Top 5 Travel Trends for the Upcoming Winter

Top 5 Travel Trends for the Upcoming Winter

Snowbirding, sunseekers, seasonal travelers — there is no better time to vacation than the winter. When sunlight becomes scarce between October and March, it’s normal to crave a change of scenery. Even if travels take one to another chilly destination, the spark of adventure is undeniably attractive.

Changes to the travel industry have made a winter vacation even more exciting. An increase in the use of AI or a departure from the usual hustle and bustle of the airport — based on our research and 2023 travel patterns, we’ve found travel trends and destinations that are hot for the colder months. 

To help you plan your customer’s next trip, we’ll cover these travel changes and our top trending destinations. 

RateHawk Blog
8 minutes read

Avoiding the airport

Airports have been overstressed in the last few years, with staffing issues and weather delays ruining planned trips for thousands. Holiday air travel in 2022 was extraordinarily worse than in past years. 

Avoiding the airport is a great way to travel without having to worry about lost baggage, missed connections, and costly trip delays. But what do people do instead? 

According to RateHawk’s internal research, trains and other anti-airport alternatives are growing increasingly popular since slow travel can be a great way to reduce one’s carbon footprint and make more eco-friendly choices. 

Amidst the recent tumult of overstressed airports, many travelers are turning to trains and alternative routes for a more reliable and eco-conscious journey.
Photo: Marius Dobilas /

In fact, climate change alone seems to be one of the major factors that has made travel by train a popular choice in 2023. Pinterest Predicts tracks Pinterest user data as users plan for the future. Train-related searches and pins saw a massive increase in 2022, making Pinterest predict that trains are set to make a massive comeback for winter 2023 travel. 

The value of the rail industry is also expected to rise within the next 4-5 years, supporting the data that shows renewed interest in travel by train. 

Taking advantage of loyalty programs

One of the good things to come out of the pandemic was the hotel industry’s renewed interest in customer loyalty programs. To encourage people to return to traveling, hotels sought new and innovative ways to win customer loyalty once again to increase travel demand.

Last year, hotel chains reported massive increases in rewards sign-ups, which indicates that these reward programs are more than worth the slight annoyance of promotional emails. 

Using points can lead to major savings on hotel rates and added perks that your clients wouldn’t have otherwise had room for in their travel budget.

Some of these perks are minor, like free Wi-Fi, but others can include free room upgrades, free dinner at hotel restaurants, complimentary spa treatments, and more.

Raising a toast to the rejuvenated spirit of hospitality, hotels now enhance guest stays with loyalty rewards, turning simple points into lavish perks from free Wi-Fi to sumptuous dinners and luxurious spa indulgences.
Photo: New Africa/

It’s also important to remember that hotel loyalty programs are typically organized by an entire chain, meaning your customer can earn more points than if the program was just for one brand. Examples of popular hotel loyalty programs include IHG Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Best Western Rewards, and Hilton Honors. 

The use of AI in the travel industry

Travel is also getting easier with recent developments in technology. With the use of AI, travelers can be more independent and don’t need to rely on talking to human customer service reps to adjust flights, bookings, and plans. 

Earlier this year, the importance of integrating generative AI into these practices to help aid travelers with their individual predicaments was pointed out by the major publishers. Chatbots have advanced to the point where they are now a sustainable option for expediting these changes online. These changes were seen especially after the emergence of the popular AI software Chat-GPT.

Travel evolves with AI, granting travelers autonomy as chatbots, powered by the likes of Chat-GPT, streamline modifications to itineraries with ease and precision.
Photo: Idol Design/

With Chat-GPT, chatbots have a more humanlike quality to them. In fact, many people believe that chatbots are better than ever. AI chatbots are much more likely to handle customer service interactions from start to finish than ever before. 

New technology is also being used for hotel check-in processes, such as mobile room keys, QR code Wi-Fi logins and surveys, and hotel AI chatbots.

These improvements have travelers excited for their next trips to see what has changed.

Going somewhere new

The COVID-19 pandemic had everyone feeling housebound, and it’s taken a while for people to feel comfortable with leaving the nest. Now that the world has moved past the height of the pandemic, people are eager to set their sights on somewhere new, which usually means straying farther than they have in years past. 

This phenomenon has been labeled ‘post-COVID travel revenge,’ where people are more eager to break out of their comfort zone than ever before. We don’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon, either. 73% of people were more optimistic about travel in 2023 than they were in 2022. 

Embracing the post-COVID era of travel, adventurers are breaking free from the confines of their homes, venturing further with renewed zeal and optimism for the journeys ahead.
Photo: Svetlana Kurapova/

Despite rising prices, people are still excited about the prospects of seeing somewhere new for winter 2023. You may be asking yourself — but where are they going? We’ll touch specifically on where people are heading in our next section.

International travel is on the menu again, with many countries completely getting rid of their COVID-19 travel restrictions. Also, the fear of getting stuck with COVID-19 in another country is less prevalent, as lockdown seems to be a thing of the past. 

Top trending destinations

According to RateHawk’s internal research, the most popular travel destinations for winter 2023 are Italy, the USA, Germany, Spain, and France. 

But why these countries in particular? In this section, we’ll break down each country, why they are popular among tourists, where they can get the best travel experience, and what your customers should absolutely do while on a winter trip there. 

1. Italy

Full of history, gorgeous architecture, and warm temps, Italy is the perfect destination for those in search of an enriching getaway. Travelers will explore the great historical marvels they learned about in school, such as Michelangelo’s David, the Roman Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and even the ruins of Pompeii. 

Must-see attractions in Italy vary on the region. In the winter, most tourists in search of warm weather flock to major centers like Rome, Florence, and Naples, which are all located in Southern Italy, also known as Tuscany. 

Northern Italy’s Dolomite mountains, a region steeped in history with stunning architecture, invite travelers to immerse in an enriching experience amidst Italy’s warmth and grandeur.
Photo: Piotr Krzeslak/

Northern Italy also offers opportunities for those who would prefer a cold-weather vacation with access to the snowy Alps. A visit to the Italian Alps provides a much different experience than one to Southern Italy, but with plenty of skiing, resorts, and mountainside towns to explore, Northern Italy is also highly popular. 

Off to Italy now!

2. United States

The United States has many regions to choose from for a winter vacation. The best part about choosing the U.S. as your customer’s vacation destination is that depending on where they go, they can have a vastly different experience with the weather. 

From the chilly mountains of Alaska to the sunny beaches of California, it’s why travelers are crazy about this diverse travel option. Popular cities to visit in the winter include those that are located in the South and Southwest of the country for warm weather, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, Orlando, and Miami. 

Embracing the U.S. winter, a traveler’s choice ranges from Alaska’s frosty peaks to California’s sunlit shores, offering a delightful contrast in climates and experiences.
Photo: Olezzo/

Americans also love to travel around their country during the winter, during the holidays of Thanksgiving, and around Christmas time. According to Statista, in 2019, over 118 million people traveled in the United States. Be aware that your clients may find packed airports and increased hotel prices during these time periods. 

Off to the U.S. now!

3. Germany

Winter in Germany is known for having some of the best Christmas atmospheres in the entire world. With chilled air perfect for warm beverages and the chance for snow, it’s obvious why travelers are obsessed with traveling to Germany for winter.

The winter markets are spectacular and can be found in all the major cities in Germany, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Each of these cities also provides opportunities for nightlife, viewing historical architecture, visiting museums, and delicious, authentic German food. 

Frankfurt’s vibrant Christmas market captures the winter wonder of Germany with festive lights, cozy delights, and a rich cultural tapestry in its historic core.
Photo: S.Borisov /

Like Italy, Germany is also home to some of the Alps in the state of Bavaria, making winter sports also plentiful, with opportunities for skiing and luxe ski resorts. If your client is looking for a place to relax and sip a warm beverage, Germany is a great option. 

Off to Germany now! 

4. Spain

Spain can be wonderfully warm, even in the winter, and is known for its large cities, which allow visitors to enjoy nightlife, restaurants, and excitement. 

Popular warm cities to visit in the winter are Barcelona, Seville, and Valencia, as they are usually warmer, especially compared to what most other European cities experience in the winter.

Basking in Seville’s winter warmth, the Giralda stands as a proud symbol above the cathedral, embodying the vibrant life in Spain’s sunnier cities during the cooler season
Photo: Mlle Sonyah /

Tourists are typically scarce in Spain during winter, but locals like to travel to large cities to complete their holiday shopping. This experience strikes the perfect balance for those who want to see Spain without the typical summer rush. 

Off to Spain now!

5. France

France mostly offers a colder winter vacation experience. Like Germany, France also has a beautiful display of holiday cheer in the winter. Major French cities such as Paris, Strasbourg, Rennes, and Bordeaux host legendary Christmas markets and light displays. 

France is another country that offers access to the prolific mountain range, the Alps. The French Alps are the perfect place for winter sports, snow activities, and days in a cabin by the fire.

However, there is also sunshine to be found in southern France. Cote d’Azur, for example, is right along the Mediterranean and offers gentle sunshine. Though the temperatures are mild, a trip to the Mediterranean coast of France might be just what your clients need this winter. 

Off to France now!

Parisian charm in winter: While France enchants with snowy Alpine adventures, cities like Paris captivate with festive lights and a cozy ambiance, offering a picturesque holiday experience.
Photo: Marina Datsenko /

These trends show promise for the future of travel. From fun and exciting destinations to new technology, it’s exciting to see what travelers choose to do this upcoming winter. 

For those who are willing to see how these trends will help them get the best travel experience for their clients, it’s time to start planning!

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