A destination experienced in motion in different locations, produce a rich, immersive journey. Offer me a luxury train, mobile safari or organised RV adventure I didn’t have to plan myself, and you’ve given me a unique experience that can trace its roots to a golden era – the time when much of tourism was about exploring uncharted territory.
Journey is the new niche
To move is the thing. The getting there, the views and stops along the way, the experiences: observing the unfolding reel of landscape, learning about the shape, size and composition of a destination; leisurely meals and drinks; moments of reflection; opportunities to socialise and bond; time to just do nothing but stare, connect or disconnect depending on mood..
A recent Booking.com survey found that around 25% of travellers would sooner plan trips based on a journey than a destination.
Having previously visited a few counties in Europe, I wanted a refreshing new approach to share with my nieces last year.
My idea was to get from one place to another quickly but slowly, if you get my drift, with opportunities to bond over some unique perspectives of European cultures, landscapes and lifestyles en route.
Amid all our busy lives, time is a luxury.
Journeying by train gave us back time in buckets. I would’ve happily driven a similar route, but at the time I really needed a break from the wheel.
This way, I could enjoy a bit of freedom and independence without the responsibility of minding a car. A journey enables passive sightseeing, its passengers invested but flexible.
Rail journeys that rock
Train travel answers the growing interest in the journey. Passengers are privy to unique views and experiences often unavailable to motorists or other forms of transport.
Rural expanses, urban sprawls, mountain passes, hidden valleys, spectacular bridges, tunnels, viaducts, and iconic station buildings, paint a portrait of exclusive access – only to the passengers on a train passing by at that exact moment.
Whether they’re keen on experiencing the old world charm of vintage trains or sleek, high-tech modernity, train products are varied enough to cater to diverse tastes, with on-board amenities modernised as standard either way. Some structurally modern trains feature improved visibility with bigger windows. Yet the romance of train travel lies in all the trappings that people imagine about its glamorous past – the liveried staff, gourmet dining, premium drinks and cigars in the viewing compartment, beautiful sleeping quarters, and general pampering.
My research showed that train companies are diversifying their offerings in interesting ways to add onto this nostalgic appeal, with themed experiences based on niche interests or special events taking place in-destination. The number of luxury trains being launched across the globe is significant. It indicates growing interest, the development of new routes around new infrastructure, potential for additional revenue and growing partnerships among train companies, railway stations and local communities. Experiences range from budget through to old world luxury and target markets span across travel personas.
Unique is the new trend
What makes these modes of travel so attractive to travellers is the knowledge that they’re doing something different from mainstream tourism. It’s an off-beaten-track approach to destination exploration that yields fresh new perspectives.
Sharing their trip on social media allows them to show off their photographic prowess and be ‘first’ to share their unique perspective.. And of course to brag about their extraordinary, exclusive experience.
They want to get away from the ordinary and feel they’ve been let in on a secret.
What defines unique? Until such time that we can plan trips to Uranus, one way of doing unique travel is the ability to cover more distance, see more, experiencing different destinations on the same Earthbound trip. Or, to experience a familiar destination in new, different ways, like by rail, mobile safari or home. Each mode of travel opens up a range of experiences removed from the mainstream. Locations come with things to see and things to do, people to meet; new terrain to try out familiar activities, or discover new, hard-to-come-by activities.
Free as a personalised RV trip
Ask anyone what they think of camping and they’ll imagine mud underfoot, wind-battered tents, ants in food, and frightful ablutions. They’ll groan at the idea of multiple camping stops, erecting, dismantling, then cleaning up a site, never mind getting lost. LOL. Thankfully we’re talking luxury, not reliving childhood summer nightmares. Glamping is no longer a new concept – combine a campervan or RV, kitted out with all the mod cons the heart desires, with well-developed infrastructure, well-appointed service stations, rest areas and facilities for mobile homes, and you’re in business!
Travellers want access to secluded viewpoints, activities off-the-grid, quaint villages with fabulous local produce that doesn’t cost a fortune. Offer them personalised options, the freedom and time to move at a leisurely pace and fully immerse themselves – all of it amounts to the luxury of novelty.
There are few better ways to explore than roaming free in a vehicle that doubles as a home. I once planned a campervan trip down the Australian East coast for 2 weeks, but ended up doing a slow exploration of the Hawaiian island of Ohau. Driving the wrong side of the road was a fun challenge 🙂 Criss-crossing Namibia and Chile the same way is also on my bucket list. Point being, plenty of destinations offer great prospects for mobile home trips. Your expertise in self-drive routes has everything the traveller needs: flexibility and structure. Researched overnight stops, sometimes secluded, always out of the ordinary, seal the deal. Provide all the info they need to ensure a smooth trip, leave them as little as possible to do, and the work of driving becomes a treat.
The luxury of mobile accommodation
Pick a travel persona, from Baby Boomers all the way down to Generation Z, they just want to relax! Modular travellers are particularly attracted to in-depth, slow-paced niche tourism products. They represent a growing market of well-travelled 30 to 49 year olds in search of new perspectives in familiar destinations. They’re too busy for detailed research or trip planning, so being presented with a selection of curated experiences they can just pick and choose from gives them the luxury and freedom of choice. A couple of well-crafted experiences to combine into one multimodal trip makes it easier for them.
The fact that everything is/will be taken care of is another luxury: transport; meals; activities; access to WIFI and facilities that add value, comfort and convenience; and of course, expert guidance. According to TrekkSoft, these travellers desire a luxurious return to destinations they previously experienced on lower budgets or in less depth. That means they’re willing to spend a bit more for a touch of class.
Mobile safaris do it deeper
The concept is simple, the experience rich, immersive and luxurious. You already understand the lure of the wild, the fascination with authentic wilderness experiences. Mobile safari takes the concept a step deeper, recalling the bygone era of travel pioneers, explorers who experienced nature and wildlife closely, intimately. There are travellers who’ve stayed in game lodges but crave deeper experiences with nobody else around but a handful of guests and crew.. al fresco meals under an ancient, arboreal giant, outdoor massages, and nightly camp fires.👇
Luxury is a camp crew taking care of all their needs and an expert guide leading them through the pristine, uncharted terrain. Depending on the niche you service, experiences could include conservation, tracking, foraging activities, or local interactions. Depending on your destination, you could cater for special interests like climbing, horse-riding, birding, water-based activities, or animal migrations.
For some it’s a treat simply to enjoy game viewing in different locations at a leisurely pace, observing habitats changing with the landscape.
A lodge full of guests won’t offer that kind of intimacy.
More time than usual at watering holes, better viewing at hard-to-access spots, that’s unique.
Forget the year’s top global destinations – everywhere has the potential for spontaneous discovery! For travellers concerned with how they experience their chosen destination once they get there, even how they make the journey there in the first place, prospects for mobile accommodation have opened wide.. and across the expanse of your destination. SUP