June 23, 2024

Happy Travel & Tour

Specialists Travel & Tours

The Biggest Travel Trends of 2023, Predicted by Experts

The Biggest Travel Trends of 2023, Predicted by Experts

While the pandemic compelled many Americans to stay closer to home over the last few years, it also prompted pent-up demand to see the world again. By some estimates, nearly two-thirds of Americans planned to travel in 2022, and in November, the TSA screened the most passengers since the start of the pandemic.

As the year comes to a close, it’s time to start planning (or at least dreaming about) new adventures. We asked travel and hospitality experts what to expect next year. From oyster trails to sustainable menus and immersive culinary experiences like chef-led crabbing expeditions, here are the biggest travel trends of 2023. 

Food Trails

“In North Carolina, we see a trend with destinations creating food trails, which direct travelers to authentic dining experiences that reflect local and regional flavors and culture. Recent examples include the N.C. Oyster Trail, a sustainability-focused initiative that builds on the growth in aquaculture and highlights the collaboration between innovative growers and talented chefs.” — Margo Metzger, public relations director of Visit North Carolina 

“As home of the 30-location O.C. Craft Beverage Trail, we are noticing an uptick in people interested in craft beverages. Our local craft beverage makers are serving a variety of beers, wines, spirits, and ciders; in venues ranging from repurposed warehouses to sprawling farms and everything in between. We can tell from check-ins along our craft beverage trail that people are traveling from out of state and making a day trip out of it.” — Amanda Dana, director of Orange County Tourism and Film

RELATED: New Jersey Now Has an Official Pizza Trail, and You Should Go

TV Tourism

“Throughout 2022 we have seen a rise in TV tourism, with fans flocking to our shores to experience first-hand the place where their favorite shows are being filmed including HBO’s The Gilded Age and Disney’s Hocus Pocus. Travelers can have one-of-a-kind experiences that transport them back in time.” — Evan Smith, president and CEO, Discover Newport

Traveling by Train

“Culinary tourism by train is on the rise, with immersive dining experiences that allow travelers to taste their way through a destination. Experiences range from individual rail excursions, such as nostalgic four-star dinner trains in the United States and a full-day food and wine immersion in Excellence Class aboard Switzerland’s Glacier Express, to week-long cuisine and culture European rail vacations that marry authentic gastronomic experiences like cooking classes, market visits, and tastings at local wine estates with regional and high-speed rail journeys that connect each cultural capital.” — Todd Powell, co-founder and president, Vacations By Rail

RELATED: This Sake Train Running Through Japan Is Pure Magic

Frank Herfort / Getty Images

Immersive Food Experiences

“Our Hilton 2023 Trends Report revealed that nearly half of the travelers surveyed will be looking for more immersive and authentic cultural experiences next year – and one of the best ways to discover a new culture is by tasting their traditional fare or experiencing their drinking rituals. At Conrad Punta de Mita, for example, guests can visit an on-site agave tasting studio, which takes participants on a journey to really understand the region through the tastes and flavors of tequila and mezcal.” — Adam Crocini, SVP and global head, Food & Beverage Brands, Hilton

“People are taking advantage of the flourishing, native culinary options and agricultural products of a destination, whether sampling local fresh seafood or produce from a Massachusetts farm, restaurant, or culinary walking tour; uncovering the deeply rooted historic ties and traditions of in-state produced items such as craft beer and native cranberries; or curating trips around local harvests at one of over 80 Massachusetts orchard farms.” — Keiko Matsudo Orrall, executive director for the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

“We’ll see more deeply immersive experiences. I anticipate a number of F&B outlets to include heightened offerings, including cocktail classes at world class bars and cooking classes with world class chefs.” — Gabriel Sanchez, General Manager of Midnight Rambler in Dallas

RELATED: If You Eat One Cheese in Tuscany, Let It Be This

“I think we will see more chef-led and assisted tours of farms, boats or facilities in which travelers will see the entire life cycle of their food. For example, we would go crabbing in the morning, then go see the dairy farm where we source our butter, and go to the next farm to learn about the mushrooms that finish the dish. By spending an entire day with the chef, guests learn more about the components of each meal and the talented people that went into producing it. It gives a much deeper understanding of a region.” — Gregory James, executive chef of STARS restaurant at Inn at Perry Cabin in Maryland

“Today’s traveler is open to trying new flavors, and this is applicable to the Mexican spirits as well. Mexico has a huge variation and types of agave plants that translate in different types of distills — Sotol, Raicilla and Bacanora are earning their spots in great bars and menus. We are introducing a new menu that will allow our guests to discover other parts of Mexico, enjoying a great drink with these amazing distills.”  — Sergio de Landa, head mixologist at One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos

“I’ve seen culinary collaborations take off in 2022, from cultural fusions and cannabis-infused menus to catch-and-cook encounters and intimate hangouts with food served in unorthodox venues.” — Amanda Cusey, reigning Louisiana Seafood Queen

“We’ve noticed that the visitors to our community really want an immersive experience. Obviously, immersion in our cuisine, but also immersion in our culture, our people, and our history.”. — Michael Dalmau, owner, Cinclare and Thibodaux in Louisiana

RELATED: This Resort in Costa Rica’s Cloud Forest Should Be on Every Coffee Lover’s Bucket List

Auberge Resorts Collection

Zero-Kilometer Food

“Sustainability will continue to be at the forefront of food and beverage in 2023, with not only more local and seasonal products sourced by the chefs, but also a growing trend of hotels and restaurants creating their own vegetable gardens and orchards to provide fresh organic food for their guests. Globally at Relais & Châteaux, among our 580 members, we have at the moment 300 kitchen gardens, 100 properties keep bees, and 55 are wine producers.” — Laurent Gardiner, president of Relais & Châteaux and co-owner of Domaine Les Crayères and Le Taillevent in France

Many of our chefs and mixologists have focused their creative time during the pandemic on establishing zero-kilometer sourcing – going beyond the basic edible flowers and herbs to growing seasonal vegetables and harvesting honey on property. For example, our executive chef at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, Yoric Tièche, with the generosity of a local guest, established a cliffside terraced garden which now provides the lion’s share of his vegetables for our one-star Michelin restaurant, Le Cap. We’ve begun hosting private chef’s dinners in what has now become one of the most epic destination dining settings in the world.”  — Kimberly Grant, global head of restaurants and bars, Four Seasons 

“The latest travel trend I expect to see more of in 2023 is vegetable-focused sustainable farm dinners. This is not just food from the farm served in a restaurant, but interactive farms where you can learn about how and what is growing, then create a menu based on the ingredients in that season.” Ashley Abodeely, executive chef of NoMad London

“Guests are increasingly looking to have a connection to the land where produce is sourced, and the demand to visit farms or have an ‘agrication’ experience has grown exponentially.” — Michael Young, resort manager at Timbers Kauai at Hokuala in Hawaii

“The restaurants with zero-kilometer products, meaning ingredients obtained in the locality where the restaurants and environment cohabitate, will undoubtedly be the places preferred by travelers.” — Sergio Pérez Domínguez, executive chef at Mango Cocina de Origin at Casa Salles in Mexico

Zero-Proof Cocktails 

“Our chefs and mixologists are fully embracing the evolving lifestyle preferences of our guests. At many Four Seasons restaurants and bars, we have retreated from separate ‘upon request’ menus and are now integrating these dishes or beverages straight into our main menus, truly showcasing these items with an unsurpassed level of creativity and innovation.” — Kimberly Grant, global head of restaurants and bars, Four Seasons 

“The no-ABV trend continues to grow and is evolving past cocktails and onto our wine list with requests for by-the-glass options. We sourced a great zero-proof champagne, French Bloom, that’s quite popular at both Bemelmans and Dowling’s.” – Tony Mosca, Director of Food & Beverage at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in New York

“With many consumers reevaluating their relationship with alcohol, Visit Salt Lake is experiencing a pronounced expansion of non-alcoholic beverage offerings by expert mixologists in existing bars. This has given rise to mocktail-specific bars such as the Maven District’s Curiosity, a zero-proof bottle shop and bar.” — Kaitlin Eskelson, president and CEO, Visit Salt Lake, Utah 

RELATED: NYC’s First Sober Dive Bar Is a Very Good Time

“Coffee and tea are leveling up and are not afterthoughts in many restaurants. Beverage programs expand beyond spirituous beverages and curate just as compelling NA experiences.” — Avishar Barua, chef and owner of Joya’s Café in Ohio

“Expect 2023 to see even more accelerated enthusiasm for low-ABV and alcohol-free beverages, not only in lodging but in commercial F&B. It’s its own category on menus, and hotel and resort bars are absolutely building the program out further..” — Brian Contreras, director of culinary operations, Miraval Resorts & Spas

 Upgraded Frozen Cocktails

“We’re seeing frozen drinks make a comeback – this time without alcohol and focusing on fresher ingredients and less high concentrate mixtures.” — Gilbert Bolivar, Director of Food & Beverage at Innisbrook Resort in Florida

RELATED: Our Favorite Frozen Cocktails

Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Spotlight on Regional Cuisine

“Guests are getting more and more interested in discovering dishes that are unique to a region’s ingredients and preparation. For example, travelers will become increasingly more culturally aware of the differences in gastronomy from Oaxaca compared to the rest of Mexican cuisine, which is why the Mercados de Mexico tasting menu concept at our restaurant Mezcal is so popular with our guests.” — Daniel Diaz, head of food & beverage, Montage Los Cabos in Mexico

“I believe 2023 will see regionality return. Being able to travel again, we’re no longer dependent on our food and drink traveling for us. Restaurants and bars across the county will be able to focus on the cuisine and style that makes them singularly amazing and lean into traditions and terroir driven inspiration.” — Robin Wolf, co-owner of Highwater SLO in San Luis Obispo 

Zero-Waste Dining

“Getting creative and cross-utilizing foods is pertinent to mitigate food waste across the world – and it’s part of our culinary DNA. Our chefs will regularly experiment with banana peels to make plant-based bacon, convert potato peels into chips and garnishes, or even repurpose off cuts and trimmings to make mousses and rillettes, as well as using techniques like pickling, canning, and fermenting to extend product shelf life.” — Ana Esteves, vice president of hotel operations, Lindblad Expeditions

“New for 2023, our guests will learn the importance of seasonal, local, zero-waste cooking. For example, we’ll source local mahi-mahi according to St. Barts fishing regulations, using every piece of the fish, including the roe to make our signature tarama; vegetable peels are used to make unique sauces and dressings, and anything that is not edible is composted leaving no waste behind. — Vincent Gomis, the head chef, AMIS at Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa

Dramatic Dining

“If the last two to three years have shown us anything, it’s that people want to feel like they make the most of their time out and about. They want to be entertained. They want to be transported. Whether that’s from story-driven cocktail menus, inventive tableside service, or re-invented mash-ups or flavor combinations, we need to shift from traditional menu items and service to capture the theatrics and experience of dining out. A Japanese-Italian ramen carbonara in Philly? Sure! Koji-cured peppers in Milwaukee? Why not?” — Scott Gingrich, Kimpton SVP of Restaurant and Bars

“Diners want more than a good meal; they want to experience something memorable and authentic.” — Patrick Allard, food and beverage director for Grand Adirondack Hotel in New York

“Social distancing, though now behind us, has created an allure for immersive experiences, and tableside service is one of those. Venues will seek opportunities to integrate experiential moments tableside, whether with tartar or martinis or beyond.” — Jonathan Knudsen, principal, Concrete Hospitality Group

Anastasiia Krivenok / Getty Images

All-Inclusive Resorts with Really Good Food

“I foresee an uptick in all-inclusive resorts going above and beyond with their culinary offerings. Now more than ever, travelers are looking for value in their bookings. When the destination can not only offer world-class service and activities, but also a robust culinary program, the perception of value is heightened, and the overall experience is elevated.”  — Brandon Cunningham, chef at the green-o in Montana

Technology-Enhanced Dining

“More and more, we’re finding ways to incorporate technology within our everyday experiences. At BACÁN, we have a robot server named Rosie. I think we’ll be seeing even more tech enhancements going into 2023. Think augmented reality garnishes that bring cocktails to life via a mobile app or smart coaster. The ‘garnishes’ will showcase the stories behind the cocktails and offer Instagram-worthy moments for guests.” — Guillaume Robin, executive chef at Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Florida

More Food Tours

“Culinary tourism is on the rise around the world, and Montréal is certainly no exception. The city is home to a thousand and one possibilities for food tours, with flavors that transform and evolve with the changing seasons.” — Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal

“More and more, travelers are prioritizing culinary experiences during their getaways, with vacationers seeking to immerse themselves in a destination by sampling local, authentic fare unique to that area. Travelers can truly uncover a country’s culture and history through its food on Explore Worldwide’s new Food Adventures tours by tasting the delicious produce, visiting markets, sharing meals with locals, and even having a go at preparing dishes themselves.” — Michael Edwards, managing director, Explore Worldwide 

RELATED: France Has a Gourmet Food Trail That Runs From Dijon to Marseille

“Food is an integral part of culture, and our clients are demanding this aspect of travel more now than ever before, I only see this demand growing into 2023 as travelers shift their preferences for tours of the Louvre to foodie tours in Montmartre.” — Kaleigh Kirkpatrick, founder of luxury travel agency The Shameless Tourist 

Nostalgic Flavors

“Retro flavors are making a comeback; think comfort foods like creamy rice pudding and classic sticky date sponge. Our philosophy is that slow food is good food, and we are seeing that more and more with guests, too!” — David McCann, executive chef at Dromoland Castle in Ireland