Original Travel Looks Ahead to the Future of Luxury Tourism

Covid-19 has changed life as we know it, including – perhaps, particularly - how we will travel

From Edventures and self-sufficiency skills, sabbaticals and philantourism, here’s what the post-lockdown key travel trends will be, according to Original Travel’s client survey and live enquiries.

A rise in sabbaticals, philanthropic tourism and sustainable travel looks certain, while a keen interest in holidays which offer elements of education and life skills is a very safe bet. This is according to luxury tour operator Original Travel as indicated by its own client survey, current enquiries and its monitoring of the industry landscape.

Original Travel’s Co-founder, Tom Barber, says: “We are busily readying the team and our partners on the ground for these emerging trends and we’re in a fortunate position of having had a headstart on most. However, with so many question marks over air travel – how expensive it will be and how airlines and airports will be able to maintain social distancing – we can’t expect to return to business as usual any time soon. Instead, there will be new opportunities once travel restrictions start to lift and we predict that Brits will largely want to travel in the direction that we as a company were already heading.

“In general terms, we believe we will see people travelling less but travelling better; so going for longer and thinking more carefully about their holidays. This speaks to the same instincts that have seen us champion sabbaticals, off-the-beaten-track destinations (to encourage undertourism) and slow travel – after all, we were the first UK tour operator to launch luxury rail-only holidays. And for those who do want to fly, at least they know that if they book with us, they will get fast-tracked through security and check-in and enjoy lounge access which does at least minimise social contact.”


Of those working, over half (55%) of respondents to Original Travel’s survey said they are planning to roll accrued leave over into 2021, either because travel has become a higher priority (35%) or because they need to take time out to reassess and recover (40.5%). Some respondents also felt that their work had evolved to such an extent that they would be able to work from anywhere. In addition, new measures brought in by the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, enable employees to carry over up to four weeks’ statutory annual leave entitlement into the next two years. Original Travel is already the go-to operator for sabbaticals, having created an entire guide on how and why to make the most of a longer, multi-destination trip, so is well-placed to facilitate this burgeoning trend.

Sample itinerary: Original Travel’s 30-day Cultural Adventure Sabbatical to India and Bhutan takes in the culturally rich cities of Varanasi and Calcutta and unspoilt Bhutan. Experience boat rides, private guiding, wildlife safaris in Ranthambore National Park, archery lessons, stunning hikes and monastery visits.


When schools closed, Original Travel partnered with Oppidan Education, the leading London-based mentoring firm to create online learning modules based on ten of its favourite family-friendly destinations. The live, interactive workshops are designed to keep children’s wanderlust and curiosity in the world alive while they are unable to visit in real life. The partnership generated enquiries from parents who, following this period of homeschooling, have started to appreciate the benefits of education beyond the classroom. As such, Original Travel believes that Educational Adventures – or Edventures – will be big news in travel post-Covid-19. Having long believed in the transformative powers of travel, the bespoke tour operator already offers a wide variety of experiences which get under the skin of a destination in a family-friendly way.

Sample itinerary: Original Travel’s Big Short Break to Rome includes Gladiator school and a subterranean tour of the city with an archaeologist/time-traveller.


When the supermarket shelves were empty and the online slots were gone, many of us turned to baking our own bread and making our own pasta. Original Travel predicts that there will be an appetite (no pun intended) to take this further and that people will want to reconnect with other skills to become more self-sufficient, should disaster strike again, and more generally to reconnect with nature and traditions. As luck would have it, Original Travel was already working on a collection of itineraries which focus on reconnecting with lost life skills and had pinpointed the best places to visit and tap into our primal instincts. Transylvania for example, is virtually untouched by modern life, somewhere that locals still live off the land, using ancient methods for beekeeping, foraging and shepherding. It’s the perfect place to reconnect with those skills of our ancestors that have been lost to time and technology.

Sample itinerary: Original Travel’s Reconnect in Transylvania trip teaches how to bake and cook traditional recipes, how ironmongers and tile-makers still practise the methods of their ancestors and about the rich variety of local plants and their specific medicinal (and otherwise) qualities. Accompanied by an expert local guide, you can track down the healing plants and explain the various methods for home preparation, all the while listening to folkloric tales of their many uses as wild food, drinks, extracts and ointments.


Philanthropic tourism – or Philantourism, if you will – is the act of choosing a holiday or experience in order to support a destination. An evolution of voluntourism, but less of a commitment, it is simply a way to support countries that are dependent on tourism and whose economies are suffering from the aftermath of terrorism, natural disasters and now, pandemics. Sri Lanka being a prime example, having suffered two of the three within the last year. Original Travel had already seen this as an emerging trend before coronavirus hit and has no doubt it will continue to grow once travel restrictions are lifted and people are able to help the worst-affected countries get back on their feet.

Sample itinerary: A sample itinerary includes a 14-night trip to Sri Lanka, where the focus is on staying at family-owned guesthouses, using local guides, eating street food and contributing directly to the local economy.

Sustainable Travel

OK, this is not a new trend, but it will become a more important one. When asked how the pandemic will change general travel habits, the largest response (30%) was in favour of travelling more sustainably. Again, Original Travel is ahead of the curve, having already introduced rail-only itineraries, specifically aimed at those wanting to travel cleanly and greenly. The new collection of trips all depart from London and travel south to France, Spain and Italy, north to Scandinavia and east to Switzerland, Austria and Romania.

Bubble Tourism

Original Travel will be launching a new collection of ‘Bubble Trips’, road trips which enable travellers to avoid busy airports and crowded planes to travel alone, together. These trips will also make the most of Original Travel’s favourite small, boutique hotels and its network of Concierges who will be able to advise on quiet times to visit popular places and arrange exclusive, out-of-hours access to, as well as private, guided tours.

Among the first trips to launch is an 11-night tour through France and Switzerland, with two nights in Champagne, Alsace, Lucerne, Andermatt and St Moritz and one night’s stopover on the return in the Black Forest area. For those planning a slightly more decadent return to travel, there’s also a return trip to Venice on the Belmond, in one of their new private suites. Cocooned away in a private compartment with a personal butler, this trip is the ultimate in private luxury.