The Decade in Luxury Travel

Ana Andjelic
3 min readDec 26, 2019

Three keywords marked the past decade in luxury travel: slow, sustainable, and transformative.

We have seen luxury travel shift from leisure to learning; from cookie-cutter, generic travel to fitting-in-the-fabric-of-the-locale; from travel disruptive of the socio-economic and natural ecosystem to the non-intrusive; from consumption to preservation; from an individual to connections and communal pleasures; from the future to the past; from thrill-seeking to transformation-seeking; from technology to customs and rituals; from capturing a moment to being in the moment; from internal to external journeys; from Bali to Transylvania.

In the past decade, there has been newfound sense of humility among modern luxury travelers. A trip is not worth making if it doesn’t entail giving back. It’s also not worth it unless we learn to cook like a Sicilian nonna, ride a Lusitano, hike in Armenia, or stay in a remote Chilean village.

Carbon neutrality emerged as a legitimate travel selection criterion and a status symbol. Walking safaris let travelers to smell Africa in a manner that they wouldn’t be able otherwise, all the while saving the environment. Long hiking tours between Nicaraguan villages are meant to provide the right balance of adventure, a sense of giving back, and of learning something new — all put in the context of simple food, modest comfort, and contentment that comes from having a purpose.

The last ten years saw us moving away from pursuing “having” or “doing” as an aspiration to advancing the quality of our “being.” Japanese terms like wabi-sabi, ikigai, omotenashi, or kinsugi have become widely embraced by luxury travel aspirants. There’s little more luxurious in travel than fixing broken pottery, spending time with village artisans, retreating to a monastery, or trekking Annapurna with Deepak Chopra. In contrast to hyper-connected, superficial, memefied, and impermanent digital world, these terms capture the essence of human excellence: the imperfect, the purposeful, the old and the mended.

Luxury travelers’ focus on the slow, sustainable, and transformative journeys reflected the exponential rise in experiential consumption. Experience-fueled markets reward business models that revolve around making our lives better across Maslow’s entire hierarchy of needs. They also…

Ana Andjelic

Brand Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Writer of “Sociology of Business.” Forbes most influential CMO.