We’re a nation of travel braggers

It’s no secret Singaporeans are a well-traveled lot. We call "exotic" Southeast Asia our backyard and we make trips to Japan, Australia and Europe almost routinely. And how many of our friends have we seen post images of the aurora and random hipster cafes on social media? Too many. Come 2018, while all that’s not about to change drastically, a few new travel trends have started to emerge.

In terms of destinations, data from Skyscanner indicates that places like Cape Town in South Africa, Jaipur in India, and Nadi in Fiji are some of the fastest growing in interest. Flight searches from Singapore to these places have climbed 37%, 63% and 75% respectively, from 2016 to 2017, and the growth is not about to abate anytime soon heading into 2018. The reason for the enthusiasm in such places is due to us increasingly on the lookout for off-the-beaten-track places and deeply authentic local experiences when we travel.

In addition to these hot emerging destinations, it’s likely Singapore travelers will soon add Paraguay to their list for next year, given that the South American country has recently removed visa requirements for Singaporeans.

According to another set of data, this time by Kayak, actual forward bookings in 2018 show that the cities of Rome in Italy, Boston in the US and Ipoh in Malaysia have shown the strongest surge in interest. This means that many here have already booked flights to these places for next year. How come, you ask? It’s because the earlier you purchase seats on these flights, the cheaper they are, and by the most significant amount. As of now, the average price for a flight to Rome next year costs only $786 (based on prices from the first three quarters of 2017).

But one of the biggest drivers of travel interest going forward isn’t price nor experience, but the vapid pursuit for the perfect photo moment to be shared splat on social media. Yes, we’re talking about the uploading of envy-inducing travel photos on Instagram and Facebook. While nothing new, this self-indulgent trend is only set to rapidly rise next year.

A survey by accommodation bookings site Hotels.com shows that Singaporeans are more keen to “chase holiday experiences that give them bragging rights on social feeds”—the top experiences on the list include chasing the Northern Lights, touring the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, climbing the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and touching (as opposed to just looking at) the Niagara Falls.

Overall, the results revealed that one in three Singaporeans take to platforms like Facebook and Instagram as their biggest inspiration when compiling their bucket lists. Basically, it’s FOMO that’s galvanizing people’s traveling decisions, and that’s sad.

Whatever happened to simply enjoying the wonder of traveling to a new and undiscovered place?