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Top Travel Trends of 2024: Your Ultimate Travel Forecast For the Year Ahead

Mountain Road surrounded by trees.

During the last few years, travel has experienced its share of ups and downs. With travelers joyfully returning to the road, rails, sails, and skies in 2022, then accomplishing big bucket-list adventures in 2023, we are currently looking ahead into the travel trends of 2024 with more of our focus on the important qualities of life like wellness, sustainability, and culture.

Travel is alive and well, and gaining momentum for 2024. According to TripAdvisor, four of five Americans will be planning vacations this year. This includes solo trips to slow-life travel, sustainability to small-town tourism, and a significant rise in wellness travel. As we head into the new year, these trends come as fantastic news to an industry faced with challenges during the pandemic.

These anticipated trends are set to define the travel industry along with impacting traveler’s decisions on how, why, and where they travel in the coming year. Here are the main topics MerakiTravels plans to focus on this year, so you can plan your next trip with the best intentions in mind.

Massage is integral to wellness and longevity, both travel trends in 2024. Here's an example of a comfort-focused massage table (owned by the author, who has been a massage therapist for 3 decades).
Photo Credit: MaryRose Denton

Wellness Travel Trends of 2024

The first one up for me revolves around Wellness Travel. As a Massage Therapist for over three decades, an educator, a yogi, and a lifelong vegetarian, my life and career have been steeped in wellness-centered principles. It brings me great joy to see wellness take center stage on the travel front.

With a rising emphasis on mental and physical health, many travelers are prioritizing wellness travel experiences. There is a desire to savor, even sink down into these experiences, and embrace the slowness, with travelers seeking out retreats and destinations that support wellness. Biohack your health and longevity with a Nordic-style cold plunge followed by an infrared sauna. Soothe those traveling muscles with a deep-tissue massage or restorative yoga class.

Sleeping well is not only vital to good health it is also a high priority for travelers. Everything from black-out curtains to calming aromatherapy are simple ways destinations ensure you a good night’s rest. Even participating in a digital detox, where you unplug from technology for a set period, is on the uptick. Turning off your cell phone an hour before bedtime helps increase your chances of sweet dreams.

Another type of biohacking is getting out in nature. Combine a walk in the woods, known in Japan as Shinrin Yoku or forest bathing, with meditation and you have a recipe for wellness.

And we all know the old saying, “We are what we eat,” so it makes sense that along with wellness, 2024 will see interest rise in our culinary options. Both dry tripping, the alcohol-free choices for beverages, and vegan travel are expected to increase. Some ways travelers may experience these alternatives are through cooking classes or booking a local food tour.

Wellness is dominating the travel trends (2024), and that involves spending time in beautiful places, like this flower garden with rows of purple and white blooms!
Photo by MaryRose Denton

Agritourism

Do you know where your food comes from? Living in an area rich with agriculture, knowing where my food comes from and how it is grown is near and dear to my heart. I am not alone in this for as people become more interested in supporting local farmers, growing community gardens, and understanding where their food is grown, it makes sense for Agritourism to be a growing trend.

Spend an extended weekend on a farm while helping out with chores like feeding the animals or gathering vegetables for that night’s dinner. It’s not only a more meaningful travel experience but one that will connect you to the land, when perhaps life can feel disconnected in so many ways. A travel memory not soon forgotten.

Shoulder Season Vs Peak Season

If you are like me and enjoy an authentic, local feel when visiting a destination then you may be interested in booking your next stay during shoulder season. It makes sense as travelers seek out more personal experiences with a desire for connection. The economy may be a factor too, for reservations tend to be less expensive during shoulder seasons and travelers are seeking out a good value while hitting all the other desires such as slowing down the pace of travel.

Rising temperatures in the peak of summer may also be driving vacationers to consider other times of the year to hit their favorite beach.

Travel Trends 2024: Coolcationing - A misty beach environment, perfect for travelers looking to escape the heat!
Photo by MaryRose Denton

Coolcationing

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I neither like it too hot (above 80 degrees) nor too cold (below 40 degrees).  Maybe that is a bit like Goldilocks but I prefer the climate to be temperate and “just right.” A new trend this year demonstrates I am not alone in my feelings.

Among the increasingly popular travel trends of this year is Coolcationing, which refers to vacationing in temperate destinations, where the mercury does not hit sweltering heat wave numbers. Combine this with shoulder season travel and you will benefit from the destination being less crowded. 

Sustainable travel is gaining popularity as a travel trend in 2024
Photo by MaryRose Denton

Sustainability Travel

Climate change concerns drive how and what we may, or may not consume. This applies to how, why, and even where we travel as well.

Several of the trends such as travel during shoulder season, agritourism, and even coolcationing are influenced in some way by the concern for climate change. Travel will continue to shift away from ticking off experiences and over-using popular destinations and lean into more conscious choices as we create meaningful memories.

Sustainability travel is sticking around for 2024 as we see more hotels and hosts going green, even full cities incorporating urban gardens into their architecture. These green microclimates add a lush touch to the grayscale cityscape along with the added benefits of shaded areas, gardens to feed communities, and beautiful spaces where we can connect with nature and each other.

Supporting sustainability means supporting local. One way to achieve this is by partaking in what is known as wild feasting or foraging. Imagine dining on a beautifully curated meal comprised of all local and foraged ingredients while seated among vines of maturing grapes or inside a mountain meadow. Dining in this natural environment is wild feasting and if you can imagine it, you can do it.

A family of mushrooms surrounded by moss.
Photo by Richard Schmitz

A Few Other Trends

Rounding out the year, there are a few other travel trends to mention. Regenerative travel speaks not only to sustainability but also to the idea of going one step further and giving back to the destination you are visiting. 

More travelers desire spontaneity in their planning, or should I say not planning and going where the wind and their whims take them.

And the slow-travel movement combined with climate consciousness sees a surge with train travel on the rise. Hop aboard one of the most romantic ways to see the countryside, sit back and enjoy the ride.

It is a big year ahead! Go forth, explore, and safe travels.

Photo by Richard Schmitz