It's been a big year -- and a difficult one in places -- so, as the team here at Cheapflights looks forward to 2013, we thought you deserved a bit more than our regular five travel trends for the year ahead.
So here are six new ways of vacationing that our experts think we'll be seeing more of in 2013.
1. The Parental Piggyback Holiday
With cash tight and no end in sight, most people are still going to be watching their pennies. Our experts are predicting that 2013 will see the "bank of mom and dad" move into the vacation market in a big way, with the rise of the "parental piggy back holiday" -- extended family groups getting away together to save cash.
"Be very afraid" some will say -- and, ok, this may not exactly be everyone's idea of a getaway -- but for overworked new parents, and grandparents complaining that they never see their grandchildren, this could be the only means to get an affordable break.
Group bookings, splitting the cost of a rental property, sharing on the food bill, getting maximum value out of all the seats in your rental car and making group bookings all mean savings -- and with your funds stretching that much further, you can go further too.
This may have some people gritting their teeth -- but, with a few simple ground rules and the right environment, it can be a good option for everyone, particularly new parents who want built-in babysitters they can trust.
For grown-up kids with active parents, a shared ski trip or activity can work too. Perhaps start the day with a social family breakfast and some early skiing and then you might be able to carve your own trail in the afternoon, letting everyone get some "me time." Just remember to be considerate if you're getting into the après ski -- and that goes for the parents as well!
Whether you opt for a timeshare, rental property or hotel room, if you are considering "parental piggybacking" do make sure you think it out well in advance. Go for a destination that caters for kids, parents and grandparents -- and make sure that there's sufficient room, outdoor space and scope for timeout so you don't get under each other's feet.
2. Friend, Share, Like
Increasingly, vacation planning starts with browsing through seductive images of blue skies, palm trees and white sandy beaches, followed by pictures of the local hotels and their amenities, right down to the dishes at the breakfast buffet. You can switch to Twitter to get a running commentary (and deals) on local sightseeing options and then take a look at dinner options on Pinterest. Before you book, check out friends' recommendations and advice or see how fellow travelers got on checking-in to the resort you are eyeing.
300 million images are posted to Facebook every day; and holiday photos are a major generator of "likes" -- and envy. Little wonder that surfing social networks can be a handy way to get holiday inspiration, get a genuine opinion on that hotel - and perhaps find that out-of-the-way boutique hideaway in the sun that (almost) no-one else knows about. In many ways it's like having your own personalized guide; the ultimate "try before you buy."
For these reasons the travel gurus at Cheapflights think "place-book" holidays will be all the rage in 2013. Just be careful which friend requests you accept...
3. Digital Detox
Ok, so you may have found your holiday on Facebook and you may be a social network junkie, but there's only so much liking, friending, trending, tweeting, sharing and pinning anyone can handle before they're deluged.
In 2013, digital detox is increasingly on the travel to-do list.
As technology and social media becomes increasingly pervasive, so too does our need to make a conscious decision to turn them off from time to time. With Wi-Fi access on planes and mobile data networks growing and covering more and more of the world, tuning out and taking a break from the steady stream of information is harder to do but more important than ever. Many resorts and cruise ships are turning off their wireless signals and satellite dishes and attracting waves of visitors whose thumbs twitch for a day to two but who, in the end, recharge themselves like never before.
So if you feel like you're "always on," this may be the time to take a short break; turn that stream of social media off, kick back, relax your thumbs and go cold turkey in the "world of the real" for two weeks -- there'll be plenty of time to edit your holiday snaps and make your Facebook friends green with envy when you get back.
4. Bag-a-Bargain Abroad Holiday
With cash-strapped travelers looking for maximum bang for their buck in everything they do, we predict an increasing focus on BABA holidays -- for the uninitiated, that's "bag a bargain abroad."
With the internet offering greater transparency on pricing of goods and services in different markets on an almost daily basis -- and cash-strapped consumers looking to tighten their belts -- international shopping holidays can offer significant savings.
Savings on duty free and electronics in the Far East are just the start. Consider made-to-measure suits in Thailand and Hong Kong, prescription glasses in China, leather goods in Spain and Portugal and specialty rums throughout the Caribbean.
At the more radical end of the scale, consumers are increasingly looking at the prices of any number of goods and services abroad, including laser eye correction and cosmetic surgery. We'd stress that you need to research thoroughly and look at your insurance options if you wanted to consider this, ensuring your chosen provider is well-regulated and legitimate. Botox and beach break, anyone?
5. Sports And Event Tourism
The 2012 Olympics in London opened a lot of eyes to event tourism -- the once in a lifetime chance to experience a huge sporting spectacle, take in your favorite band in a unique location or watch your team playing a critical road game. And, if anyone has friends on Facebook who visited the London 2012 Games knows, photos from big events are well "liked."
Sport is a major driver of travel; just witness the 4,500% increase in searches for tickets to Rio on Cheapflights when the host city of the next Olympics was mentioned during the London 2012 closing ceremony.
We may not have the same smorgasbord of activity in one place this year, but the bad news for sports widows and widowers is that there's no shortage of international events worth traveling for. We predict that sports, concerts, cultural events and festivals will again be a major driver of travel destinations in 2013. So what's on the agenda for international eventers who want to travel?
2013 sees the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France -- perhaps the best chance in our lifetimes to witness this incredible sporting spectacle.
In soccer there are some juicy cup matches in The Champion's League, with Manchester United facing Real Madrid at the Bernabeu and Celtic lining up against the mighty Juventus.
The NFL also continues its push towards globalizing football with two match-ups at London's Wembley Stadium this year: Sunday September 29th, when the Minnesota Vikings will host the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Sunday October 27th, when the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the San Francisco 49ers.
If you're more musically inclined, there are tours from a host of famous acts from the Rolling Stones to Justin Bieber, to Kaiser Chiefs, Muse, Springsteen -- and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
6. The Stubborn Splurge
So we've all been watching the pennies but there's only so many staycations we can take. After four years, it seems a lot of us have had enough of not having enough.We've identified four groups who may be opting for a bit more of a holiday splurge than the rest of us this year.
- The "let's not wait until it's too late-ers": Got something big coming up in your life? If you're a parent-to-be like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, now might be the perfect time to get away and have a chilled-out break to somewhere exclusive. And make sure to include plenty of pampering and me time. Also in this category are holiday-makers who want to visit destinations before they change significantly: Rio before the Olympics and the World Cup, Croatia before it joins the European Union, or, perhaps, Myanmar before it becomes an established destination.
- The "pent up demand demanders": They've had no major vacation for three years but, after being frugal with their funds, twenty twelve was a trigger. Like an Olympian out of the blocks, we expect to see people sprinting for the line to destinations that made the headlines in 2012 -- with London key amongst them.
- The "lump sum-ers": These are the recently retired, laid off or career switchers as well as those who've downsized their house or just decided it's time to get out of a rut. Any which way they're in the market for a big "once in a lifetime" trip such as on safari in Kenya, a visit to the spectacular Iguazu Falls on the Argentina/Brazil border or an Alaskan cruise.
- The "let's go do before they're two" crowd: As parents will tell you, it all gets a bit trickier to travel after your children turn two. Suddenly it's pricier, they're more mobile and that's before we even mention the "terrible twos." Given the significant difference in cost once the second birthday rolls around, many parents are grabbing the bull by the horns and deciding to make that trip to see relatives in Australia or the old country. Great for the photos to embarrass the young travelers with later in life....
Follow Cheapflights on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Cheapflights