In 2021, Covid-19 guided our travel behavior. This year's trends are a further enigma to the pandemic fall-out. The dominos continue to roll down the path of how the disease affects our lives. But they are taking a slightly different turn. Australia was predicted to be a major destination with borders expected to open, however, the government has closed at least a part of the country again in recent days with a 2-week quarantine to boot. Long-distance vacations are at the top of the list... as long as people can find flights and accommodations that offer failsafe options for cancellation. Last year, we chose destinations close to home or staycations. The 2022 travel trends point back to bucket lists and a general Covid/ lockdown fatigue that has us throwing the door to life's opportunities wide open. Let's have a look!
New in 2022 – Since vaccines and booster jabs, the implementation of 'vaccine passports' is an ever more prevalent necessity for travel and generally enjoying what held dear before Covid-19. In France, that is definitely the case. What isn't new is the difficulty in predicting where we go from here and how the travel industry will be affected this year. But... people have itchy feet to get going for trips of a lifetime. And they are ready to spend generously.
Borders – In a generally adopted green/orange/red light system, governments are regularly revisiting from which countries visitors are allowed. In 2020, many travelers felt the nasty bite of last-minute cancelations due to borders and venues closing. Two years later this will manifest in restriction-free destinations, more last-minute bookings, ranging from transportation, to accommodations, car hire and local reservations.
Flexibility is key – A flexible booking attitude is paramount in two directions. The average tourist will appreciate a 100% rebate on any bookings they have done in advance if Covid-19 rears its head and affects decisions from the top level of society, down. With the necessary reassurance by accommodations proprietors, airlines etc.
More travel budget
In 2022 it stands to reason that the staycations and moderate travel from previous years mean that the average household will have saved money with every intention to travel as soon as we understood more about the evolvement of the pandemic and the introduction of vaccines.
In lockdown, people spent quality time gazing through the window called social media with intense longing. The longer the various lockdowns lasted, the more we appreciated la liberté. Freedom. This has resulted in dreaming bigger than ever before.
The airlines are certainly on board with a reintroduction of long-haul flights e.g. Munich to San Diego, London to Austin, London to LA or Sydney etc.
A new railway experience has been launched from Lagos (Portugal) to Singapore, a journey of 21 days and almost 19,000km made possible by a recently installed rail line in Laos allowing uninterrupted connection for the first time ever. The experience includes stops and some overnight stays in major cities along the way.
The combination of a bigger travel budget and bigger dreams is resulting in:
- trips of longer duration
- trip-stacking (multiple destination vacations)
- dream destinations further away
- extreme expeditions
- all-inclusive luxury travel
- last minute splurging
- life changing experiences
- personal development
Having a bigger budget to travel translate to a number of things. From luxury accommodations to spoiling one-self a little more than usual, the manner in which we arrive at our dream destination. Even the old bucket list has been dusted off. Astronaut training, anyone?
Locally this might translate to luxury car hire with the family, driving a Lamborghini for a day, taking in spectacles and shows, side trips (by helicopter), dining at top Michelin restaurants and more.
People react in different ways to world-wide challenging situations but the inner wander-lust is real!
However, in addition to the pandemic, earth-friendliness is just as challenging a situation. How does this go hand-in-hand with big destinations far away? Let's look at the next travel trend!
Eco-conscious & regenerative travel
Ecotourism trends of the last couple of years have morphed into more complex eco-conscious and regenerative travel trends. If you have been keeping up with travel trends in recent years, these terms are now firmly ingrained in our conscience but in case you missed it, we'll explain the difference between the two, with examples for what it entails:
- Eco-consciousness has everything to do with reducing the affect of 'living' on the environment. We're doing better at home, and we want to extend our habits while traveling too.
- artisanal, environmentally friendly bath products, dish soaps, sponges, and laundry detergent
- reduce plastic consumption by using reusable bottles
- the use bamboo products e.g. toothbrushes and straws.
- reduced energy and water use
- buying in the community at walking or cycling distance
- sightseeing at a reduced carbon footprint e.g. cycling, electric car hire, or train
- Regenerative travel means a "renewal or restoration of an [in this case] ecosystem following events or injury that cause disturbance or damage" i.e. proactively giving something back to the planet to balance things out such as making a donation for research into renewable energy, or becoming involved in a sustainability project to help the environment at a travel destination.
- donations to green-travel eco research to offset their carbon footprint
- volunteer eco-projects such as planting trees or cleaning up beaches
Travel is bad for the environment, that much is sure. How does the long distance travel trend morph with eco-conscious travel? Well, it's is actually just that. Long distance flights in newer aircraft is more environmentally friendly than short hauls. The longer the distance, the cleaner we're flying. It's taking off and landing that is the most damaging to the planet. (read our article What it Means to be a Responsible Tourist)
And with traveling by train also on the rise, ... long haul train travel in old world luxury (think Orient Express) is also growing in popularity.
Which doesn't mean city-trips are out, quite the contrary. For those with a smaller budgets, train travel is ideal (if you can book far enough in advance).
New in France and Europe this year, people now have the wonderful possibility for travel by night trains from Paris to several European destinations **at mind-blowing rates**. Paris to Vienna or Salzburg for under 30 euros, anyone? More info and booking here.
Care and compassion
The travel industry has suffered a great deal in the last two years. Even when travel was allowed, it was difficult for hospitality small businesses in tourist driven areas to achieve a comfortable income.
During the pandemic we have learned to care for each other, to check in, to appreciate our neighbours and those working tirelessly for our wellbeing.
After a very difficult couple of seasons, tourists are more conscious of where and how they spend their budget.
They understand that what is travel spending for them, has a direct effect on the quality of life for another family.
There was already an increase in direct bookings in 2021, so much so that it has evolved in a trend of supporting the locals in the littlest possible way.
Online travel agents certainly have their use, and we absolutely acknowledge that they do, but the fees charged to accommodations owners to advertise on sites where they are swimming in a sea of selection, so to speak, were extra painful during the pandemic restrictions.
Travelers have become quite aware of this.
Case in point, yours truly was recently offered a 10% discount to book with a hotel owner and omit the OTAs. Their approach was very... direct. It is a way to take back control over the bottom line of their income. We certainly can't blame them!
Booking, shopping, dining etc. in the local community is very much on the mind of the traveler in 2022.
We love them for it!
Last minute &... space
Governments can change the rules with little notice as the pandemic further evolves, with the possibility of leaving people stranded.
Despite the desire to travel and to be away from it all, a degree of uncertainty and anxiety remains.
Respect, flexibility, and reassurance towards the guest is essential. Like last year, travel insurers benefit from the pandemic.
But so do the last-minute deals. Another way for the traveler to secure a holiday, it simply to lie in wait for opportunities they simply don't want to say no to.
With one eye on the news and a finger on the keyboard, they are open to going where the deals are rather than choosing a destination ahead of time, and they are willing to leave within 24 to 72 hours to travel.
Additionally, space travel is that awkward but continuing travel trend that the industry knows exists but most travelers can do little about. Or can they? Yes.
We struggled to find a spot for this trend and decided to drop it under opportunity.
Granted, rocketing into space is not for the faint of heart, not to mention *slightly* outside of even the padded travel budget.
The intrigue surrounding spaceflight can be met in other ways e.g. by booking unique experiences involving astronaut training and weightlessness. It's a thing!
Combining work & child education
The business world has awakened to the remote-work business model. Forced quarantine showed businesses that it is possible for employees to be as productive in meeting deadlines at home as in the office, not to mention the positive effect on environment and employee psyche.
It's true, that working from home requires discipline and routine. It creates stresses of its own like having to occupy the children. The people who want to get away from that aspect, will likely to be unplug completely.
But, there will still be plenty of the home-working crowd who choose to travel with family in tow. They need excellent WiFi and self-catering accommodations.
There is an additional concern that children are behind in school, or that they have been cooped in an apartment little possibility to play outside.
The ideal combination for the 'work-from-home-traveler' is to incorporate learning opportunities for the children. We're not talking about classrooms, but rather a fun and playful way to learn a language, play an instrument, or participate in nature walks or workshops where they can be creative, social, and active.
This allows parent(s) blocks of time to work, makes up for lost time in school, and lets the children focus their energy on something fun in an entirely different environment or culture than what they are used to, with quality family to boot!
The work-from-home-parent may choose to travel to places or areas where they can maintain a healthy work-travel balance and where children can benefit from playful education.
Putting the romance in reconnecting!
We're not sure there is a scientific explanation for what's putting people in a more amorous mood in 2022 versus previous years. Shouldn't romance always be trendy?
Perhaps the pandemic kept couples from seeing one another, perhaps more relationships were forged from the fires of dating apps...
Who knows? The need for romance is a direct result of the psychological effects of the pandemic. There is a strong need to make up for lost time.
On their next trip, travelers are looking forward to holiday flirtations, sizzling flings. They are looking forward to meeting new people.
Romantic trips are IN! Wedding proposals, anniversaries, destination weddings and vacations promising romance are being heavily featured on social media to seduce even the least romantic souls in the world.
Couples that haven't even met, couples looking to create new memories or rekindle after difficult lockdowns, and couples having postponed celebrating special milestones with extended families and friends are on the lookout for a destination, experiences, and amour they won't soon forget.
Which brings us to the next travel trend for 2022: celebration.
Milestones & large events
There will be those who continue to seek solitude or walk the path less traveled, perhaps en famille. Group travel which was a rising trend before the pandemic, will make a comeback. Family celebrations are an even bigger reason to travel than ever.
But having found new freedom in being vaccinated, we're ready to party. We are ready to celebrate life in different ways. Together.
This trend is not a change, it's every bit the nostalgia of getting back to life as it was "before".
Large festivals like Tomorrowland, Download Festival, Hellfest, and other enormous cultural events around Europe are more than enough reason to head for airports, highways and train terminals.
It's picking up where we left off, but with more understanding, more appreciation, more living in the moment, more partying... more celebration.
Travel is a vital part of our well-being. That is something people discovered the hard way during pandemic restrictions.
Whether we're navigating difficult life transitions like break-ups or the arduous path of grieving, or we just want to completely disconnect, to travel recharges our batteries like nothing else.
In an 180 degree opposite to the 'work-cationers' mentioned above, there are the travelers that choose to unplug completely.
Personal development retreats of all sorts have been sprouting like mushrooms in recent years, perhaps in an evolvement of entrepreneurial personal development courses staged by travel bloggers world-wide, and from the trend of well-being breaks we saw back in 2019 etc.
Investment in our own positive transformation is an important trend in 2022.
This will manifest in solo adventure or spiritual hiking trips, luxurious spa retreats, yoga retreats, spiritual pilgrimages, extreme expeditions in group to remote locations, physical work-outs... even hallucinogenic healing or mind-expanding group psilocybin retreats are among sought-after vacations.
A return to the experts
In recent years, we grew more independent from the traditional travel agent.
In the technology age people booked their own trips using OTAs and various websites.
Due to the pandemic and need for travel (or booking) confidence, and the desire for bigger distances to unfamiliar territory it seems they are returning to the experts for (specialized) booking.
Travel agents have a vast network of information at their fingertips, including best deals and assurances in case of the next travel restriction that might be coming along.
They know where to book helicopters rides and other unique experiences the traveler may not be familiar with or confident booking themselves.
Travel agents are familiar with up and coming markets in far away places such as Central-America, the Middle East. Australia and New Zealand. And, of course, the ever beloved Europe for those people who have always dreamed of visiting but never have.
Trends and statistics are very useful!
Clever hospitality business proprietors in the Vendée are moving towards a golden period because self-catering accommodations continue to be very much in demand,
The Vendée area has everything the average traveler will be looking for.
The rest can be met through business strategies.
Tourism has been growing steadily in the area. Tip 2022 – check the Travel Report 2021 issued by Vendée Tourisme to research the travellers who visit the area and what they like to do.
These reports as well as the newest travel trends are ammunition to forge niche marketing on social media.
By connecting the dots through updating your offer, strategic planning and targeted advertising, travel trends can translate to your business.
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