What’s next in travel?

Nature treks, trips to the past and conscious dining, says Velma Corcoran Country Manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Airbnb


Just over one month into a new decade and a variety of travel trends are emerging on Airbnb. From immersive trekking experiences, to prioritising meditative self-care on the road, to the rise of more vegan friendly food experiences, travellers are seeking more ways to have unique, transformative experiences they will remember for years to come. In fact, people are willing to fork out for them.

Airbnb recently commissioned a survey to identify new travel trends emerging on Airbnb, which reveals that more people around the world are interested in unique experiences, with each generation’s preferences differing greatly. But no matter how deep the pockets or how wide the age gap, there are a number of travel trends that have risen to the top.

South Africa leads the way in Social Impact Experiences

Cape Town has the most Social Impact Experiences in the world and it’s one of the top booked Experience categories in South Africa. Social Impact Experiences build on the inherent good of travel using Airbnb, providing non-profits a platform to fundraise and promote their mission while inspiring guests of the platform to engage in social causes around the globe. Each hosting organisation decides what Experience will most help the communities they serve—whether it’s fundraising, building awareness, volunteering, or all of the above — and Airbnb waives its service fees so that 100% of the proceeds go directly to the non-profit.

One example is the Paddle with the Penguins Experience in Cape Town. Founded in 2003, AfriOceans Conservation Alliance conducts marine environmental education and awareness programmes that promote responsible tourism. Their Social Impact Experience gives guests the unique opportunity to kayak with African penguins at Boulders Beach near Cape Town. Prior to the launch of Experiences, AfriOceans was about to close—listing on Airbnb was a last, desperate measure to generate some funds. Now, upwards of 1,000 guests have taken the Paddle with the Penguins Experience through Airbnb, and AfriOceans credits Airbnb with breathing new life into their organisation.

Eating Clean and Consciously in 2020

Vegan Experiences up 579%

As the world becomes more conscious about its dietary habits, South Africa ranks among the top 25 nations where veganism is most popular. Food Experiences are becoming more plant-based, with Experiences offering vegan options up 579% globally and an increase across the world during 2019 of 570% in those offering vegetarian options compared to 2018. For travellers seeking more veggie-centric food while travelling, Mexico City and Havana tie for having the most vegan-friendly Experiences.

While Airbnb hosts are providing more sustainable food choices, guests are also leaning heavily into local carb delicacies, with Experiences across the globe including baking (up 155%) and pasta (up 88%) surging in bookings for 2020 compared to 2019.

Overall, it’s clear food remains one of the biggest motivations in travel and connecting people to new places – food and drink Experiences are the most booked by foreign travellers to a new country.

Nature Calls

Travellers want to learn more about nature and adventure this year and Marrakech should be next on their list

The yearning to get out of comfort zones and into the wilderness is bringing out the nature lover in travellers this year. These travellers are sure to get their fix in Marrakech, Morocco, home to Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. Along with Kathmandu, Nepal – which offers a four-day spirituality trek through the Himalayas – these two cities are home to the most Airbnb Adventures.

In 2020, nature is a top trending Experience category for guests globally, up 103% year-over-year, and it is the top trending category among Gen Z (260%), Baby Boomers (177%) and Traditionalists (93%), who were born between 1922 and 1945. More hosts are also offering Nature Experiences with an increase of 193% of these on Airbnb over the last year.