Casual Travel

Trends / Realness
Klaus Vedfelt
Sandra Michalska
Nov 21, 2023
Social media has changed the way we picture travel. Far from your mom's finger in the frame or closed eyes for family travel photos, social media gave rise to the crafted travel selfies and the undeniable star of the instragrammable travel moment — over‑the‑shoulder shots of picture‑perfect destinations. So, what's next for travel visuals?
You can call it nostalgia or casual spontaneity, but our VisualGPS consumer survey shows that 6 in 10 Europeans prefer to see images of the travel destination that are realistic and look like pictures they/their friends or family would take. Move over perfectly crafted travel imagery, photo dumps are transforming the social landscape with low‑effort, unedited randomness — reminiscent of simpler times, when travel pictures were often spontaneous and less “storified”. Photo dumps and other social trends have an impact on younger generations' travel decision‑making, as nearly 1 in 3 Zoomers look to social media posts from people they know as they plan a trip. This can be seen in advertising, too. Recent campaigns from brands like Flix1, HotelTonight2, or Mariott3, are inviting travelers to plan less and enjoy the unexpected – an attitude allowed by the increasingly flexible working environment and tight budgets, both promoting closer destinations and casual cityscapes instead of bucket list destinations.
This visual evolution from picture‑perfect to spontaneous is essential for travel messaging. 75% of European consumers prefer seeing visuals of casual and affordable travel over luxurious trips. However, our VisualGPS research on popular visuals reveals nuances in how “casual” is visualized by our travel customers across Europe. In France, outdoor off‑season experiences like hiking often depict casual travel as affordable. In Germany, camera selfies of travelers predominate creating casual, informal, and friendlier connections with the viewer. While UK travel customers focus on affordable transport choices, city breaks, and staycations with candid moments highlighting casual as accessible and affordable.

Elevate your creativity
Move beyond social media travel clichés. When choosing visuals, prioritize spontaneity, in‑the‑moment discoveries, and unexpected experiences and emotions. Remember, the best travel memories are often unplanned.

Consider visuals that emphasize casual and relatable aesthetics over luxury and aspiration. Include off‑season and off‑the‑beaten‑track trips, accessible and informal experiences, relaxed styling, and unfiltered travel moments. 
1. Mobility Provider Flix Inspires Travellers to Swap Digital for Real Life Experiences (Little Black Book)
2. HotelTonight Plans Less and Lives More in Joyful Campaign (Little Black Book)
3. Marriott Bonvoy Campaign Inspires Travelers 'Roam Around the World' (Little Black Book)
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