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How the Tourism Industry Can Connect with the Hygge-Inspired Traveler

Over the last few years, it seems that every industry – from design and travel to fashion and food – has enthusiastically jumped on the hygge bandwagon. Media outlets ranging from The New York Times and Forbes to The Food Network and Travel & Leisure have all touted the inspirational concept, which is still heating up today. Just after the New Year, US News & World Report ran a story on “The Coziest Cities in America” (I’m lucky to reside in one!), and last month, Visit Cook County Minnesota hosted its third annual hygge festival.

How the Tourism Industry Can Connect with the Hygge-Inspired Traveler

So, what’s hygge? According to authors Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy of The Hygge Life, the word “hygge” (pronounced “hue-guh”) translates to feeling cozy from the inside out and inviting comforting elements into your daily life. While the colder months are often emphasized, Scandinavians live this every day of the year. As a destination, here’s how to get in on the lifestyle trend and connect with the hygge traveler across any season.

The Hygge Palate – Eateries and Culinary Classes

Restaurants, coffee houses, lounges, pubs and bakeries that offer comfort menu options can all be considered hygge. Think hot beverages- steeped tea, creamy hot cocoa or mulled wine (referred to as Glögg in Scandinavia). The Little Book of Hygge by Miek Wikingemphasizes that something sinful is an integral component of the ritual, therefore, indulging in cake or a pastry during travel is a must. Togetherness is also part of the theme. Here, culinary tours and cooking classes for small groups can come into play. For example, a visit to a farmer’s market that ends with the participants preparing slow-cooked dishes, such as stews or roasts can lead to casual connection amongst travelers and an appreciation of the food.

Connecting with Nature – Outdoor Activities or Organic Interior Elements

The Hygge Life adds that being surrounded by nature enables people to bring their guard down and appreciate a certain simplicity. Here, its time relinquish yourself to be present. Excursions to blossoming gardens, scenic parks, boat cruises, or picturesque mountain hikes all allow visitors to breathe in hygge. The concept also includes bringing nature indoors. Draw attention to accommodations that impart nature into the décor, whether wooden bookcases or benches, unique plants or Christmas trees during the holidays.

Lighting – Lamps, Fires or Rays of Sunshine

Rooms outfitted with soft low lighting, a crackling fireplace or soothing lit candles (non-scented) all help create what is referred to as an emotional coziness. Particularly during the months of shorter sunlight, this helps delicately illuminate interior surroundings. During the warmer time of year, less emphasis is on candles, but taking advantage of the direct natural sunlight in the outdoors. Itineraries that include waterfront activities, biking, picnics or dining al fresco under the open sky all illustrate spring or summertime hygge.

Soft Textures – Attire and Accessories

From clothing to furniture décor, casual and comfortable is key. For cooler temperatures, encourage guests to bring along wool socks, layers of fluffy clothing and scarves. For outdoor activities, it’s about bundling up in snuggly fabrics. Consider arranging a cozy scene where guests can curl up in fuzzy throw blankets, soft pillows, cushions or sheepskin rugs. Keep the colors natural with hues of whites, greys or light pinks.

Tokens of Gratitude – Hygge-Inspired Gifts

Greet visitors with a copy of the hygge manifesto and treat them to a journal for reflections on their encounters along their trip. Upon departure, send them away with local items to impart hygge into their home – a candle, tea or homemade jam, or a carved crystal from the earth.

Practice Makes Perfect – Your Turn at Hygge

Organize an office or at-home party to try out the Danish art form and take note on how it makes everyone feel. Have guests sign up to bring hygge-themed food pot-luck style (a potato bar, grilled cheese sandwiches, mulled wine and chocolate fondue were hits at Break the Ice Media!). Inform everyone to dress accordingly and thoughtfully place candles, plants and fluffy blankets and pillows around the room. The experience makes for a delightful break that will inspire your group to slow down (cell phones are not allowed), spend quality time together over comforting treats and encourage feeling grateful for where you right now. 

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