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Astro Tourism, Conscious Travel, Sweat Crawls: The Luxury Travel Trends For 2019

Once upon a time, travel was a luxury—but with the rise of more democratic options (seat sales, piso fares, and every other person posting a #takemeback pic on Instagram), it’s become a challenge to create an exceptional experience only a select few can aspire to.

But of course, the Crazy Rich set will always find ways—and among those looking to take the road less traveled, these are a few emerging trends to consider.


Seek a travel advisor

Gone are the days when you would head to the office of your trusted travel agent to make the arrangements; seeking the guidance of a travel advisor is the current way to go. This is someone who will go the extra mile by curating a bespoke experience, rather than drafting an itinerary that includes all the usual generic tourist traps.

Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay is among the resorts that enlists a guest experiences team, with experts (known as “experience makers”) who can offer insider ways to explore the scenery that includes yacht trips for cove-hopping and bamboo bike trails. You can also make like a local at the Northern Croatian peninsula of Istria and book a truffle hunting tour, heading into the Motovun Forest with a trained truffle-sniffing hound in tow. Of course, the best part of it all is that you can feast on your finds come evening.


If staying at a resort is not your thing, opt for a luxury vacation rental via high- end social network sites such as Stay One Degree or Beyond by Airbnb. These offer the option of ultra-exclusive and private accommodations such as a stately English manor, an upscale beachfront pad, or a fully restored villa, with members vetting each other’s credentials to ensure your estate will be given the utmost care. Currently, Stay One Degree lists over 1,000 properties in 54 countries with a portfolio that includes homes in private islands and a membership base of about 10,000 people only. Members need to be within one degree of separation, so it feels less like crashing in a complete stranger’s digs and more like being hosted by a trusted friend of a friend.



Another increasingly coveted experience is gaining access to a destination during off-hours, like Beyoncé and Jay Z with their priceless solo Mona Lisa photo opportunity at the Louvre. Maybe you want to enjoy?a sunrise picnic with a view of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue, or you’d like to explore the hallowed halls of the Vatican well before it opens to the church-going crowd. This should save you the trouble of having to digitally erase everyone else out of the picture, at least.

Or maybe you’re looking to be in the middle of a crowd—but from the comfort of box seats. Impossible-to-get tickets to sporting events are another hot item, such as prime spots at Wimbledon or a great view of the Super Bowl. For those looking to experience the thrill of cheering in the stands, bear in mind that Kyoto, Japan is hosting this year’s Rugby World Cup starting September 20.


READ: EIC Raul Manzano’s Luxury Guide To Hong Kong



Go for conscious travel

As we are living in an age when we are more “woke” than ever, luxury travelers are seeking to offset the ecological footprint generated by intercontinental air travel by choosing brands that practice responsible tourism. This includes supporting local businesses, protecting the integrity of the environment it is built into, or giving back via a tie-up with a homegrown charity.

Pairs who are seeking to consciously couple can go the extra mile by booking a sustainable wedding at Thailand’s Aleenta Hua Hin Resort and Spa. You can participate in a mangrove planting ceremony after exchanging vows and schedule a visit to a local wildlife center. Take note, as well, that the food served during your reception will be sourced from the hotel’s own organic farm.

As for your honeymoon—studies have shown that when couples go through novel and stimulating experiences together, it can create a spike in feel-good hormone dopamine, bringing about emotions of euphoria and bliss. (Why else do you think The Bachelor likes to whisk its contestants away to fantasy suites in far-flung locales?) It makes sense, then, for a romantic getaway to be turned into an adrenaline-spiked escape, with guided tours through exotic territory and adventures such as trekking through the Arctic lands of Norway, camping under the stars in Tibet, puma-spotting in Patagonia, or a stay-in program with the tribes of Papua New Guinea, where your ultimate takeaway will be a full cultural immersion and a greater understanding of humankind.


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Another form of tourism gaining popularity as of late is voluntourism—though? it has also raised ethical questions among those who feel that, despite best intentions, companies looking to profit by exploiting the sob stories of impoverished locals may end up doing more long-term harm than good. Make sure to do your research before signing up, but one way to ensure impact? is to focus on a smaller scale, as in the case of social enterprise PichaEats in Kuala Lumpur. Here, you can enjoy a meal hosted and prepared by a refugee, giving you the chance to get to know them through the most intimate way possible: food.


Go on self-care retreats

They say health is wealth—so one way to preserve your wealth is by dedicating an entire trip to enhancing your well-being. The Grand Hotel Toplice in Bled, Slovenia, is built around a thermal spring; it is said that if you drink the water upon waking up in the morning, it will soothe your stomach and revitalize your body.

For some, nature is the ultimate healer, and travelers are planning trips according to the stars by chasing eclipses, the Northern Lights, and super moons. This is known as Astro Tourism, perhaps a precursor to actual commercial space travel while we wait for it to make its much-anticipated debut.


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If getting physical is your ultimate high, join a sweat crawl. Companies like SweatCon Rally in the US organize workout classes at boutique fitness studios so you can sweat it out with like-minded (read: just as competitive) individuals for a bonding experience that promises endorphins in place of a hangover. On the schedule this year are events in Boston, New York, and Washington DC, and in the end, you’ll have toned abs rather than a beer gut to show for it.

On the other end of the spectrum: what if your idea of self-care involves nourishing your body with the most indulgent eats? Culinary travel is another trend that is going strong, with foodies planning itineraries around Michelin-starred restaurants, street markets, and hole-in-the-wall gems for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hotels have also been known to offer customized dining menus to guests who would prefer not to even leave their rooms, while the more experimental and hands-on can sign up?for cooking classes where they can experience preparing local delicacies with freshly sourced ingredients. Bonus points if the session comes with its own liquor selection and wine pairings, as no great meal would be complete without.


READ: The Top 5 Cities For Serious Foodies—Where You Can’t Ever Have A Bad Meal


Pick short, weekend trips

A recent survey on revealed that 53 percent of global travelers intend to take more weekend breaks?in 2019. This is giving rise to a movement toward micro-travel, where people favor short two to three-day escapes over week- or month-long trips. In this case, it’s more about quality over quantity as travelers ?are looking to pack their itineraries with meaningful experiences to make even a short getaway worth their while. A segment who is taking advantage of this are the Bleisure travelers, a.k.a. those who try to mix business with pleasure by extending their business trips in a city for a day or two so they can also take the time to explore.

Among families, it’s become more and more common for parents to take kids on a quality time trip—rather than transporting the entire brood, parents will choose to take one child on vacation at a time so they can give them their undivided attention. For busy parents, there is also the option? of Skip-Gen Traveling, where grandparents take over the duty of planning a trip with the grandkids. This gives lola and lolo the opportunity to have their own bonding moments and celebrate certain milestones, taking into consideration as well that they may have more free time upon retirement to indulge in longer, substantial getaways.

For those who have the means to take an extended leave, there is also the rise of the nomadic sabbatical. This allows the entire family to travel the world and let life-changing experiences be their kids’ best teacher. Instagram accounts like @thebucketlistfamily and @byjetpack are inspiring families to take the time out to see the globe with their children in tow; plus, with the growing trend toward homeschooling and more flexible freelance work arrangements for the adults on the horizon, it’s now become viable for the whole family to take part in their own gap year.



This article was originally published in Metro Society Vol. 16 Issue 5.