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CAA experts dish on the top travel trends for 2023

After three years of travel limbo and staycations, Canadians are charging full steam ahead, eager to take big bucket-list vacations in 2023, both around the world and here at home. 

Whether you have a penchant for visiting castles and lush countryside, sampling fine wines and exquisite cuisine or soaking up the sun on a sandy beach or rugged coastline, the options are endless—but don’t delay in booking. 

“Travel has absolutely exploded,” says senior CAA Travel Consultant Lesley Scharf. “Everybody is itching to get out of their four walls. Whatever they’ve been dreaming of for the past three years, they’re doing. I’m literally selling every continent on the planet right now.” 

Scharf, who has worked in the industry for 27 years, says people are clamouring for bucket-list vacations and are opting for authentic experiences. 

SimonSkafar | iStock

“People aren’t just taking the classic, cookie cutter-type vacation anymore. They’re leaning toward luxury and want to get a real local perspective. For the younger generation, we’re seeing the influence on their travel choices from Instagram and TikTok and the older generation—after living through COVID-19—just want to seize the moment,” says Scharf. 

She suggests booking trips nine months to a year in advance. “Trips are selling out—there really aren’t a lot of last-minute specials anymore. Expect to pay a bit more than you did in the past.” 

Another trend that CAA travel consultant Tiffany Bertin is noticing is that clients are booking longer trips and visiting more niche locales. 

“While many want a hassle-free, organized tour, which is usually eight to 10 days, clients want to branch off and stay longer—a minimum of 15 days—to explore and really soak up the culture,” says Bertin. 

“With Italy, a lot of people are going to the Amalfi Coast, but also Tuscany and visiting wineries. When in France, they’re touring Paris, Nice and Monaco and then take in Normandy and the First World War and Second World War sites. When touring Scotland, they’re tacking on the Orkney Islands and Hebrides.” 

Ready to pack your bags? Our two savvy travel experts offer the inside scoop on top destinations to visit this year. 

River cruises

Romantic river cruises over Rhein - medieval Cochem town. Germany
Freeartist | iStock

If you’re a culturally curious traveller and enjoy immersing yourself in a country’s history, cuisine and architecture, river cruises offer the full gamut: excursions to iconic cities, including a range of hiking and biking tours and even cooking classes. While European cruises are hot-hot-hot, our travel experts say people are keen to visit far-flung, exotic locations, too, in Asia, Africa and Colombia. 

Companies such as Viking River Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Avalon Waterways and AmaWaterways, to name a few, have always been popular, but now they’re back in a big way, says Bertin. 

“One of the things that I love about river cruises is that they’re essentially floating hotels. Besides getting to see beautiful places and going on an array of excursions, you only have to unpack once, which is really nice.” 

Scharf has been booking a lot of luxury cruises on smaller ships, which dock at ports that the larger ships can’t. “Windstar Tahiti Cruises are incredible with wonderful itineraries and good price points. It’s such a unique experience as you’re on a five-masted ship or yacht, which is out of this world.” 

Bus tours

Female tourist looks up at a trio of tall rocks at the famous Calanais Standing Stones, Outer Hebrides, Isle of Lewis, Scotland, UK.
wanderluster | iStock

Ireland, Scotland and England have always been top tourist draws, but thanks to the appeal of HBO and Netflix shows, like Game of Thrones, Vikings and Outlander, these countries are enjoying a boom, especially for motorcoach or bus trips, according to our experts. 

“I’m seeing a lot of families travel on motorcoach trips now more so than pre-pandemic. We lost a few years of travelling with the children and people want to make memories and live for the moment,” says Scharf. 

“Scotland, Ireland and England are big destination areas—especially as you could do all three countries on a bus tour. These trips are organized and hassle-free,” says Bertin, who added that Italy and France are also top picks. 

Rocky Mountaineer train trip

Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer

While the tourism industry suffered profound losses due to the impacts of COVID-19, domestic tourism spending skyrocketed after spring 2020, as preferences shifted, and Canadians chose to stay local. The trend continues with big interest in trips to Atlantic Canada, Alberta’s Jasper Park and the West Coast. 

While Vancouver remains a hot destination, our experts note that clients are adding on the premium train trip aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, which connects British Columbia and Alberta, with stops in Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel and Kamloops. With gourmet meals, friendly hosts, comfy seats and magnificent scenery, including snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and wildlife, start your engines! 

“There’s been a huge spike in customers booking the Rocky Mountaineer experience out West. It’s literally one of Canada’s most famous vacations,” says Scharf. 

Worth mentioning

swissmediavision | iStock

“There’s a strong interest in eco-tourism and sustainability. I’ve sold more people to Costa Rica in the past year than I ever have,” says Scharf.  

There’s also a growing interest in off-the-beaten-track destinations, including Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Cartagena, Colombia, says Bertin. 

No matter where your journey takes you—in Canada or to a remote corner of the globe—CAA Travel is with you every step of the way. From booking your flights to ensuring you’ve got enough insurance coverage, a CAA Travel Consultant is your guide to the destination of your dreams. To speak with one, book an appointment online. 

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