The familiar spots still beckon but Kochi city folk are making a beeline for exotic destinations across the globe this summer.

Summer break has started and the kids are raring for some new adventures. With the heat on the rise as well, some families in the city are opting to use the searing months to travel to faraway places. While some years ago, a vacation to Singapore or Malaysia was considered an extravagant affair, today city residents have no second thoughts before setting their sights on the much more welcoming summer of Europe and the history seeped Holy Land to the North West.

According to Prabhu R.N., Branch in-charge at Kuoni SOTC, Kochi, Europe is one of the most happening places on the tourism map right now, with the package tours offered by the company being taken up enthusiastically by holiday goers from the city. As those who have watched the movie ‘Éurotrip’ would know, there is plenty to experience on the continent, though the family vacation packages that are popular in the city are a much more luxurious affair than the shenanigans of the film’s teenaged protagonists. “Nowadays a lot of people are taking up our Europe package that takes them through countries like the U.K, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. While we also have a dedicated Switzerland trip, people prefer to cram as many sights and memorable moments into the trip as possible,” says Prabhu.

Multitude of choices

While the Kuoni SOTC crowd may prefer the welcoming climes of Europe, other clients prefer the towering spires and rich heritage of the Holy Land, visiting Israel and Jordan, before going on to the mighty pyramids of Egypt. But despite the new demand for far-flung locales, another class of people is discovering the treasures of nearby attractions like Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Colombo. Says R. Karthik Varma, CEO of D’ Compass Leisure Management, “The trend in international travel is changing now. Malayalis, who used to ask for Ooty or Kodaikanal tours are now looking at Singapore, Malaysia, Colombo and so on. The cheap airfare offered by some airline companies has also played in their favour. More nuclear families and bachelors are looking to go abroad now than ever before. While families prefer to travel alone or in familiar groups, bachelors generally lean towards larger groups and cheaper accommodation.”

Both Prabhu and Karthik concur that the number of enquiries for international holidays is rising sharply each year, with Singapore and Malaysia being popular destinations among the budget conscious and as a starting point for globetrotters. Some have even made a habit of making an international trip every year, exploring the map step by step.

Experiences aplenty

This is exactly what Elbin Peter P.J., a High Court lawyer, and his friends have been doing over the past few years. Elbin is more than happy to regale listeners with a tale or two from his travels across the globe. “We started out with trips to Singapore and Malaysia, then spread our range further, going on to visit Prague, Poland, Paris, Berlin and Istanbul. These places have so much history and heritage and are yet surprisingly affordable to visit. There is a misconception that Europe is too expensive to plan a trip to, but in my experience it is no harder on the wallet than an average day out in Kochi,” he says.

Another misconception he is quick to dismiss is that the Holy Land is an out-of-the-way location not many would choose to visit, describing how his travelling company met two other Malayali families in the city. Listening to him talk lovingly about the sights and sounds of the Galata, the timeless Hagia Sophia and the varied culture of Istanbul, describe the perfect reconstruction of Warsaw after the World Wars, and elaborate on the architecture of Prague, it is difficult not to feel a pang of longing to see these places firsthand.

Going by the trends, there are no one-size-fits-all destinations. Some choose to explore familiar waters; others choose to travel across the globe. But whether you prefer the sparkling waters of Colombo and the Andamans or the milder weather across the ocean, there is no better time than the present to consider a trip beyond the nation’s borders and indulge that travel bug.