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Nearly half of travellers agree first day of their vacation sets tone for rest of trip

The first 24 hours of a vacation are crucial, with nearly half of travelers (46%) believing that the first day sets the tone for the rest of the vacation, and just over one in three (36%) going as far to say that these hours can make or break their trip.

But how do these hours play out? What are our ultimate priorities during that first day on holiday? And do our hopes, worries and pre-travel perceptions match the reality? Booking.com conducted research across over 18,000 people from 25 countries worldwide, to investigate what really goes on in the first 24 hours of a vacation.

When respondents were asked about the top things they’d want to do during the first day of their vacation, the results paint an interesting picture of a 21st Century traveler. While more ‘traditional’ elements such as unpacking bags (63%), exploring accommodation (60%) and starting to plan for the next day’s activities (53%) came out as the top three activities, the research also shows how varied and much more tech orientated our activities on holiday are today compared to holidays gone by,

- Take the ultimate picture for social media channels (27%, rising to 37% for 18-34 year olds)
- Go online to check out local restaurant reviews (26%)
- Meet someone new/attempt to make new friends (24%)
- Try to improve language skills (16%)
- Order room service (15%)
- Listen to my holiday playlist (13%)
- Check work emails (10%)

In terms of how long it takes travelers to do these activities, results revealed that taking pictures for social media channels, checking work emails and ordering room service all tend to happen before the more traditional aspects of a vacation like indulging in our first vacation ice cream and hitting the pool - 47% have a holiday treat within the first hour and only 19% hit the pool, versus 54% who take pictures, 56% who check emails and 57%, who order room service, within the same timeframe.

In the first 24 hours of a vacation, activities involving accommodation ranked highly in traveller’s list of priorities. Exploring the accommodation came second (60%) and over one third of travelers (36%) said one of their top things to do on day one is to test out the bed, by jumping or having a snooze on it.

Reflecting the importance of getting comfortable in our temporary home base, when asked about the top things to take advantage of in their accommodation in the first 24 hours, the results revealed,

- A comfortable mattress (44%)
- An amazing view (39%)
- A hearty breakfast (35%)
- A spacious room (33%)
- Strong Wi-Fi signal (32%)

It appears that some vacationers prefer the simple things, with 16% saying that anything complimentary is important, 9% preferring the mini toiletries and one in 20 (6%) opting to make the most of the “Do Not Disturb” sign!

While nearly four in 10 (38%) travelers believe that the first 24 hours of a trip are the most memorable, high expectations can mean we’re prone to worrying that things won’t go as well as we want with almost one third (29%) saying they worry about things going wrong in the first day. But are these anxieties founded? How much do we expect a different first 24 hours to what actually happens?

When questioned about what travellers were worried would happen versus what actually happened, it’s clear that we tend to fret more than we need to:

- Four in 10 (39%) were worried they would lose their luggage; this may be more of an urban myth as only eight per cent had this happen to them.

- Forty per cent fretted about accommodation not living up to their expectations but their vacation story had a happy ending as 83% were pleasantly surprised when this actually did

- Other anxieties that didn’t materialise include not being able to satisfy hunger by finding a good place to eat (35%) and fretting about falling ill (34%)

- One key worry for travellers was not being able to get online/connect to Wi-Fi (40% worried about this!), reinforcing the keenness for travellers to be as tech-forward as possible. In actual fact over 7 in 10 (73%) said the opposite was true and they were able to log on to their heart’s content.

On the flip side, perception matches reality when it comes to our vacation hopes with these often being met. It was revealed that

- Over half (54%) hoped to arrive to perfect weather; actually more than six in 10 (62%) said their wish came true proving the weather gods may well exist

- One in three (33%) said they’d hoped to make friends with other travelers; we’re a friendly bunch as the same number’s wish came true (32%)

- Just over one in three said they were able to take the best picture for their social media channels (35%, rising to 46% of 18-34 year olds!)

- Over a third (35%) discovered a hidden gem

- Nearly one in five (19%) received an accommodation upgrade

- Over one in 10 (13%) must have been speaking the language of love as they actually met a holiday romance in the first day.

When looking at traveler reviews on Booking.com, the nationalities most likely to talk about the above positive elements in their reviews and who may well have had the most fulfilling first 24 hours are Russians, Dutch, Thai, Spanish and Norwegians.

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