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2020 Travel Trends & Bucket Lists 

 

A sense of wonder envelops you upon entering Madhavi and Kumar’s home in Bengaluru. Here you spot a Barong mask from Bali, there you spy a windchime with mini-Eiffel towers treating your ears to gentle atmospheric music. As you walk through the colourful main hall, Oktoberfest beer mugs catch your eye, then your neck swivels to admire the miniature cow from Switzerland. Travel all over the world in their home, souvenirs aplenty showcasing their adventures. A couple most inspiring, aren’t they? We were in awe too!

 

The Bengaluru couple themselves were inspired by one of their wedding gifts – a DIY travel album. Since their marriage three years ago, they have set out to ardently fill the pages and by doing so, gradually fell in love with travel as well. The pair have found their bliss in prepping for their next escapade, taking inspiration from a Pico Iyer quote, “Serendipity is our tour guide, assisted by caprice!” They have been to over 12 countries together and they plan to reach 30 ASAP. Which brings us to an interesting little piece of trivia, 30-by-30 travel goals is the booming trend across Indian social media at the moment. 

 

We’re seeing an increase in the number of Indians like Madhavi and Kumar who are keen to explore faraway lands, experience the culture and embark on the road less travelled. Indians are experiencing an all-time travel high currently and we at Pickyourtrail are here to give you an in-depth insight into how Indians travel. We’ve done our homework on the how, why and where Indians are travelling, and the conclusion: we Indians love travelling beyond compare! 

 

Here are some numbers for you – at the start of the millennium, only about 5 million Indians were travelling away from the homeland. Presently, over 20 million Indians are jetting off in search of new opportunities and experiences. From UNWTO’s data, we can expect that this number will exponentially increase to 50 million in the following three years. 

 

The handy blue book, the mighty Indian Passport gives you visa-free access to 50+ countries, and more! 

 

Think about this fact, there are 75 million passports in India, but only 20 million people seem to be travelling? This tells us that in a few years, there’s going to be a whole new set of Indians travelling abroad. There are not as many visa restrictions for Indian passport holders. The Indian Passport is rather powerful, ranking at 59 on the power index. This indicates that Indians can go to 59 countries without a visa or with a mere visa-on-arrival. Besides, if you have an Indian passport along with a valid US visa, you have unrestricted entry to around 15 countries such as the Philippines, Columbia and more. We’re seeing visa barriers gradually disappearing, and India is ready to explore the world.

 

A Times of India report denoted that travel seems to be among the top reasons for Indians spending money internationally. There are more Indians out there like Madhavi and Kumar who are excited to travel and explore the world. We at Pickyourtrail are quite enthused, more value to the Indian Passport! The data from the report marks an exponential growth in outbound travellers. Yet another curious thing is the ever-changing preferences of Indian tourists. Trends such as wanting to travel in groups, experiencing the local traditions and sampling the regional delicacies, all show a remarkable effect on the growth of the economy. 

 

The laidback average Indian and how times have changed them

 

A famous someone once said, “It’s precisely those who are busiest who most need to give themselves a break.” We Indians seem to be taking him for his word, and ensuring we take leisurely breaks now and then. There’s been a dramatic change in India’s holiday patterns; no more settling only for domestic trips, but broadening our horizons with international visits too. 

 

Indeed, Indians are travelling more often! We seem to be going on vacations at least once a year, barring business and family visits. 

 

Who is travelling the most?

 

Once upon a time, travelling outside the country was thought to be a luxury for working professionals or reserved for education. Now, among the 21 million Indians travelling abroad, India Tourism noticed that more than 25% of said travellers are on a holiday out of the country. As we see an increase in the number of outbound travellers from India, the holiday traveller numbers are seeing a 25% increase per year.

 

Explosive economy, incredible internet, joyful tourists

 

India was ranked by the UNWTO as one of the fastest-growing outbound markets in the world, with a 25% increase in the volume of travellers each year. India enjoys a relatively young population in comparison to densely populated countries like China. 

 

In the year 2013, Indians only took an international trip every 21 months. Now, we travel abroad once a year! 

 

The digital India move by the Modi government has also impacted the outbound travel numbers. The number of Indian internet users was 432 million in 2016 and has been increasing at an 8% rate, as per research conducted by market research firm IMRB International. The same research notes that overall internet penetration is 31% in India. Thanks to this extra exposure to the internet, the average Indian has more chance to see the world around him and be motivated to travel. 

 

With a stable GDP growth, raising economy and larger spending incomes, the idea of travelling is more accessible and to the growing Indian middle-class population. And now thanks to the tremendous increase in the number of low-cost airlines, more and more Indians are earning their frequent flyer miles! 

 

The grand Indian family holiday(s)

How do Indian’s plan?

 

The world has become their oyster, Indians are eyeing a minimum of one international vacation per year. The frequency of Indians taking a leisure trip abroad was 21 months in the year 2013. Currently, there’s been a steep reduction to 13 months, which works out to one trip a year. We Indians are hard at work the whole year, choose domestic places for the small holidays, but then schedule a proper family vacation at a marvellous international destination. 

 

Since Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was released, Spain noted an 80% increase in Indian tourists. 

 

We’ve noticed that Indians travelling abroad always like to make the most of their holiday. An international leisure trip lasts for 12-14 days on an average, when it comes to places like New Zealand, Australia or Europe. Whereas places such as Bali, Thailand, Singapore in SouthEast Asia are convenient to reach and hence the average stay is between 5 and 7 days. 

 

Re-conceptualising the free independent traveller

 

Priyanka and Dharmender Dubey initially approached Pickyourtrail to plan their honeymoon trip, their chosen destination being the Andamans. The couple was unaware that an equally accessible, gorgeous international destination like Bali was available at the same price as a domestic holiday! They were certainly in for a pleasant surprise when we told them they could fly abroad to celebrate their honeymoon. They penned down their stay at beautiful Bali for us to read! 

 

Defining the Indian traveller is no easy task – with some people travelling for adventure, others for food and many others merely to tick off another country from their travel map of the world. Like the honeymooners who earlier went to the Andamans, now going to Bali or families who take yearly holiday trips to Switzerland and Iceland – Indian travellers are emerging into budding travellers. Not only are they taking international breaks, the average Indian spends more money than American travellers; with a UNWTO report stating that Indian travellers’ average spending is $1200 while the Americans only spend $700. A significant reason for this change in consumer behaviour is the accessibility of international vacations.  

 

Did you know? The average Indian traveller spends $1200 when abroad compared to the meagre $700 that Americans spend!

 

We at Pickyourtrail lovingly call travellers like Priyanka and Dharmender, FIT or the Free Independent Traveller. The FIT abhor scheduled travel with mundane coach tours, adore planning their travel and cherish itinerary-free days. These travellers love exploring a place at their own pace, taking in a new country’s signature cuisine, varied culture and identity. Therein lies our motto – unwrap the world. 

No longer, just solo travellers or energetic backpackers, FITs are all-inclusive with families and friend groups who hate trudging the road oft taken. We categorise our FITs in two broad sections – the young adventurers and the Family travellers.

 

The young adventurer

The singular trend amidst the young Indian adventurers and honeymooners is to travel to lesser-known destinations and attend popular global festivals. 

 

First-time international travellers largely comprise of young Indians in the 24 to 35 age group. They are solo trippers, honeymooners or Double-Income-No-Kids (DINK) couples. 

 

Honeymooners form the majority of the total travellers we receive at Pickyourtrail. Since these first-time travellers belong to an age bracket that affords them a certain amount of monetary freedom, they prefer more adventurous experiences. Whether it’s trekking up volcanoes in Bali or bungee jumping in New Zealand, they are willing to splurge on an adrenaline-fueled escapade.

 

The family

The other big travellers in the leisure market in India are families with children. Annual big holidays with the entire family have now become international ones. We’ve seen families travelling together to road trip along the Icelandic glaciers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights or those that travel to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries in Egypt! While there’s a lesser spending power for Indian families in comparison to their younger counterparts or solo travellers, they make the most of their holidays by maxing out on the activities and sightseeing.

 

Watch out, the Great Indian family vacations have gone international. Europe, NZ, we’ll be there with the fam!

 

One of our travellers, Navin Ragade, is a man with many travel feathers in his cap. His family, however, had their first-ever international vacation to Thailand recently. A special commemoration to celebrate his wife’s birthday, it’s a trip that will always be a fond memory to his family. Navin is already set to plan his next international holiday. Read his story here

 

Following the Indian traveller: Popular vacations

 

Audrey Hepburn is famously quoted, “Paris is always a good idea.” Our travellers certainly agree, nodding their heads vigorously in response. 

 

Last week, we spoke to a traveller who had returned after a 2 week trip to three countries: France, Switzerland and Austria. To an outsider that might seem like a rushed vacation, but Prashanth did not agree. He was most eager to explore as many places in Europe as he could! 

 

Another family has just touched down from the UK – London and Ireland, their toddlers in tow! Samuel Johnson quotes were a constant for Mithila in London, and Ireland spellbound her with its tremendous beauty. From building toy castles in Legoland to getting a hair’s breadth away from the Royal family at Buckingham Palace, and road-tripping through gorgeous Ireland. Check out their story here.  

 

Indeed, Europe does capture the hearts of Indians in a uniquely special way!

 

Where do we vacation?

According to UNWTO reports, 20% of outbound Indian travellers set out to Europe for their holidays; their preferred European countries being France, UK, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. Tourism boards in Europe have taken note of this, and have been most welcoming to Indian travellers. There’s a certain charm about Europe that calls to backpackers, honeymooners and families alike. 

 

South-East Asia is becoming a fast favourite with Indian travellers. New Zealand, Europe and Australia are popular spots as well!  

 

A fair share of the outbound Indian traffic is taken up by New Zealand and Australia. The UNWTO reports 10% of Indian tourists are heading out to these countries. These two countries are fast becoming popular for the adrenaline junkies: Australia’s outbacks, in particular, are a fan favourite for adventure tourism. Following closely behind is New Zealand with incredibly terrific Jet Boating escapades and the infamous Nevis Swing, the world’s biggest swing! 

 

The majority of Indian travellers set their sights to the Asia Pacific region, in particular, Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. The reason most Indian tourists choose South East Asian destinations is twofold, the first being the proximity and that in turn, reduces travel time. Despite being international destinations, they don’t take Indians too far away from their home comforts, there’s familiarity in terms of food and culture, all of these provides a sense of safety. This is especially crucial for the first time outbound Indian travellers.

 

When do we go for our vacations?

 

Summer holidays aren’t far away. Started planning yours yet? Pickyourtrail on your SOS!

 

Although the new age Indian traveller is constantly morphing, some things never change. India takes its vacations in the summer months, often coinciding with the school holidays between April and June. So it’s no surprise that Tourism India has concluded that half the travellers plan their international trips in this period. 

 

We’re in love with summers! Close to 50% of Indian travellers take their international vacations in between April and June.

 

A rather surprising fact we’ve found is that the section of Indians that sought out local hill stations for their winter staycations is now shifting their sights to exotic international locations. Travellers going to international destinations from October to December exceed 25% of the overall numbers. Winter vacations are especially interesting for us on the equator, find out what they have in store for you.

 

Vacation planning: Breaking the barriers of boring itineraries

More and more Indian travellers are moving from the pre-packaged tours and towards becoming Free Independent Travellers. While independent travellers do take up a huge part of India’s travel base, there’s still plenty of room for the age-old travel agencies. The research firm Integreon recently released a report highlighting that around 80% of travellers prefer going through travel agents for their vacation planning. The self-planning travellers remain a minority to this day.

 

Always breaking barriers, India now books 20% of their vacations online. A major shift from the era of traditional travel agents!

 

This 20% minority is increasing slowly, however. This is one of the reasons we at Pickyourtrail seek out to be a Tech & Touch company, where there continues to be a human touch but also allowing room for technology and expertise play their roles in vacation planning. One tends to associate travel agents with monotonous itineraries and loads of tedious back and forth conversations. With online tech travel corporates like us, these barriers are torn down. With that, comes freedom and pride of self-planning and customization, all the while supported with the speed of technology.

 

Vacation planning: not for the faint-hearted!

Our research indicates that most travellers look through about 30 sites online while planning their vacation. People tend to get their flights from one place, hotels in another site and yet another for miscellaneous minutiae. There’s a dearth of sites that offer you a complete travel experience. Now, welcome to Pickyourtrail!  

 

A traveller from Bengaluru, Vikas Kyatsandra, booked his family’s summer holiday to Singapore and Thailand in a mere 2 hours. Yeah, you read that right. Thanks to Pickyourtrail, his entire 10-day vacation was sorted in just 2 hours. This is not the average planning experience for the common man, who usually takes months of planning to achieve one international vacation. 

 

Nearly 50% of Indian travellers book their international vacations with just 30 days of travel ahead of them! 

 

PATA reports show that the process of planning an international vacation takes about double the time of the actual booking procedure. From what we’ve observed, Indians tend to book their trips closer to their selected travel dates. Close to 45% travellers book their vacations a month before their departure, whereas 25% take the cautious route with a safety net of 1 to 3 months before their travel date. Curious still, there’s a surprisingly large 25% who book their travel a mere one week before they take off!

 

Where will India set off to in the coming years?

The acclaimed Julia Roberts’ hit movie, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ lit up the silver screen across the world, in 2010. Overnight, Bali jumped to the top of everyone’s bucket list. With most of the world already heading there, India was only then waking up to the world of international travel. Lacking the current convenience of low-cost airlines, your wallets would have been stressed with the flights alone!

 

The Bali bet

In 2013, the year we launched Pickyourtrail, not too many travel agents marketed Bali as a top destination for nearby international travel. Malaysia and Thailand were more prominent suggestions from travellers and agents alike.

 

Pickyourtrail banked on Bali, and we haven’t looked back since! The small island country’s value-for-money vacations are a sounding horn to Indians who prefer closer destinations, with less of a strain on their wallets. Indians truly live out their millionaire dreams in Bali with 5-star accommodations offered at 3-star rates and partake in the friendly, easygoing Balinese culture. Today, Bali is one of the top budget destinations for honeymooners, families and adventure seekers alike. Check out the top-notch sights in hold for you at Bali.

 

Emerging Tourist Destinations: Top 5 in 2019, Continue to be in 2020

Popular Destinations in 2019-20

 

Here’s Pickyourtrail’s 2020 predictions for the top locations among Indian tourist’s travel lists. 

 

We foresee South Africa, Seychelles, Eastern Europe, Australia and New Zealand will be among the favourite destinations for travellers in 2020.

 

Check out our bucket list for 2020! You’ll find multiple reasons to pack your bags and fly away there too!

 

1. Seychelles

The upcoming Maldives of 2020, Seychelles is a traveller’s paradise. Seychelles pulls ahead among most islands across the world for the ideal idyllic holiday. With an increase in the workforce pressures, holidays are fast becoming much-needed stress busters, and demand for leisure vacation spots will in turn boom. 2015 saw about 8000 Indians visiting Seychelles, but this number has increased by 40% in just 4 years. The serene islands of Seychelles are on the top of our list for this upcoming year, why even Prince William and Kate Middleton celebrated their wedded bliss there!

 

The Royal Effect has certainly boosted Seychelles’ tourism, and it is now a sought after romantic holiday destination.

 

Top reasons for Indians to head out to Seychelles in 2020: 

  • Visa-exemption for Indian nationals 
  • Direct flights from Mumbai to Seychelles
  • Indian travellers do not require an international driving license
  • Affordable accommodation options

 

2. Australia

Data from Australian Tourism reveals that the top five drivers for Indians travelling Down Under are Australian beaches, iconic landmarks, wildlife, food & wine and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s no surprise that in recent times, about 2,70,000 travellers have visited Australia, a 15% increase from the previous year. 

 

Inaugurated in 1973, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

We’re keeping a keen eye on the Land Down Under for 2020 travel destinations. Have your pick of reasons for why Oz should be on your vacation list: 

  • Australia’s Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth have been honoured among the Top 10 world’s most liveable cities. Melbourne has had a place on the list for a whopping seven consequent years. 
  • Caretaker to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Australia’s shores are home to the Great Barrier Reef. Its bountiful colours and diverse marine life are truly a once in a lifetime visit, if not more! 
  • Indian’s believe Australian food & wine to be the best in the world. Masterchef Australia doesn’t make false promises; the vast variety of cuisines here is like nowhere else. 
  • Australia’s ease of visa access with an online application procedure. Those with a decent travelling history may even qualify for a multiple entry, three-year visa.

 

3. South Africa

South Africa holds India at a special place. With Indians ranking 8th on the international arrivals, the country is sure to have a soft spot for India. In the last year, more than 80,000 Indians have been to South Africa; there’s an expected increase to 1 lakh travellers and beyond! 

 

Observe South Africa’s Big Five animals: the lion, leopard, rhino, cape buffalo and the elephant. Find Zebras, too! 

 

So, why should you visit the country? We’ve compiled a list: 

  • With thrilling wildlife safaris, in open back and nighttime variants, South Africa is an emerging adventure destination. 
  • Relatively economical on the wallet with15-night vacation packages starting at INR 1 lakh onwards. 
  • You have your choice of 3000 adventures for your adrenaline junkie needs.
  • South Africa is the singular gold-star location for wildlife photography. 
  • With visa restrictions considerably lifted for Indian citizens, the procedural norms are faster too. 

 

4. New Zealand

With Bollywood heartthrob Siddharth Malhotra chosen as the face of New Zealand’s tourism campaign, India has awoken to the treasures of this heavenly country. Yet to be explored extensively, we predict that couples and families will seek out NZ for their 2020 summer vacation.

 

New Zealand is the place to go for daredevils seeking the ultimate thrills. 

 

The land of the Kiwis is certain to pop up on many bucket lists and here’s why:

  • An excellent destination for travellers for love self explorations. New Zealand is best explored on self-driven cars, road trips abundant!
  • Although lacking direct flights, there’s the convenience of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok for short layovers. 
  • Most Indians take their Christmas and spring vacations in New Zealand, between November and March. This proves fruitful as the weather is usually wonderful at these times! 
  • Whether you’re in for the adventures or relaxation, on a honeymoon or with family, NZ is beloved by all travellers. 

 

5. Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe remains a mystery even to the frequent travellers, a part of the world yet to be discovered. Often thought as a backpacker’s paradise, we predict more travellers heading out here in the coming years. Unparalleled landscapes, cuisine and culture, East European countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Russia and Hungary are hotspots to watch. The colourful Russian spires, legendary stories of the Kremlin, the unique but comforting gastronomy, all call out to travellers eager to explore history and culture. Whereas Prague and Austria are the places to go for those seeking romance, rustic architecture, refreshing beers and decadent food. 

 

Take a page out of the Game of Thrones’ set locations, head out to lovely Croatia.

 

So why should you go to Eastern Europe? 

  • A melange of modern and medieval, Eastern Europe is sure to be a unique travel experience 
  • Several popular TV series and movies scout their set locations here 
  • Relatively inexpensive in comparison to their more travelled western cousins such as Italy or France 
  • Kind and generous with their time, the people of Eastern Europe are sure to have a special mention in your travel diaries. 

 

Our anthem for 2020 is to live without making excuses and travel without regrets. What say you to our bucket list? Alluring, or do you have other destinations in mind? Happy travels!