Then vs now: What Aussies love about travel has stood the test of time.

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Contiki | Sixties Suitcase Challenge
📷 Contiki | Sixties Suitcase Challenge

Marking the 60th anniversary of the OG youth travel operators, new research* from Contiki reveals the best parts of travel are timeless.

Whether it’s a picnic under the Eiffel Tower or admiring the timeless beauty of the Greek Islands, sightseeing remains the most loved part of travel with over half (54%) of Aussies agreeing. Whether it was back in 1962 or it’s today in 2022, Aussies love to travel to immerse themselves in new cultures (42%) and new experiences (40%).

Friend-trips for friendships

Friends, new or old, are certainly an important part of travel. Aussies are looking to catch flights not feelings, make friends not have flings, with just 1% travelling for the possibility of a holiday bae. Friendships are the most important part of travel for one in six Aussies (16%), while women (41%) are more likely than men (30%) to travel to make new memories with old friends.

To remind people of the everlasting moments of travel and the importance of friends along the way, Contiki partnered with Millie Ford, one of the nation’s fave TikTok creators, for the Sixties Suitcase Challenge. Armed with a Polaroid, a retro radio and some Swinging Sixties fashion, Millie experienced a Contiki Tour straight from 1962. Yes, that’s right, no auto-translate. No apps. No internet. Just Millie, her suitcase, and a bunch of Contiki trip mates.

“Travelling with minimal technology and only the 60s-style essentials was definitely a challenge. In the early days I found myself reaching into my pocket to check my Instagram or find my way on Google Maps, but what this 12-day tour made me realise is I don’t need a phone or internet connection to meet new people and form a strong bond with one another. Socially, travel hasn’t changed much – I imagine back in the 60s you were still meeting people and making friends, and this is what made my trip such an unforgettable experience,” says Ford.

Stripped back to have only the essentials and the company of her Contiki trip mates, Millie was able to focus on the social connections made during her time abroad. With 51% of the nation missing being truly in the moment when travelling in 2022, it’s time to make room for these everlasting social travel moments.

It turns out you might just ‘find yourself’ when travelling

The benefits of travel are undeniable. A huge seven in 10 Aussies (71%) feel like a better version of themselves after a holiday, putting some truth to the age-old cliché of going to Europe to ‘find yourself’. Contiki booking data showed that 64% of travellers headed to Europe, with Italy, Greece, Britain, Ireland and Spain as the top European destinations for 2022 – Aussies will likely head there again in 2023.

It kind of seems like there isn’t a problem a holiday can’t fix. Time abroad leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to dive back into our day-to-day routine (60%) and, overall, happier with life (57%). Dancing on the tables in Mykonos or a refreshing dip in Lake Como resulted in:

  • One in four (28%) feeling less anxious or depressed.
  • One in eight (12%) feeling loved and supported by their new friends.
  • One in 20 (6%) feeling finally ready to go after their dream job.

Feeling refreshed after a vacation isn’t a new thing, but young Aussies are the ones who feel it the most. Over four in five (82%) 18- to 29-year-olds – compared to three in five (60%) over 50s – feel like a better version of themselves after a holiday. So, don’t be shy, book that vacay!

What are you packing?

Even though what we love about travel hasn’t changed, the essentials that we pack have certainly evolved. Pre-2000s, more than one in three Aussies (37%) wouldn’t leave home without a guidebook. Now, they’re mostly collecting dust in your local Vinnies or your grandparents’ attic.

Pre-2000s:

  • Local currency (68%)
  • Film camera (62%)
  • Guidebook (37%)
  • Map (28%)
  • Address book (20%)

Today:

  • Smartphone (96%)
  • Power bank (33%)
  • Noise-cancelling headphones (16%)
  • HD camera (15%)
  • Cable organiser (11%)

With four in five Aussies (80%) unable to travel without Google Maps, it’s no wonder a paper map feels like a relic from a long-lost time. Facebook (34%), Google Translate (32%), Instagram (21%) and YouTube (17%) follow behind as the most popular travel apps.

Using tech to assist with making travel plans and decisions becomes less popular as Aussies get older. Most Gen Zs and Millennials, between the age of 18 and 29, are more likely to rely on online travel reviews when planning a holiday. This seems to become less common as we age with grace with only 22% of Boomers over the age of 61 using this to guide their trip decisions. Additionally, just under 10% of most Boomers over the age of 61 use technology to book a restaurant or reservation when travelling abroad. No need for Google or Siri, a simple phone call will do just fine!

Ready to throw it back?

One in three Aussies (38%) wish they could travel how they did in the 1960s. Retro travel is most desired by those who’ve done it, more than four in five (82%) Aussies that are keen to throwback have travelled at some point in the 1960s to 1980s.

Toni Ambler, Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand, Contiki explains that the things Aussies are missing about vintage travel are still the things we love about travel today.

“As we look back on the previous 60 years of travel, it’s fascinating to see the changes and innovations around how people choose to travel, and the way the brand has evolved to meet the needs of our travellers. We’ve seen such an evolution in popular destinations, and travel styles as well as the changes technology has brought to the overall travel experience. But when you pull apart the trends, the one thing that has remained constant over these last 60 years is the desire for human connection and to have a social travel experience whilst making memories for life. In 2022, over 70% of Australians said one of the most important parts of travelling is the memories and sharing these with friends and family.”

In the early days, travellers would have packed paper maps, heavy travel guides and a film camera. In contrast, today we have access to tools such as AI with Alexa and a smartphone to document their trip, with 80% of Aussies saying they couldn’t live without social media when travelling.

“Since our first tour to Europe in 1962, each trip has been designed to deliver the things we’ve always loved about travel: new memories, new experiences and new friends. Contiki tours have always been best experienced with friends, old or new. Technology is optional,” says Ambler.