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Many travellers from the Great White North want a 'back-to-basics' holiday

Expect to see more eco-friendly, earthly stays springing up to accommodate burnt-out city dwellers searching for simplicity.
alien-ufo-hunting-tour
Canadians are interested in unusual experiences such as UFO hunting tours. But some of these experiences can also take place in virtual reality tours.

A new report outlines the "creative reimagination" for Canadians on holiday in the months to come.

Booking.com, a Dutch online travel agency, has released the findings of its survey of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure over the next couple of years.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Canadians said they planned to travel despite global uncertainty due to the pandemic — but some interesting trends stood out in the data.

The travel agency notes that "nothing will be off limits and everything is on the menu as everyone seeks to find the right balance in a world of contradictions."

Travel Canada trends heading into 2023

Off-grid vacations

Almost a third (29%) of travellers hailing from the Great White North want a "back-to-basics" holiday with no frills, while more than half (52%) of them plan on taking an "off-grid" holiday to escape the daily grind.

Some of these travellers want to experience life with only the bare necessities (29%) or use their trip as an opportunity to learn survival skills (54%). In fact, a quarter (25%) of these adventurers want to learn how to prep for the apocalypse on vacation.

"Expect to see more eco-friendly, earthly stays springing up to accommodate burnt-out city dwellers searching for simplicity, as well as accommodations offering guidance for guests on how to be more self-sufficient, e.g. sourcing and preparing their own meals during their stay," note report authors. 

Some locals aren't planning to rough it, however. Oddly, for many people (44%) travelling "off-grid" should offer a "more indulgent stay." For example, over half (53%) of these travellers require a phone and internet connection at their destination. 

Virtual Travel

Forget flight delays, baggage loss, and costly accommodations, over a third (31%) of Canadians plan to take a virtual holiday in 2023. They can embark on multi-day VR or AR travel experiences that offer certain perks you simply can't enjoy in the "real world."

"Travellers will no longer be limited by physics, and can experiment with different travel experiences in a year when Metaverse worlds will begin replicating and reimaging destinations. Moving beyond 2023, haptic feedback, the use of touch to communicate with users, will make virtual travel a truly immersive experience, delivering a credible sense of 3D touch, such as the feel of soft grains of sand and the warmth of the sun," explains Booking.com.

While there are some perks to virtual travel, nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents said it isn't as fulfilling as the real deal. 

Delight in the Discomfort Zone

The study found that over a third (34%) of Canadians want to "experience complete culture shock in 2023," which could mean travelling to countries "with completely different cultural experiences and languages (40%) or exploring lesser-known cities with hidden gems that aren’t already on the radar (25%)."

Travellers also want to step outside of their comfort zone next year — in some very unexpected ways. Over a third (39%) of them are on the hunt for the world’s most exotic delicacy, such as the hottest chilli pepper, while over a quarter (26%) of them want to go on UFO or alien spotting tours. 

A fifth (19%) of adventurous travellers want to buy a one-way ticket and then go where the wind takes them. 

Glamorizing the Good ol’ Days 

Many Canadians (84%) want to visit nostalgic destinations in the new year, favouring experiences that were popular in the pre-digital eras.

For instance, many of them (19%) want to visit landmarks or attractions featured in iconic retro films or travel by bus. Christmas markets were also high on the list of sought-after experiences. 

But travellers are also interested in "playful" trips rather than good, old-fashioned rest and relaxation. Over half of Canadians (57%) want to visit theme parks on holiday, while others enjoy escape rooms and scavenger hunts.

Peace and Pleasure Pilgrimages

While many Canadians are eager for adventure, some of them (33%) seek mind, meditation, and mindfulness getaways. Nearly a quarter of them (24%) find peace at a silent retreat and 27 per cent of travellers want to go on a holiday that focuses on mental health.

"For those seeking enhanced spiritual experiences to stir the soul, alternative substances such as cannabis or plant-based psychedelics like ayahuasca or mushrooms will become a more mainstream offering, with 31 [per cent of travellers] keen to try this kind of experimental wellness experience as part of their 2023 travels," said report authors. 

Another unique trend is the rise in "erotic" travel, with 23 per cent of Canadians interested in everything from polyamorous retreats to bondage camps and more.

From Daily Grind to Great Company Escape

Most travellers (71%) want their holidays to be "strictly work-free." And while almost half (48%) are not interested in working while away, they would consider clocking in for a company retreat or trip. 

Over a third (35%) of the Canadian workforce is looking forward to their employer planning a work trip to bring people together and almost half (46%) would like to see their employer use the money saved from the shift to remote/hybrid working models spent on corporate travel or retreats. 

Saving to Splurge 

Nearly half of travellers (45%) say that investing in a vacation is important to them but "being budget conscious is key." Even more (65%) are looking to travel while still getting the most bang for their buck. 

Many jet-setters will time their holidays to save money (63%), while others will utilize discounts and loyalty programs (61%). Over half of Canadian travellers (52%) will look to save money by considering off-season destinations or longer routes on the journey, while the majority (57%) will be planning travel more in advance in the hope of securing a better deal.

Most travellers (51%) will also favour a long holiday or two to save money over several short ones. That said, they are still inclined to splurge on vacation, with 42 per cent of people planning to be more indulgent.

The Travel Predictions 2023 survey, commissioned by Booking.com, polled 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories, which included 503 Canadians.