The Budget Travel Trends of 2012 – 2013

HostelBookers recently used their internal data to create the info graphic above which shows the most popular destinations of 2012 according to how many hostel bookings each received via their website. It also shows which cities received the largest increase and decrease in bookings in 2012 compared to what they received in 2011. Essentially what the map above shows is what destinations are hot right now, which ones are becoming rapidly more/less popular, and which cities your budget will go furthest in…

Having visited many of the destinations that featured on the HostelBookers budget travel trends map, I thought it would be interesting to look further into why each destination finished in the positions that they did based on my own first hand experience of each. Was there any surprises? Is there a reason behind some of the positioning, drops, or rises in bookings? I also hope my personal analysis will help you choose where you visit in 2013!

Top 10 – Any surprises?

By enlarge the top 10 wasn’t a huge surprise other than the fact Venice didn’t feature while Milan did (Although this could be explained by the fact Venice is predominantly visited by couples with a higher budget than a typical backpacker, and HostelBookers typical demographic is budget backpackers.) It was also interesting to see that it was only European destinations that featured in the Top 10, which shows that despite Europe being one of the most expensive continents to travel, budget travellers are still choosing to go there! In my own ‘guesstimations’ I would have put at least one non-European city in there such as Sydney or Bangkok when it comes to popularity with backpackers. However, it just goes to show that the bookings don’t lie, and Europe is really triumphing over the other continents when it comes to attracting budget travellers who stay in hostels! What would be interesting though would be to find out which cities finished just outside of the Top 10…

Cities with the biggest rise in bookings…

Budapest was a city I had visited last year in late 2011, and I have seen since then it’s rise in popularity. However, it was still a huge surprise to see the extent of it’s rise in popularity with bookings increasing by 45% this year, putting it right into the top 10 most visited in 2012! A large part of this has got to be to do with how cheap Budapest and Hungary is in general compared to many of the other European destinations that featured. There are also a lot of cheap flights to Budapest through budget airlines.

The largest increase in bookings overall went to Manila, capital city of the Philippines, which had a whopping 118% increase in bookings in 2012 over at HostelBookers. The Philippines is a developing country that has some amazing areas of natural beauty. It’s also insanely cheap! I can see Manila increasing further in 2013 in terms of popularity, so if you want to see the city before it gets too overrun by tourists I would go now!

Havana was also an interesting inclusion into the fastest growing cities of 2012 in popularity with budget travellers. It had a 72% increase in bookings this year. A lot this I believe is to do with Cuba loosening it’s laws a little bit on who can go in/out the country this year. If the Cuban government continue to go down this path in 2013 I can definitely see Havana becoming one of the major tourist destinations of the future. There is certainly an allure to it already.

Which cities are decreasing in popularity?

Athens and Santorini were of no real surprise when it comes to places which received a decrease in bookings this year. Both went down by 37% in comparison to bookings made in 2011. Greece has been in the news recently for a lot of negative reasons. Especially the violence in Athens that has been shown in the news during recent protests to the economic cuts has probably not helped tourism. I imagine these images being shown all around the world can not be helpful. That said, I visited BOTH Athens and Santorini in 2o12 and found them both to be absolutely fine as far as safety goes. I particularly loved Athens, but most people will probably prefer the red, white, and black beaches of Santorini…

Where was the cheapest?

What was an interesting inclusion on this map was that HostelBookers included data of how many days 100 GBP would get you in certain cities around the world. By far and away this showed South East Asia to be the place where your money will last the longest. In Siem Reap they say you can last 38.9 days on just a hundred quid!!! Chiang Mia also came close with 33 days being what’s possible on that amount of money. Nowhere else mentioned on the budget travel trends map came close to South East Asia when it came to how long your money would last, although in Berlin it was possible to last 8 days – which for Europe is pretty good. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it would be possible in the heart of the off-season to last even longer than that in Berlin as I’ve seen hostels list their prices as low as €3 a night for a dorm bed during those months when they are getting few bookings!

Wifi cities & mobile bookings

It seems Italy had the highest amount of hostel bookings made by via a mobile (cell) phone. For me this was no major surprise as getting a decent wifi connection in Italy is surprisingly hard, so I imagine a lot of people have to use their 3G internet!  South East Asia also appeared to have the most hostels with wifi listed as included in their services, with Singapore even having 100% of hostels listed as having wifi available! Asia has always been a very tech savy continent, especially in the more affluent Asian countries so this was not a major surprise either, however it was still interesting to see all the data confirmed.

Overall the budget travel trends data from HostelBookers tells us many things. It shows that Europe is the most popular continent for budget travellers (booking hostels). It shows us that countries which feature badly in the press and/or have no money to promote themselves suffer a decline in tourism, and it shows us that if you’re poor and want to travel get your bum to South East Asia! And thanks to HostelBookers for providing this interesting data!

2 Responses to “The Budget Travel Trends of 2012 – 2013”

  1. Emma says:

    I definitely didn’t expect to see Milan…

  2. Andy says:

    This is an interesting production by Hostel Bookers. Unfortunately, I wish that they wouldn’t do things like this as it promotes tourism to cheap place, thus making them more expensive.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply