Scroll down your Instagram feed and the un-missable star in this daily diet of dewy skin on worked-out bodies is decked out in bold prints and saturated colors set against an exotic holiday backdrop.
If Insta is the portfolio of our lives, travel is increasingly trumping product as the twenty-first century symbol of status.
How do we unpack the current preference for island hopping over in-season clothes and designer “it bags?” Well, the stakes rose so high for the latter that it became a duelling of brand new monthly Birkins for those in competition; a silly pace so indulgent and expensive to maintain that a yoga heavy long weekend in Tulum, a discovery trip through the artisanal stops in Tuscany or a cheap food tour through South East Asian became more in reach.
The dumbing down of fashion didn’t help either. As one uninspired shift dress and luxe sweatshirt after another kept dominating the collections each season, interest waned, and “must-have” gradually crept out of the fashion lexicon, to be replaced with “must-see.” “I’d rather go on a great trip than go on a grand shopping spree,” offers boutique owner Alexandria Skouras. Handbag designer Alexandra Sacchi agrees, flatly stating, “I find friends and colleagues more willing to spend money on travel than any other luxury.” “And nobody cares about a Chanel bag anymore. They’d rather go somewhere exotic and experience something,” continues Malibu based luxury consultant Sara Semprini.
Travellers are seeking a variety of experiences: glamping, eco travel, private jets and yachts are all trending – whether it’s traveling to score a location tag or for a deeper travel experience of other cultures. This resulted in the global travel growing to a $631 billion industry in 2016 according to The US Travel Association, a $27 billion increase over 2015 and the 7th consecutive year of above average 5% annual growth. Meanwhile in fashion, the reports of sluggish sales, over expansion, lack of customer loyalty and closing stores dominate that industry’s news cycle.
The face of the traveler is also experiencing multicultural changes. Chinese, Korean and other Asian nationals are increasingly the tourists body in iconic global destinations. South Americans, Brazilians mainly, Africans from across the continent are traveling and it’s all there on Instagram.
Consequently, this has influenced a whole new tribe of travellers à la Travel Noire and The Women’s Travel Group to promote travel in communities that were less mobile before. “There is a sense of urgency and instant gratification in travel. People are more sophisticated when it comes to their desires, in general, and they want to get out there and see the world as it is now, prior to any political or environmental changes,” opines travel consultant Roman Chiporukhaof
But the true game changers in the movement are the rabid image collecting millennials with a greater worldview. They are the largest generation in history and are choosing adventure over structure and are heat-seeking missiles to a good capture from a travel destination.
“The college-aged and young 20-somethings who have been able to travel throughout their youth and/or abroad during college and have seen much of the world – it is this market that is influencing what their parents, the baby boomers, are doing and urging them for more experiential travel,” says Chiporukhaof.
Millennials are also the main driver of the digital influencer culture which often requires an active travel lifestyle for followers and likes. If it’s not on Instagram, did it really happen? Semprini sums it best, “for the influencers it’s not all about what she’s wearing but where is she now?