Updated: Dec 8, 2022
For better or worse, the travel landscape has looked a lot different these last few years. As one day melted into the next, we lost our ability to properly mark occasions, athleisure had become the height of fashion, and being able to take a real vacation was still a moving target for most of us. And that has affected the way we travel. It’s been exhausting to keep up with everchanging entry requirements, which destinations have closed or reopened their borders overnight, airline delays or cancellations and don’t get me started on the summer of lost luggage.
But one fact has remained the same; our love for getting the heck out of Dodge is stronger than ever. But the world has changed, we have changed, and travel is changing right along with us. We want to celebrate again, to have reasons to get all gussied up and feel like we’re actually living, not just alive. We want to connect with people, to hear their stories and share ours; we want to learn something, to feel something, to be reacquainted with the riches of humanity. So here are five trends that are giving us just that, and they’re changing the way we travel in 2023.
1. Curated Experiences
Welcome to the next chapter of hospitality. Gone are the days of traditional bed and breakfast owners; hosts are now realizing they can provide their guests with a lot more than just a clean place to lay their heads. Loureé and Niccolò Pieranni are the owners of the beautiful Borgo di Sotto B&B in Montefollonico, Italy. There’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard of it, but that doesn’t mean the magic of a little-known medieval village in the heart of Tuscany isn’t beyond your wildest dreams. That’s exactly why you’ll want to visit. It means you’ll enjoy a slice of unspoiled Italy, devoid of the tour buses and crowds. So how do you entice visitors to a more obscure location, when you’re competing with well-known Florence and Siena? You leverage your expertise and relationships to offer guests experiences they could never deliver for themselves. This is not just about where to get the best gelato, friends; Celestiale in collaboration with Imaginaria Events, is a week-long feasting and foraging experience under the saffron skies of Autumn in Tuscany. And each discerning activity has been hand selected on your behalf.
Anybody can visit Italy and see the highlights, but not just anyone can introduce you to Adriano, the truffle hunter who will lead you through the woodlands with his pair of rambunctious Lagotti Romagnoli, seeking the world’s most glamorous mushroom (don’t come for me, it was a joke). Not just anyone can take those truffles and use them in a private pasta-making session with Nicco, a Montefollonico native, who will teach you a cherished family recipe passed down from his Mamma, Babbo, and Nonna. Your days will be spent sipping and socializing your way through boutique wineries, visiting organic bee and flower farms, tasting wildflower honey and artisanal cheeses, wandering ancient castle grounds and enjoying farm-to-table cooking classes. And your nights, well…let’s just say they will be nothing short of enchanting. You’ll indulge in moonlight soaks in thermal waters, candlelit food and wine pairings under the stars, and a private dining experience in a Tuscan castle, all before heading back to your lovingly restored 12th century accommodations.
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The word “authentic” gets tossed around a lot these days, but carefully curated experiences like these are the embodiment of authentic travel that have become so much harder to find. But who better to provide you with rich, cultural exchanges than the people who live it every single day? If you can’t make it for Celestiale, Loureé and Niccolò can still personally assist with your Tuscan itinerary, so it’s still intimate and overflowing with meaningful experiences.
2. Floating down the Nile
Palm trees, sand dunes, a mighty river, enormous crocodiles, a glamorous queen, the land of Pharaohs and thousands of years of ancient history and lore. Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience to me. An Egyptian Nile cruise channels the mystery and quests of old-world explorers with well-heeled passengers whose travel trunks were loaded onto steamships. At 4,160 miles (6,695 km) long, the Nile is one of the longest rivers in the world and was central to ancient Egyptian life. By the late 1800s, tourism had made its way to the famed estuary, and visitors began their passages on a three-week excursion where they could enjoy the exotic landscape and ancient ruins all from the gleaming decks of their hired vessels. But after a long lull, Nile cruises are once again having their moment in the sun. And luckily, today’s itineraries are equal parts adventure and fancy-pants.
Your journey starts in the bustling city of Cairo, where you can explore world-class museums, visit the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, the Temple of Luxor and Valley of the Kings, where King Tut was laid to rest. Then you’ll curl your way down the Nile and go ashore to explore Esna and the Temple of Horus and Kom Ombo and Aswan. The historical significance of a trip like this cannot be overstated, this was one of the most influential civilizations in the history of the world, and it’s yours to explore. For authentic, bespoke dahabiya accommodations (traditional sailing boats), companies like Nour el Nil, Abercrombie & Kent, and Sanctuary Retreats are leading the way.
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3. Ancestry Tourism
There has been a major boom in genealogy these last few years. Thanks to, in part, companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe who’ve eliminated the red tape and headaches of getting a blood test to prove your lineage. By essentially making these tests “over the counter,” and providing a database of historical documents and other users to make it easy to find your relatives, they’ve also given people an entirely new reason to travel: to see where their ancestors came from. Ancestry tourism is having its moment because when people find out their sixth great grandfather was an Earl in the English countryside, they want to visit and see it with their own eyes. But it doesn’t stop there. When they find out the manor he lived in is still standing, your itinerary is pretty much already planned out.
Often times people find out they are of mixed heritage. So they tack on stops to multiple locations or countries where they can explore both parentages better. Sometimes, especially with the extensive record keeping in regions throughout Europe, travelers are even able to visit local archives to explore their bloodlines further. Nothing like vacationing in a few countries to get a better feel for who you are. Because that’s what this really comes down to, right? Exploring more about what makes us, us…and where we came from. When you find out your ancestors had to endure just for you to be alive today, it gives you a perspective on your own problems you may have never had otherwise.