We have come a long way since holidays in and of themselves were considered a luxury. In our era, taking some time off during the year to indulge yourself with a trip and expand your horizons is considered an absolute necessity. Yet, there is still a type of travel reserved for the few lucky among us: luxury vacations. But are they still that popular – and what does a luxury vacation make?
What Is Luxury Traveling?
The basics that make a trip successful – besides knowing how to pack everything that you’ll possibly need – are the people you go with, and the destination. For many of us, an exotic destination is in and of itself enough for a trip to qualify as luxury traveling – but there is quite more than that. A luxury trip is also defined by the way you travel, where you stay, and what kind of activities you get to do while away. And, often, the destination does not even have to be famous, as BMW’s secluded luxury hotels list proves. The top seven most breathtaking yet remote hotels range from 14 lush villas in stunning Awasi Patagonia in Chile, all the way to the White Desert Camp in Antarctica, conveniently located near an emperor penguin colony of roughly 6,000 birds and a stone’s throw from the South Pole – a once in a lifetime experience for $72,000 for eight days.
Yet, it is evident that those prices are not for everyone, which might give us some insight as to why luxury traveling might be declining. While the international jet-setter is still happy to pay a lot for the opportunity to enjoy memorable holidays – and Harper’s Bazaar can even advise you on which resorts to book if you’d like to rub shoulders with celebrities – it seems that the priorities of the average traveler are quite different. Choosing an exotic trip seems like a luxury many people cannot afford – not even if they won a million dollars. According to a survey by Betway, consumers are more concerned about what they perceive as the bare necessities, and even if they won $1 million, 43% of UK respondents stated that they would buy a house, 15% that they would pay off their mortgage, and only 13% said they would give themselves a little gift and go on a luxury holiday.
Redefining a Luxury Trip
The picture is similar in the US: according to the same survey, 38% of respondents prioritized paying off their debt, 26% said they would buy a house, 17% would like to see their mortgage paid back, and 5% would invest into buying a new car. Just 4% stated that they’d use their newfound fortune to go on a luxury vacation. This difference is all the more stark when we consider the average budget that people from around the world plan to spend on their summer holidays. The Swiss top the list at €2,710, followed closely by Austria and the US at just over €2,640, while Germany and Belgium finish off the top five at €2,376 and €2,318 respectively. In India and the UK, travelers will spend just over €2,200 and Brazilians look to spend €1,238 on average. It is obvious that unless you somehow score an amazing offer to stay at Hilton, these figures are not enough to plan a luxury trip.
But perhaps it is time to revisit the definition of luxury. In the past, a luxury trip was the only way to get to see what faraway places looked like, taste the local cuisine, and get to know another culture. While there is still merit to that thought, it is in large part obsolete, as technological developments and the advent of the internet have offered us the chance to experience foreign places from the comfort of our homes. Meanwhile, as traveling became more popular and prices dropped, it is no longer necessary to travel in luxury in order to get far away – there are even low-cost transatlantic flights and great deals for off-peak season. What people seem to focus on more than ever, is the experience of traveling: tourists are eager to get hands-on with culinary trips, alternative holidays, and even combining holidays with learning a new craft. Eco-tourism and getting in touch with nature in wildlife tours seem to have gained momentum, as we are absorbed by the hectic concrete jungle we call our home.
Luxury traveling might be declining but it is far from over – we just have to reinvent it.