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What type of traveller are you?

Perhaps you’re an intrepid adventure-seeker, who always packs a GoPro camera; or a spontaneous jet-setter, scouring the web for last-minute deals. Where do you fit into today’s travel scene?

What type of traveller are you?
Illustration: Allan Deas

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Where do you fit into today’s travel scene? Are you a committed family traveller who never leaves home without an iPad for each child? A cultural traveller, booking early and never more than two holidays from your next trip to Italy? Perhaps you’re an intrepid adventure-seeker, who always packs a GoPro camera; or a spontaneous jet-setter, scouring the web for last-minute deals. Exactly what kind of traveller are you?

Adventure traveller

From Antarctica to the Aral Sea, pretty much every patch of the planet features on someone’s bucket list. Modern-day Shackletons are likely to be under-40, curious, and comfortable with booking solo trips. Postcards are out, replaced by Instagram Stories.

Where?
Southeast Asia, South America, India. Recent growers include Central Asia, especially the ’stans such as Uzbekistan (for cultural explorers) and Kyrgyzstan (for the outdoors).

Booking season
For adventure specialist G Adventures, the average lead time is four months. Only just over a quarter of their travellers book more than six months ahead.

How do you book?
Agents, especially those with niche expertise, still have a huge role to play. For G Adventures, almost four out of five bookings comes via an agent. Three-quarters of those who book online do so on a desktop device. There’s still resistance to paying for complex trips on a smartphone.

Never leaves home without…
GoPro Hero POV cameras are tough enough to survive in pretty much any environment; add the dive housing accessory and you’ve got an adventure-holiday all-rounder. There was a time, not so long ago, when the main function of a phone was to make calls. The wilderness was phone free, but these days cameras and GPS trackers are likely to be apps, not extra gadgets to pack.

What’s on the home screen?
AllTrails (Android, iOS), because you can never have enough routes for hiking and biking all over the world. National Geographic Traveller Photography Magazine (Android, iOS, Amazon), for pro tips on getting shots good enough for a glossy.

Holiday reading
Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, a controversial account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster by a journalist who was there.

Bookmarks
gadventures.co.uk
tourdust.com
exodus.co.uk

Illustration: Allan Deas

Illustration: Allan Deas

Family traveller

You may all be travelling together, but let’s not kid ourselves: the ones calling the shots are aged three to 15. In your mind, the trip is planned with military precision. The reality is more like an episode of Outnumbered with better food. You mean to be a good friend/daughter/son, but the well-intentioned postcard only gets posted during lunch on your first day back at work. The kids, meanwhile, have kept a running commentary via Snapchat.

Where?
The Mediterranean: Balearics, mainland Spain, Greece and Turkey are still favourites. Mexico, Cape Verde and the Caribbean were among Thomas Cook’s fastest growers in 2016.

Booking season
There’s a reason holiday ads hit on Boxing Day. “January is the biggest booking month of the whole season for families,” says a Thomas Cook spokesperson.

How do you book?
For Thomas Cook, 44% of bookings still come via a traditional agent. Mobiles and tablets cover the majority of searches at Thomas Cook’s website, while desktop and laptops are more popular for bookings.

Never leaves home without…
An iPad. For everyone. Plus a portable chargepack, such as the Anker PowerCore 20100, which will re-juice an iPad twice.

What’s on the home screen?
TopCashback (Android, iOS), because every little helps — and 13% cashback on hotels.com reservations, 5% from P&O Ferries Dover–Calais bookings, and 3% from Thomson package holidays (all at time of writing) helps even more. Airbnb (Android, iOS), for the freedom of a whole apartment at the price of a middling hotel room.

Holiday reading
If you somehow get enough peace even to finish an issue of National Geographic Traveller, you are a family travel ninja.

Bookmarks
thomascook.com
expedia.co.uk
travelrepublic.co.uk

Illustration: Allan Deas

Illustration: Allan Deas

Luxury traveller

First-class safari lodges, winter long-haul to the Indian Ocean, an urban ‘design’ bolthole, the Abercrombie & Kent travel concierge on speed dial, or exclusive access to a new hotel’s soft-launch from bethefirst.com. According to a report by commercial platform Amadeus, luxury travel grew at 4.5% a year between 2011 and 2015 — faster than the general travel market. Luxe fact: Guccio Gucci was first inspired to design luggage for the kinds of travellers he encountered when he worked at the Savoy Hotel. That’s you.

Where?
Russia is popular for escorted tours. For an upscale safari, it’s often South Africa. Iran is the fastest growing destination for Cox & Kings. For Abercrombie & Kent, it’s Japan and China.

Booking season
Luxury travellers are early bookers. Getting the right villa or the room with the just-so view matters a lot. Cox & Kings customers book Australia or New Zealand 12 months ahead. For Abercrombie & Kent, long-haul lead times are 140 to 200 days; for cruises, 300-plus.

How do you book?
Creating a bespoke experience doesn’t readily fit the online world of check boxes. “The majority of enquiries come in online, but almost all result in a phone call at some point before booking,” says Katie Cosstick at Cox & Kings.

Never leaves home without…
Something box-fresh. Perhaps the new Nikon KeyMission 360 wearable, waterproof action camera with 4K recording.

What’s on the home screen?
PrivateFly (Android, iOS), because nothing says opulence like a discounted flight on a private Learjet. Ritz-Carlton (Android, iOS), for smooth mobile check-in and check-out.

Holiday reading
Po Bronson’s The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, a novel from the 1990s dotcom bubble.

Bookmarks
coxandkings.co.uk
abercrombiekent.co.uk
bethefirst.com

Illustration: Allan Deas

Illustration: Allan Deas

Cultural traveller

A couple of centuries have passed since peak Grand Tour, yet culture-inspired travel is more popular (and more diverse) than ever. Experiences are valued as highly as the classic sights — whether cooking in a Tuscan kitchen or a street-art walk in Rio.

Where?
Plus ça change: Italy still leads the way. “The tours that sell best include places privately owned or off the beaten track, and therefore difficult to arrange for the traveller who may have limited Italian,” says Liz Brown at culture specialist Martin Randall Travel. Popular adventurous destinations for escorted tours include Japan, China, Iran and Uzbekistan.

Booking season
Culture travellers often know exactly what they want. At Martin Randall, for example, bookings come in up to 18 months ahead of travel.

How do you book?
This is a traditional market, with average traveller ages in the 60s. Three-quarters of the bookings for Martin Randall escorted tours come in via phone. For those that use the internet to book, the shift from desktop to mobile hasn’t landed in this segment of the industry yet.

Never leaves home without…
Careful preparation.

What’s on the home screen?
The Culture Trip (Android), for a stream of articles and ideas to filter by interest or location. Duolingo (Android, iOS, Windows), because all that pre-trip preparation time gives you a chance to brush up on language skills.

Holiday reading
A lot of thought goes into culture-inspired travel, and the same goes for the reading list. Something specific, immersive, tailored to the trip — say, the 1568 edition of Vasari’s Lives of the Artists or Abbate and Parker’s 600-page History of Opera.

Bookmarks
martinrandall.com
aceculturaltours.co.uk
travellocal.com

Illustration: Allan Deas

Illustration: Allan Deas

Spontaneous traveller

According to Sojern, the British have an average pre-travel booking lead time of 86 days, putting us among the least spontaneous travellers in Europe. Always-on mobile connections and location-sensitive deals and tour apps have the potential to change our ways. When they invent a way to book a holiday using an artificial intelligence messaging bot, you’re interested, right?

Where?
Short-haul is favoured by most. Top destinations for Expedia late-bookers are almost all in the UK, notably London, Manchester and Edinburgh. The top three cities for UK users of last-minute hotel app HotelTonight are London, New York and Paris.

Booking season
Whenever the mood takes you. The last-minute travel boom is associated with the millennial generation. Expedia research found more than a third of millennials ‘often’ make last-minute travel plans.

How do you book?
Digital advertising specialists Criteo’s research suggests smartphones netted about one in five travel bookings in mid-2016.

Never leaves home without…
A charger: without a phone, there’s no way to access your boarding pass, hotel and restaurant reservations or last-minute theatre e-tickets.

What’s on the home screen?
Google Trips (Android, iOS), for journey planning with zero legwork. It scans your Gmail for bookings then suggests destination itineraries and places to eat.
HotelTonight (Android, iOS), for hotel rates that can get cheaper the longer you wait, including special ‘geo’ rates for your current location that are posted at noon.

Holiday reading
No time to plan. What was today’s Kindle Store recommendation again?

Bookmarks
travelzoo.com/uk
holidaypirates.com
hotukdeals.com/travel

Published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)