Another year in travel, another 12 months of meltdowns and debacles. As one analyst put it, 2023 “took chaos to a new level.” Yikes. Still, travelers kept flying, including in record-breaking numbers on Thanksgiving weekend.
Whether they decided to enter the fray or just armchair travel, our readers loved stories that took them away, whether it was about a journey across London on the new Elizabeth rail line, hiking long-distance walking routes (like the new Pekoe Trail in Sri Lanka or the 637-mile Michinoku Coastal Trail in Japan), or the slow-motion ballet of whales off the coast of Long Island in New York.
And plenty of odd trends emerged, too: fake A.I.-generated guidebooks flooded Amazon, dogs flew in private jets and “sky couches” became an in-flight amenity option.
Here are eight of Travel’s most-read stories for 2023, some of which got readers very fired up (let’s say people have opinions on airplane sock etiquette).
“Housekeeping!” Does the phrase — usually following two startling knocks on the door — fill you with happiness or dread? In 2023, travel largely rebounded to prepandemic levels, but daily cleaning in hotels appeared to have become a thing of the past. Good for sustainability, perhaps (less laundry), but hotel unions are concerned the changes could threaten housekeepers’ jobs.
“Staying in a hotel without daily housekeeping service is like going out for a nice dinner and then being expected to stay and do the dishes afterward.” Allison, out west
An obscure phrase became more popular in 2023: skiplagging. Passengers discovered that, in some cases, airfares to their destination were cheaper when booked as a layover to somewhere else — so they would disembark after the first leg of the flight, and not board the second. Genius, right? Turns out, the airlines don’t think so — American Airlines banned one teenager for three years for the practice.
“Too bad for the airlines. After decades of putting the thumb screws to travelers (seat size, tarmac delays, etc.) it’s about time customers beat them at their own game!” The Eyewitness, New York
Is anyone surprised this was the most-read 36 Hours guide of the year? Laura Cappelle, a Paris-based theater critic for The Times, mapped out a weekend exploring a different side of the French capital. After reading her guide, you might dream of climbing the spiral, wrought-iron staircase in the painter Gustave Moreau’s magnificent two-story art studio.
“Incredible city. I have been lucky enough to visit several times. The one thing I recommend? Get a pastry/baguette, travel up to the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, sit down, overlook the most beautiful view of the city and watch the world go by.” Christian, Manchester
For the Guisachan Gathering, of course! Think of it as a kind of golden retriever convention, commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the breed.
“If everyone had a Golden we would live in a peaceful, crime free society, walking around happy.” John Zotto, Ischia, Italy.
Exploring a city on foot is one of the great pleasures of traveling. We mapped out seven superb city strolls: Follow a 600-year-old fortress wall in Seoul, ramble along Rio de Janeiro’s beaches and discover a spider web of passageways in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Travel is fun until things go awry — and travelers find they have little power when an operator refuses to refund thousands of dollars. This Tripped Up column — part of our travel advice series — resonated with readers, many of whom had been in similar circumstances, and who left nearly 2,000 comments. In this case, our columnist managed to secure a full refund for this reader in need, but it wasn’t easy.
“Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Outstandingly researched and executed. Turning the minutiae of the fine print of the companies involved against them was an expert stroke, masterfully accomplished.” Daniel, Orion Nebula
Have you ever sat in an airplane seat and noticed, just out of the corner of your eye … no, it’s too terrible … a bare foot creeping just by your arm rest? By the summer of 2023, travelers were overdue for a refresher on airline etiquette. Kristie Koerbel, a flight attendant for more than 20 years, laid down the law.
“Just flew back from MIA into EWR, which is a 2ish hour flight. I’m boarding in first class, just getting settled into my seat, and notice that the guy across the aisle from me already has sneakers and socks off. Not only did he sit there sockless, he also moved about the cabin and got up to use the restroom sockless. Have people lost all sense of decorum?” KeepYourFeetCovered, NY
Our annual list of destinations worth visiting sparked plenty of wonder, surprise and feisty discussion. Scroll through to be inspired for a future trip, or just to broaden your world with a spot of armchair travel.
“I couldn’t travel much when I was young, but I could dream big dreams. Eventually, I made some of those dreams come true. This kind of article helps us dream and appreciate the beautiful diversity of this planet. Life without big dreams feels empty.” Diane L Lewis, Chicago, Ill.