To a certain kind of travel purist (and we’re as guilty as anyone), package holidays have a bit of a bad rep. Picture it: you’re confined to a resort with your fellow tourists. You’re there mostly for the weather – and you don’t usually see much of the destination you’re visiting.
But there are plenty of reasons why package trips have always been popular. They’re convenient, with no need to get super-organised to book all your flights, accommodation and fun. They also tend to be more affordable than booking everything separately, with much more predictable costs for things like food and drink (especially if you go all-inclusive). And if anything goes wrong – an ever-present worry in the post-2020 world – there’s a tour operator or travel agent at hand to help sort it all out.
And now packages are on the rise. According to Statista, the global package holiday market is set to keep on growing by about five percent every year. Gen Z is partly responsible: beyond flexing on TikTok about all-inclusive trips, younger travellers appear to be much keener to book package holidays than millennials or Gen Xers.
Travel association ABTA reckons it’s to do with people putting their trust in travel experts, especially after the pandemic. Its research says that people are now 36 percent more likely to book with a travel agent now than they were pre-2020, while 45 percent of travellers said that the security of a package holiday is particularly important. A whopping 75 percent said they’d rather book their holiday with a well-regarded brand.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean a shrinking space for immersive trips that go off the beaten track. On the contrary: crucial to the new popularity of package holidays might well be the fact that you don’t have to stick to the old all-inclusive clichés.
In 2023, packages are no longer principally all-inclusive trips in which you drink loads, mingle with only fellow foreign visitors and don’t get to explore much outside of your resort-slash-compound. Key to the change is something called ‘dynamic packages’, which aren’t exactly new, but are changing the game for younger generations of travellers.
Dynamic packages essentially allow travellers to build their own packages, enabling them to pick-and-choose stuff like flights, accommodation, car hire and so on. They allow for far greater flexibility than all-inclusives, but with the same perks of having control over spending, trust for the operator and no hidden charges.
And loads of companies now offer dynamic packages. Take Lucky Trip, for example. It’s a booking platform that lets you input a set budget and then comes through with a range of classic destinations and destinations you might never have even heard of. All Lucky Trip packages come with UK government protection, and the booking process is streamlined and faff-free. No wonder it’s such a hit with younger travellers.
Other similar companies like EF Ultimate Trip are specifically targeted at younger travellers outside of Europe and the UK. And these aren’t the only tool offering to de-complicate travel. Sygic Travel creates maps and itineraries for destinations around the world, to help people plan trips and get the most out of them. It’s like a package holiday without the packaging, appealing to the desire to make travel easier, more organised and more rewarding.
Conventional travel companies also offer dynamic packages. The likes of Tui and easyJet Holidays have a whole set of stripped-back, more flexible alternatives to the usual sun-sea-and-sand package holidays. Jet2holidays does its ‘VIBE’ packages – holidays which, with their stylish accommodation and nightlife-centric locations, are designed specifically for younger travellers.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who swore you’d never go on a package trip. But if you’re looking for a convenient, trustworthy, affordable and flexible getaway in 2023, it might be time to open your mind to a whole new way of travelling.
Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out Travel newsletter for the latest travel news and the best stuff happening across the world.
More tips to save money, beat the crowds and travel better in 2023: