Talking about trends, Hari Ganapathy, cofounder, PickYourTrail, says, ” Multi-generational family vacations are emerging as a predominant choice among a lot of travellers. These vacations are planned around major family occasions like anniversaries, 60th birthdays, graduation day etc. A lot of people are also gifting vacations these days – this ranges from cousins gifting honeymoon vacations to youngsters gifting anniversary holidays to their parents. The doctor community too is making a huge impact in the travel space by going on regular international holidays once in a while – here we are talking about families of at least 5 doctors travelling abroad at least twice a year! Also, a lot of grandparents approach us to book an experiential vacay with their grandchildren.”
Surprise vacations have been quite a trend these days with partners gifting each other surprise vacays. Talking to DC about the good options , Rathi Nilakantan, founder of The Duchess Travel Wing, says “For me a perfect surprise vacation would be a beach resort, if my husband is planning it. I would like it if somebody surprises me with a spa vacation on an island.”
While on a surprise holiday in some of the major cities like New York City or London, Rathi would be totally absorbed in food trails and check out the gastronomical food in Michelin star restaurants.
Kausalya Padmanabhan of Destinations Unlimited shares cruise ships are quite popular these days. “While Mediterranean and Alaska cruises are very popular, a lot of honeymooners opt for river cruises as these are small and more personalised.”
Going against the grain is Kausalya’s way of travelling. “We do a lot of Turkey, Greece, South America, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Scandinavian countries. This year we sent a group of people from India to Mongolia, which was totally out of the ordinary and exciting. We are also looking at Georgia, Beirut and Iran and a lot of offbeat places. Like this year we did France and we did not even touch Paris. We went down south.”
Kausalya believes just visiting a place is not enough. ” Today people are looking for experiences and not ‘bucket list ticked off’- those days are gone. And travelling is an education in itself.”
She says how important it is to try out that local food from the local markets. ‘When we arrange the trip, we do not serve Indian food. Joining a chef in on a culinary walk, a cooking class for an hour are what give the patrons a local flavour and for us everything is localised. And we also plan the trip in such a way that the travellers get to see the local festivals when they are happening. Like, we arranged a trip during a music festival at Avignon and during the Naadam festival at Mongolia. “
For Kausalya, curating a trip in keeping with the local culture is important. A cup of coffee with the Maharana of Udaipur or dinner with the Maharaja of Orchha – isn’t that exciting?
MakeMyTrip echoes the same thoughts. “instead of a plain vanilla holiday, millennials are looking to satiate their wanderlust by traveling to remote locations, participating in authentic cultural tours like wine trails, culinary walks and adventure sports, and planning bachelorette’s outside India, among others.”
Staying with the locals is another trend going on now. “While Indian travellers often find themselves choosing between adventure and historical tranquility, there are many who spend time on zeroing down their stay property. As travellers look for deeper and richer local experiences, there is an increasing appetite for ‘home-away-from-home’ or alternative accommodations – and this pattern is gaining immense traction on our platform as well.”
Cruise tourism is still at a very nascent stage in India but has a lot of potential in the country. As Nalini Gupta of Costa Cruises says,” Ours was the first cruise liner to homeport ships in Mumbai and to have successfully completed three seasons which happen from November to February-March. It looks encouraging but a better infrastructure and a clear cruising policy are the need of the hour.”
Nalini believes it goes a little easier on the pocket too for the middle class who can also avail themselves of the experience from an Indian port itself instead of flying abroad which increases the total travel cost a great deal. Currently Nalini offers sailing from Mumbai, Kochi and Maldives.
Salman Merchant, a travel blogger, who has sailed from Palermo to Barcelona shares, “The thing with cruising is the entire experience of visiting different locations . When we travelled, we stopped at three locations on our way and got a whole day. The experience is very different, given nowadays cruises have a lot of many amenities in them.”
Hot air balloon sailing is yet another beautiful experience that one can get and Tamil Nadu has its very own international balloon festival in Pollachi during Pongal time. Benedict Savio of Global media box tells DC,” When we started first, it was just 5,000 to 6,000 people and now we are into our 6th year and this year we have touched around 70,000 people. Balloons are invited from foreign countries including Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil and they come in so many fun designs. 100-200 people will go for the feather ride (which is just reaching 100 km and coming back) and 20-30 people will go for a 1-hour regular ride.
The company, behind the festival, is now planning to start daily balloon rides next year.
S. Ravichandran, who has been a witness to the spectacular event, says, “People used to go far for this kind of events but now we have it in our very own Pollachi.