-old range flock to the sport of sailing, and are welcoming lots of families who are excited to learn how to sail so that they can embark on their own sailing adventures.”
Their clients are typically either those planning to purchase their own boats or those seeking out the skills necessary to make future private chartering a more realistic possibility, Tim adds.
“The pandemic has taught us to seize the moment,” he says. “As people strive to have more ‘authentic’ cultural experiences, they realise that sailing offers an opportunity to enter a destination in a truly unique fashion and connect on a whole different level with the locals in a way that’s not possible on a cruise ship.”
Active travel will gain momentum throughout the next year
Active travel will tighten its grip in 2023 - whether it dominates your trip or is woven into a more relaxing itinerary is up to you. Hotels and tour operators are likely to offer customisable experiences that take advantage of outdoor activities on their doorsteps.
From dipping into cold swimming to tackling Romania’s answer to El Camino de Santiago to wingsuiting into an active volcano, travellers of varying ages, ability and interest levels will seek out new ways to actively explore the world.
The ‘journeys with momentum’ travel trend is explored in more detail in Expedia and Euronews Travel's 2023 Trend Report.