The ‘dupe’ trend hit travel in 2023. It’s a good way to save on your next trip, experts say


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Travel was expensive and busy in 2023, leading jetsetters to seek out cheaper, less-trodden alternatives to popular hot spots. It’s a great way to save money on trips heading into 2024, according to experts.

This concept — seeking out cheaper duplicates, or “dupes,” of pricey products — was popularized by Gen Z and millennial influencers on social media and has gained broad traction amid high inflation.

“In 2024, Americans are more likely to choose hidden-gem destinations over tried-and-true tourist hotspots for their vacations,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands.

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Flight searches for travel ‘dupes’ increased in 2023

Dupe is, of course, a new term that puts a spin on the old concept of bargain hunting.

Data shows that travelers leveraged the strategy more in 2023. For example, flight searches more than doubled for several “dupe” destinations internationally, according to Expedia data.

Searches to Taipei, a dupe for Seoul, were up 458% in the U.S. and 2,786% globally, according to Expedia. Those to Pattaya, Thailand, an alternative to Bangkok, rose 163% in the U.S. and 249% globally.

Likewise, flight searches to the island Curaçao, a stand-in for St. Martin, were up 228% in the U.S. and 185% worldwide. Those to Perth, Australia, a dupe for Sydney, jumped 33% in the U.S. and 109% globally. Additionally, those to Liverpool, England, a London alternative, spiked 138% in the U.S. and 97% worldwide, according to Expedia.

The data compared searches in the 12-month period through Aug. 31, 2023, to the same period the prior year.

“TikTok popularized the idea of dupes … and the concept is increasingly taking off in the world of travel,” Expedia said in a report published Wednesday.

Affordability is a top driver of travel dupes

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Affordability is among the top reasons cited by consumers for seeking out these alternate destinations, Expedia said.

“If you are looking to save money on your next trip, consider an alternate destination,” said Hayley Berg, lead economist at Hopper, a travel app. “Oftentimes you can save on airfare and hotel rates by picking a destination off the beaten track.”

For example, the average round-trip flight from the U.S. to Hanoi, Vietnam, is $1,564. Travelers would save money by flying instead to Ho Chi Minh City, where a flight averages $1,326, Hopper said.

In a similar vein, let’s say you’re considering a trip to Spain.

A round-trip flight to Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands, costs $827, on average. Instead, you might consider a trip to Barcelona, a popular metropolis, where a flight costs an average $572, according to Hopper. Likewise, flights to Phuket, Thailand, an island getaway, cost $1,705 round trip, while flights to the capital Bangkok cost $1,404. The Hopper prices are current averages for departures in December to March.

In 2024, Americans are more likely to choose hidden-gem destinations over tried-and-true tourist hotspots for their vacations.
Jon Gieselman
president of Expedia Brands

More Americans planned trips abroad this year as their pandemic-era health fears waned and countries largely reopened their borders to visitors. Americans applied for passports in record numbers in 2022 and 2023.

That surging demand caused prices to surge across the travel spectrum. Airfare to Europe, the most popular destination for U.S. tourists, was the most expensive on record in summer 2023.  

Internet search traffic in the U.S. for travel dupes spiked throughout 2023, peaking in July, according to Google Trends data.

It’s more than just the flight price

However, Hopper flight data indicates that not all dupes will necessarily pay off for travelers. They may need to try a few different alternatives to find savings.

For example, the average round-trip flight from the U.S. to Perth, the aforementioned dupe for Sydney, currently costs $2,389, while a flight to Sydney costs $1,572, according to Hopper. However, travelers who look a bit farther afield — to Nadi, Fiji, or Auckland, New Zealand — would spend $1,365 and $1,394, respectively, Hopper said.

However, dupes aren’t just about the airfare. People traveling off the beaten track can often save on food, hotels and local transportation, said Sara Rathner, travel expert at NerdWallet.

Avoiding “way over-touristed” locales, especially if traveling during peak season, can also be a more enjoyable experience due to smaller crowds, Rathner said.

When picking a “dupe” destination, travelers should research details such as amenities, infrastructure and safety considerations, Rathner added. Reading online travel articles and blogs, and asking friends who may have visited before, can give a general sense as to potential itineraries and the ease of lodging and getting around, she said.

To save money on general travel, try being flexible with trip dates, Berg said. For example, flying on a Tuesday can save you $100 on domestic airfare, while departing Monday through Wednesday can save up to $150 per international ticket, Berg said.

Hotel stays are most expensive Friday and Saturday night. Starting a stay on Sunday can save an average of 25% off weekend rates, she added.

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