Understanding affluent travel behaviors and aspirations
March 17th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Understanding affluent travel behaviors and aspirations

Some travelers are eager to indulge in the luxuries they have been deprived of for the past couple of years.

According to a new global report from YouGov, “Luxury travel post-pandemic", the future of luxury travel will focus on traveler safety, sustainability policies and unique cultural experiences, including forging deeper connections to local communities and culture.

Download YouGov’s latest luxury travel report

We conducted research in 18 markets worldwide to help luxury travel providers understand where to innovate and adapt to the tastes and preferences of affluent consumers. From private villas and chalets to exclusive tours to wellness retreats and private culinary experiences, the possibilities for post-pandemic luxury travel are endless.

Travel will be more important to affluent consumers post-pandemic

High-income earners show a greater propensity to agree with the growing importance of travel (44%) than other groups and sit well above the global average of all income groups (35%) in terms of the significance they place on this activity. Our study defines the high-income demographic as those who earn higher than 200% of the median.

There’s another key segment that the global report recognizes will be a key stakeholder in the future of luxury travel: high-income groups aged 18-34 (I.e., young affluents). This group pushes the importance of travel in the post-pandemic even further than affluent consumers overall (54% vs. 44%).

Let’s unpack a few insights into what compels affluent consumers to explore the world and how brands can tap into the wealthiest segment of travelers.

Getting to know affluent travel behaviors and aspirations

Looking at how key travel segments spent their vacations and business trips last year reveals that both affluents and younger affluents are considerably more likely to have gone on business-related travel, taken longer vacations than usual and splurged more on their trips.

It’s fair to say these groups have the wander bug, as they over-index for all travel activities and are more engaged in all aspects of travel, be it for leisure or business. Below are some ways affluent consumers stand out in their travel behaviors:

  • They look for longer, more luxurious vacations. Affluent consumers, especially those under the age of 35, spent more money on holidays and vacations in the last 12 months compared to the average consumer. The data also indicates they’re taking longer vacations than they typically would.
  • They’re mixing business with pleasure. Not only have affluents and affluents aged 18-34 taken more business trips than the typical traveler last year, but they’ve also taken a vacation as an extension to a business trip—combining business and leisure. On top of this, both groups over-index on working remotely while on vacation.
  • They value travel experts. Young affluent consumers are more than twice as likely to have used a travel expert to book a vacation last year (11% vs. 5% of global consumers). Travel advisors can offer curated itineraries, convenience, and support to enhance a trip and it’s apparent that affluent travel is shaped by a desire for personalized experiences.
  • They seek enrichment. Wealthy travelers exhibit a higher propensity to chase vacation experiences beyond the normal, such as staying in health and wellness retreats or buying vacation homes. Add to this that they also seek fulfillment in traveling with wider groups of friends and family, ticking off bucket list of destinations, or moving to a different country to experience the culture and you have a general picture of what luxury travel means to affluent consumers.

Looking ahead, what glimpses of luxury travel can we expect in the near future?

Data from the report shows we can expect affluent consumers to continue spending money on vacations. This is still a high priority spending category for affluents in the coming months (22% vs. 21% last year) along with taking longer vacations than usual (21% vs. 18%).

This already signals good news for luxury travel providers but there are other areas of travel that we can anticipate will become a priority among affluent travelers. The first is the desire to travel with a wider group of friends and family, and that ranks as the top travel activity affluents want to do within the next 12 months (22% vs. 18% last year).

The appetite for bucket list experiences also strengthens with affluent consumers expressing a desire to go the places they’ve always dreamed about visiting (20% vs. 14% last year).

In addition to group and bucket list travel, the future of luxury travel will likely be shaped by meaningful travel experiences, especially as affluent consumers show they’re willing to splurge more on this type of travel.

YouGov research indicates that nearly a third of affluent consumers (31%) and young affluents (30%) are prepared to pay more for meaningful travel options such as a chance to get close to nature/remote destinations.


Another quarter say they would be willing to spend more money on custom tours to connect with local culture and environments (24% of affluents and young affluents), and eco-friendly/sustainable hotels or resorts (23% and 25%). A fifth express interest in paying a premium for expedition cruises to adventurous destinations (18% and 21%).

Ultimately, the future of luxury travel will fall on the shoulders of affluent consumers. And as younger generations begin to enter the affluent consumer market, they’ll bring with them new expectations and vigor for luxury travel. We see from the report that this involves a greater focus on wellness and mindfulness, as well as a desire to be able to combine work and travel.

Read YouGov’s new “Luxury travel post-pandemic" report to learn more about global and country-specific attitudes toward travel, including:

  • What luxury travel looks like post-pandemic
  • What luxury travel experiences consumers and affluent consumers are seeking
  • What they are prepared to pay for
  • What they aspire to, and ultimately, what their future luxury travel experience will look like

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 20 million+ members. Speak with us today.

Explore our living data – for free

Discover more travel and tourism content here

Want to run your own research? Start building a survey now

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash