Luxury travel advisors have unveiled the top nine “must-have” travel experiences for 2024, catering to a growing trend that emerged during the pandemic era – a focus on purpose-driven and meaningful travel experiences that delve deep into destinations. Travelers are now seeking not only to visit a place but also to gain knowledge and undergo transformative experiences while exploring. Virtuoso, a prominent luxury travel company, conducted a survey among 20,000 of its travel advisors to identify the most sought-after travel experiences in 2024. Here are the nine experiences that stood out:
Dark Sky Tourism
In a departure from traditional daytime tourism, dark sky tourism revolves around the marvels of the night sky. This includes activities like stargazing and witnessing the Northern Lights. Travelers can also embark on nocturnal animal tours. Virtuoso recommends destinations such as Norway, Iceland, and Canada for this experience. Moreover, Northern Mexico offers a chance to witness the total solar eclipse on April 8. Additionally, travelers can explore over 200 designated “Dark Sky Places” in 22 countries, which are free from light pollution.
“Safaris” often evoke images of the “Big Five” African animals, but “slow safaris” take a different approach. These safaris focus on experiencing the full array of Africa’s wildlife and landscapes at a leisurely pace, offering an alternative to the adrenaline-fueled wildebeest migrations and lion hunts. Travelers can indulge in activities such as birdwatching and spot less conspicuous wildlife, extending beyond the Big Five.
Wellness as a Way of Life
Wellness destinations have proliferated, but Virtuoso suggests two exceptional choices: Bhutan, known for its Gross National Happiness index, and Thailand, both offering stress-free escapes. Bhutan has recently reduced its daily Sustainable Development Fee, making it more accessible. Thailand offers serene spots, including the InterContinental Khao Yai Resort, located near the Khao Yai National Park.
The Seasons of Japan
Japan’s allure continues to grow, with the Japan Rail Pass website experiencing a significant surge in traffic. Spring, when cherry blossoms adorn Kyoto and Kanazawa, is a popular time to visit. However, Virtuoso advises considering a winter trip for skiing and the enchanting sight of Mount Fuji covered in snow.
Expedition cruises are heralded as the travel trend of the decade. These cruises offer the comfort of a cruise ship but operate on smaller vessels with fewer passengers. They are favored for exploring remote destinations like Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands, often featuring onboard experts. Travelers seeking adventure and uniqueness are increasingly drawn to expedition cruises.
Paris to Istanbul, via Train
For a luxurious and exclusive journey, Virtuoso recommends the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train, which offers a once-a-year voyage from Paris to Istanbul. Departing in August, this journey provides an opportunity to enjoy the Olympic Games in style before setting off.
Virtuoso suggests travelers take their passions on the road. Gardening enthusiasts can attend London’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, while bookworms can explore the library in Prague’s Strahov Monastery. Dinosaur enthusiasts can join Dinosaur Trips, led by paleontologist Brian Curtice, for bone excavations and fossil site explorations.
Escape to a Private Island
The ultimate secluded holiday experience lies in chartering a private island. However, it’s not necessary to book the entire island to enjoy a similar experience. Destinations like Bawah Reserve in Indonesia’s Riau Islands and Panama’s The Resort at Isla Palenque offer seclusion, sandy paths, and private villas.
Food Festivals and Private Tours
Culinary tours offer a window into a culture’s past and present. Virtuoso recommends exploring Peruvian cuisine at the Mistura Food Festival or savoring the street food of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Travelers can also participate in cooking classes and food tours with guides like Mexico City’s The Curious Mexican, supporting local communities in the process.
In 2024, discerning travelers are increasingly drawn to experiences that go beyond the ordinary, seeking journeys that combine adventure, culture, and personal interests to create truly memorable and transformative vacations. As the travel industry continues to evolve, these top nine “must-have” travel experiences, as curated by luxury advisors, serve as a testament to the growing demand for meaningful and purposeful exploration.
Whether it’s gazing at the starry night sky in remote locations, savoring the rich cultural tapestry of Japan, or embarking on expeditions to remote corners of the globe, these experiences offer a diverse range of options for travelers to connect with the world in a deeper, more immersive way. In an age where travel is more than just a destination but a journey of self-discovery, these experiences cater to the evolving preferences of modern globetrotters.