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Travel 2023: Top destinations for Australians + travel trends

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We suss out where to be in 2023.

The new year has begun – and with it a fresh start and fresh new adventures.

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Where are we headed? Well, according to the latest Finder data 14% of Australians have “travel overseas” as part of their New Year’s resolutions.

With that in mind, here’s where we, and major travel companies, reckon will be hot to visit in 2023.

Plus, we’ve included a few travel trends you might want to hop onto to stay ahead of the pack.

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Top 10 travel destinations for 2023

  1. Tokyo, Japan
  2. Dubai, UAE
  3. Auckland, New Zealand
  4. Bali, Indonesia
  5. Nadi, Fiji
  6. London, UK
  7. Melbourne, Australia
  8. Paris, France
  9. Bright, Australia
  10. Mumbai, India

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1. Tokyo, Japan

Number one on what feels like everyone’s list is Japan.

When news of the borders fully reopening was announced in September 2022 Skyscanner noted a massive 92% increase in searches to Japan on its site.

Similarly KAYAK‘s 2023 travel trends report recently found that Sydney to Tokyo was the most searched for route for 2023.

What’s not to love? From its neon-lit streets and hidden shrines and temples to its landscapes that feature snow-coated mountains and cherry blossom lined waters, it really is like nowhere else on earth.

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2. Dubai, UAE

Home to the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa) and housing not one but two 7-star hotels, Dubai is a luxury enthusiasts dream destination.

FYI going big and splurging on a holiday is in right now (see below).

During Black Friday, Dubai was one of the most popular overseas destinations booked on the Finder website.

In 2022 it was the 7th most booked international destination through Flight Centre.

In 2023 it hosts the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in November and December.

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3. Auckland, New Zealand

For Australians, New Zealand is a quick trip that can be managed over a long weekend when flying in from the east coast which keeps more annual leave days in your back pocket.

If we have to choose a city, Auckland is the place to be.

It typically commands the cheapest fares from Australia and is a stone’s throw from the Central North region. Over summer this region overflows with sporting events and festivals.

Highlights include the first ever Harvey Norman NRL All Stars to be held in New Zealand (11 February), the first play-off tournament for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 (17-23 February) and the foodie Flavours of Plenty Festival (24 March – 2 April).

As of November 2022, New Zealand holidays account for 42% of Flight Centre’s international bookings.

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4. Bali, Indonesia

This wouldn’t be a proper list without Australia’s fan favourite Bali on it.

For anyone looking to travel overseas but keep a tiny budget, KAYAK has named the Indonesian island one of the most affordable international destinations for 2023. This is based on return economy flights.

For an idea of costs, these are the average costs of a return economy flight on some of KAYAK’s cheapest routes to Bali:

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5. Nadi, Fiji

The idyllic islands of Fiji appeal to absolutely everyone – from romantics looking to swim in infinity pools and adventure seekers wanting to island-hop to families searching for a getaway where you don’t have to leave the resort.

Another drawcard for Fiji is cost.

According to KAYAK, the Sydney to Fiji route is one of the most affordable flights you can take with prices averaging $830 return in economy.

Both Jetstar and Virgin Australia offer budget-style seats to get you there on the cheap.

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6. London, UK (and then onto Italy and Greece)

Book your flight to London to arrive by 6 May and you’ll be part of history as the world stops for the coronation of Charles III.

That’s not the only reason to visit London, though.

Hailed as the top most booked tour destination in the world by Flight Centre, it’s a popular jumping off point into Europe. If you missed out on the European summer last year now’s your chance for some revenge travel by booking your spot for 2023.

When you do, make sure you add the usual suspects of Rome and the Greek Islands to your itinerary. (Psst – they’re on Flight Centre’s list of predicted top destinations for 2023).

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7. Melbourne, Australia

While travelling internationally is what we’ve all been waiting years to do, Skyscanner has found that half of us still have plans to travel locally this year.

Of the capital cities, Wotif and Webjet call out Australia’s culture capital AKA Melbourne as their top domestic destination.

Love the hotel life? This year Melbourne welcomes The Ritz-Carlton (March 2023), Mandarin Oriental (TBC) and The Motley Hotel (January 2023).

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8. Paris, France

Now that you’ve finished binging season 3 of Emily in Paris you might be pretty inspired to make tracks to the city of love.

If you do, you’ll be in good company.

The 2023 Expedia No-Normal Travel Trends report found that 29% of Aussies book trips after seeing them on a show or in a movie.

For the gram we suggest you check out Place de l’Estrapade which is where Emily’s apartment is, the Palais Royal gardens to see if you can find your new bestie and the Le Chateau de Sonnay which is a working winery that you can tour. While working on your marketing campaign, naturally.

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9. Bright, Australia

Staying locally but want to go somewhere a little off-the-beaten track? Bright in High Country Victoria could be the answer.

Sitting at the foot of Mount Buffalo it’s the ultimate getaway for outdoorsy folk with its wealth of hiking trails and cycling paths.

During winter, it’s a perfect jumping off point to schuss down the slopes at Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Selwyn.

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10. Mumbai, India

Brimming with culture, history, architecture and sport, Mumbai is a feast for the senses.

In fact, it’s the hottest emerging destination for families and couples on Skyscanner and has seen a 107% increase in searches between 2019 and 2022.

If you need any more of an excuse to explore this cosmopolitan mecca, its Wankhede Stadium will play some of the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup matches between October and November.

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Top 4 travel trends for 2023

Thanks to the pandemic, the shape of travel has changed immensely.

For many, it’s given us the space and time to focus on what’s important.

For the industry, it’s made flexibility and safety a mandatory.

Here’s what we, and travel companies, are predicting will be trending in travel in 2023.

1. Spending time in nature

Forests, cabins and the countryside are taking a front seat as we prioritise switching off devices and surrounding ourselves with nature.

Wildlife spotting and hiking are some of our top travel activities for the year, according to Skyscanner.

Of the Aussies surveyed for Booking.com‘s travel predictions report, 62% said they’re seeking an off-the-grid style trip where they can switch off.

2. Splurging in the name of quality

The terms carpe diem and no regrets are ringing true in 2023 as Aussies doll out the cash to add luxuries to their travel itineraries.

“If anything, travellers are prioritising quality travel experiences and carefully investing in the choices that are right for them to ensure they’re making the most of travel opportunities in the current climate,” said KAYAK brand director Nicola Carmichael.

Between 2019 and 2022, Skyscanner has seen a 250% surge in seat selection purchases and Booking.com has uncovered that 46% of Australians plan to splash the cash to make sure every experience while travelling is the absolute ultimate.

This trend isn’t lost on trip protection, either.

As a result of the pandemic, we’re investing in quality insurance more and more.

Last year 95% of Flight Centre customers booked premium insurance. Only 5% took out standard insurance. We’re predicting these numbers to continue in 2023.

3. Longer holidays

Slow travel is on the rise. If you haven’t caught wind of this term yet, it’s the idea of spending more time in one place and immersing yourself in the destination rather than hopping across several countries over a short space of time.

Booking.com’s report sees that almost half of us (48%) would rather opt for one or two long trips over several short ones.

4. Reconnecting with family, friends and workmates

Whether it’s a trip to your home country, a multi-generational getaway or a work retreat, physically connecting has never felt so important.

This year, reuniting with those that matter is a major driver in our travel decisions with Skyscanner finding 55% of us are headed abroad to reconnect.

Booking.com is also seeing a trend in employee-organised trips to bring remote workers together.

Ready to travel more in 2023? Check out the latest and greatest travel deals to keep more money in your travel fund.

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