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The Shortlist: On-Trend Holidays

19th December 2014


5. Independent Overseas Travel
The year's top destinations for independent travel, which included Fiji, Thailand, Hawaii and Bali, reads as a running list of the most idyllic places to unwind close to home. Such destinations continue to impress even seasoned travellers, with new boutique properties, indulgent world-class spa or culinary experiences and exceptional value. Other popular places for independent travel were the United Kingdom and mainland USA — both destinations that reward those with a desire to holiday at their own pace and take the road lest travelled. Across the board, independent overseas travel bookings increased by almost 20% in 2014. As our General Manager, David Lovelock, says: "Travel is a genuine passion for most Travel Associates clients. The preference to holiday in small groups or as couples is really an extension of their desire for a more individualist approach."

4. Rail Journeys
With a hint of yesteryear and an air of sophistication, the most surprising on-trend holiday style for 2014 was rail journeys with bookings growing at just over 25%. Many Travel Associates clients relived the 'golden age of travel' (presumably sans monocle) this year, with the likes of the Rocky Mountaineer, the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient Express, the Indian Pacific and Swiss scenic trains taking them on a memorable journey through some of the world's most spectacular landscapes in unparalleled luxury. "For many of my clients, rail journeys mean freedom," says Becky Kent-Perchalla from Perchalla & Turner Travel Associates. "The ability to sit back with travelling companions over an excellent meal or drink and watch the cinematic scenery roll by is very unique, for those with the luxury of time," she said.

A glimpse of the Piano Bar on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

3. Ocean Cruising
Throughout 2014 cruise lines themselves embarked on their own journeys of discovery, to distinguish their identity in a rapidly changing market. As Jenni Davis from Davis & James Travel Associates observed "Celebrity has ramped up experiences for foodies with upscale eateries and impressive watering holes, Royal Caribbean focused on active pursuits introducing rock-climbing and even skydiving, while Holland America Line's themed cruises like jazz and Dancing with the Stars have become increasingly popular." It's really never been easier to find a cruise line (or cruise ship) to suit your style, and almost all of the world's biggest names in cruise seemed to include Australia in their programs this year. Our home is, after all, girt by sea. Bookings grew just over 31% at Travel Associates, making ocean cruising in its many guises, the third fastest growing travel style of 2014.

2. Premium Escorted Tours
Despite the seemingly relentless growth in river cruising and the rise in internet-education giving travellers the confidence to 'go it alone', premium escorted tour bookings grew over 45% this year at Travel Associates. When asked why the travel style is going from strength-to-strength, Managing Director of Insight Vacations Australia, Joost Timmer, explains it's not just the destination guests experience, but what they eat and the people they meet that makes a holiday unforgettable. "It’s these engaging and authentic – or what we call Signature Experiences – that Insight Vacations provides that guests wouldn't have had on an independent journey. Whether it’s a cooking demonstration with Chef Lorenzo in Umbria or tasting luminously green freshly pressed olive oil at a family run Olive Mill in France," he said.

Follow the evolution of the olive from tree to table; one of Insight Vacation's Signature Experiences.

1. River Cruising
River cruising evolved in the most surprising ways this year and, perhaps unsurprisingly, tops our shortlist as the fastest growing travel style of 2014. As Alan Reis from Reis & James Travel Associates points out, "Seemingly all our river cruise partners were breaking out the champagne and christening a new generation of river ships – from Viking's eco-friendly Longships equipped with solar panels and organic herb gardens, to Uniworld's new super-ship S.S. Catherine which houses its own extensive art collection." In fact 36 new river ships debuted along the world's fabled waterways this year. Equally as exciting were the number of all-inclusive and innovative itineraries, with a number of lines testing the waters with purpose-built vessels in Asia, Africa and South America. Travel Associates clients booked just over 51% more river cruises this year than in 2013.