Do you feel like going to an all-inclusive holiday resort in Egypt or Turkey, with all this amazing hotel food, swimming pool and without having to do anything at all?
Or maybe you would prefer an organized sightseeing tour around China, to see all the most important treasures of an ancient civilisation in just 10 days?
No? Absolutely not! You don’t feel like doing any of these.
We get you. And just so you know – you are not alone. There are more and more people wanting to spend their holidays differently. That means – engaging in meaningful experiences, in their own way.
“We’re all aware of the “experience economy”, with consumers increasingly opting to indulge in memorable experiences in favour of investing in luxury items. In 2018, I think affluent travellers will be looking to get their hands dirty with “hands-on luxury” experiences, allowing them to create enriching, evocative memories for themselves.” – Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World
This new travel trend is evident and unquestionable. But what makes us feel the need for a different kind of holidays? And why is it so important to fulfil our urge to experience?
The type of holidays that don’t tempt us anymore
When I type “why all-inclusive…” in Google, the first suggestion that appears in the drop-down completes my sentence by “…resorts are bad”. Why all-inclusive resorts are bad? Curious about this very determined statement, I click to see how popular the search term is.
12,500,000 results. And the phrase “why all inclusive is bad” has over four times more: 55,400,000! That’s enough for me to investigate further. Why are they so bad, according to my Google search? I proceed to read some of the entries.
The most harmful aspect of the all-inclusive type of vacation is how it harms local communities and environments. By concentrating foreign visitors in a limited amount of places and lowering prices as much as possible, it causes the staff working in all-inclusive resorts to be underpaid, overworked and vulnerable in many other aspects. The money tourists spend in the country goes mainly to big hotel corporations, leaving just a tiny share for the local communities.
Environmental issues include rapid changes in the natural landscape, severe littering and pollution problems. If you want to know more about the big consequences caused by all-inclusive travel – read this article from a Dominican author.
The second most commonly mentioned drawback of all-inclusive is that – more and more often – it doesn’t even satisfy the needs of the traveller. Travel bloggers and journalists who wrote entries like this one mostly agree that an all-inclusive experience is seldom what we are looking for while on vacation. The most frequently mentioned issues are:
- Isolation (no incentive, and sometimes no easy way to go out of the resort – as they tend to be secluded far away from other facilities),
- Poor quality of service/food (can you see the connection between that and underpaid/overworked staff?),
- Not being able to experience the culture of the visited country,
- No chance for meaningful interactions with the locals.
Some of those reasons are also quoted by people who complain about organised sightseeing tours. A friend of mine, who recently came back from this kind of trip, told me that she: “literally forgot what she saw at the beginning of the trip before reaching the end of her 14-days sightseeing vacation”. Moreover, she also mentioned that resting was the last thing she did during those two weeks.
There seems to be a common trait between all the travellers who are looking for something beyond the “traditional” tourism. Some unexpressed need that lays at the core of what we want from our holidays. This need already manifests in some new ways in which more and more of us choose to spend their time off.
Why and how is the “experience economy” booming?
What are we beginning to see in the tourist industry (and beyond) is the emergence of the experience economy. That indicates that the commodity that is becoming more and more precious to us is experience – and not just any kind of experience. As we are increasingly aware of our needs, we also want to enter a particular quality of experience during our vacation.
This is very connected to the way people operate in their everyday lives (before and after they’d go on holidays). It is no secret that, for many of us, the everyday routine has not only become busier – it is also very often automatic. As we realize this happening, we become aware of the need to take a break from the “autopilot mode”. And along with this awareness come new choices as to how we spend our holidays.
“Learning a new skill abroad is gaining momentum – I think we’ll see increases in expert-led study tours, gastronomy and wine tasting. Rail, cruising and wellness holidays also going to get more popular this year.” – Kate Kenward, executive director at AITO
What we are really looking for is to break the endless cycle of “work-chill-sleep” and go out of our habitual way of doing things. An out-of-ordinary experience is a great way to bring this about. We also want our travel experience to be authentic – meaning that it allows a connection with the local culture, people, Nature and/or ourselves.
The experience economy already manifests itself in the travel market in a number of ways. Some of the examples include:
- The recent launch of Airbnb experiences, where travellers can book an experience with local hosts – such as an art class or a Nature tour.
- Increasing popularity of woofing/volunteering travel, possible through websites such as Workaway.
- Affordable, shared economy travel solutions, such as Couchsurfing (you can stay for free with a local host).
- Various kinds of wellness holidays and retreats focused on personal development, healing and spirituality.
Going on your kind of holidays is ever-important
“What a lot of psychological research has shown now is that the ability to engage with people from different backgrounds than yourself, and the ability to get out of your own social comfort zone, is helping you to build a strong and acculturated sense of your own self”– Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, University of Southern California
Holidays and travelling can bring us numerous and crucial benefits – the above quote mentions just one among many. The crucial part, however, is that you can only bring those benefits into your life by going on your kind of holidays. Or, in other words – by satisfying your particular desire for an authentic and out-of-ordinary experience.
It doesn’t have to be an exotic destination that requires spending thousands on flights to get there. What is more important is to realise what your intention for this year’s holiday is – and then, to follow it. This is the easiest way to ensure that your vacation will leave you rested, energized and ready to come back to everyday challenges later on.
So, let’s answer this question: what are you looking for in this year’s holidays?
Is it to have time for self-reflection and unwinding?
Is it to spend more time outdoors, getting your body to move freely?
Is it to engage in something exciting, a challenge that pushes you to your limits?
At Lauvitel Lodge we organise a yearly Mountain Adventure Retreat that answers all the above holiday needs. During a 7-day event, we will practice daily moving meditation (Tai-Chi and Yoga) and engage in the exciting mountain activities available in this region of the French Alps. These include whitewater rafting, Via Ferrata, hikes, bivouacking, swimming in alpine lakes and more.
The activities are led and coordinated by an experienced life coach and Tai-Chi master Caroline Purkhardt. She helps you to translate the physical challenges of being out in the mountains into meaningful personal lessons.