Social or community travel: a trend here to stay.

Gone are the days of 10 days 6 countries in a bus packed with tourists who are just hungry to tick off the must do’s in every country, or at least the trend is going down and fast. The days of ‘dabbas’ (food packages) being carried with enough food for a score of people for 10 days when actually just two people would actually be travelling. Today’s traveller is looking to experience and how. Off the beaten path, their itineraries are now a cocktail of the traditional hotspots of travel shaken and stirred with experimental experiences. Social or community travel lately is the go to, as people around the world seek to engage with new cultures and meet new people and most importantly, experiment.It’s a trend that’s on the rise, with hostels and new age travel ‘experience’ companies at the helm of the shift, social travel however is not a new concept. Far from it. There has always been a tribe of wanderlust travellers seeking out social experiences at every turn. Today, however, that number is growing.

Hostels, travel apps, experiences, travel startups, and more;  social travelling has been a revelation in the way we travel and experience the world. In 2012, it was announced as ‘The Travel Trend’ and even today, we cannot un-see its growing popularity among the millennial and bloomers. It is not a concept which will fade any time soon. For the present and next generation , explorers, itinerants, and extroverts, it is something that is meant to last for a long time. The young choosing experiences over materials is a welcome sign as well. Alan Watts’ must be a man grinning with smiles today. Some of the core reasons why people are choosing to ‘social travel’ or ‘community travel’ are thought upon below:

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1. MEETING NEW PEOPLE:

Most important on this list, as one meets new people and spends time travelling with them, they are exposed to a plethora of different ideas and perspectives of people and their cultures, and this goes a long way in expanding their view of the dynamic world.

2. BREAKS:

The average individual today works harder and faster and eventually sees more burnout of the mind, body and all things associated. Social pressures, competition, family pressures are on the high side, resulting in frequent short breaks or longer ‘switch offs’ to rejuvenate and rekindle passions.

3. THRILLS:
Adventure isn’t the only definition of thrill. Thrills today today are spread across various experiences which could give you hair raising experiences. Music sessions, movies, adventure sports, art forms, and process learnings that are new and experimental.
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4. SOCIAL SKILLS:

As more corporates and companies are focussed on developing people skills, the impetus on the subject is a welcome measure. Individuals are today realising the importance of social skills that are imperative to a successful and happy life. The world becoming smaller everyday, requires one to be more aware, empathetic and in synch with global cultures and people.

5. BORDERLESS NETWORKING:

Companies like Questerra are adding networking events on their experiences where people of a similar interest or profession group can travel, network & eventually grow while on tour. Networking on travels is a double edged sword that works for travellers to have fun and make meaningful connections that can be mutually beneficial with time.
Companies and startups like Contiki, Airbnb, Questerra, Besettled etc are working towards making travel a more social manoeuvre and thriving at it. Valuations of Airbnb are the highest they have ever been, Contiki has expanded boundaries across the world, Questerra in under a year is operating tours around 15 countries already.

A hostel industry report from Phocuswright, commissioned by Hostelworld in 2016, revealed that 35 percent of millennials are choosing a hostel because of the opportunity to meet other travellers from various locations, and a around 29 percent for the “fun, hospitable and social environment” that they provide. As most hostel travellers reaffirming that they ‘plan to travel as much of the world as possible’ in their lifetime, this trend is like to grow. The report also revealed that the hostel industry is projected to grow at a healthy 7 – 8 percent y on y, highlighting immense opportunities for continued growth globally to accommodate this trend on the rise. So much so, the leading hotel chains of the world like Hilton, Marriot & Accor to name a few, are also adding smaller, boutique and social ‘hostel’ like facilities and services across some of their locations.As travellers move towards the numerous benefits associated with social & community experiences while travelling, they are redefining the term vacation and sort of adding more perspectives to it.  From “vacationing” — which is more of a chance to rest and relax before going back to their everyday grind, to those who are now leaning to take on new adventures and engage with other people, cultures & experiences to come home energised and inspired. These travellers report benefits such as newfound creativity, a better grasp of how other cultures live, new connections, and memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The list of benefits could go on forever, which is why more and more travellers are trading in “vacation” for “adventure” and “discovery.”

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