When the world shut down in March of 2020, I don’t think many of us predicted that we’d still be dealing with pandemic related travel concerns and restrictions in 2022. The travel industry was able to rebound in 2021, but we’re heading into yet another year with the cloud of Coronavirus hanging over us. The pandemic significantly altered the landscape of travel in 2021 and many of those travel trends are expected to continue into the new year. There are also a few new trends that industry experts are already seeing heading into January. Let’s take a look at some of the predicted travel trends for 2022!
Travel Trends for 2022:
The most unique travel trend being seen as we head into 2022 is that people are taking longer vacations. Instead of short weekend getaways or even a one week vacation, people are booking much longer trips. Two week trips are becoming the norm, with people booking trips that last up to a month and sometimes even longer. A major reason for this change? many people still have a lot of flexibility with their jobs and are able to work remotely. This means they can spend an entire month or more in a different location, even if they only have a week or two worth of actual vacation time. And while many struggled financially during the pandemic, travelers in general saved a lot of money while being grounded for so long. Many travelers have money to spend as they return to their hobby of seeing the country and the world- thus they’re in a better position to book longer trips. Another reason contributing to this trend of longer travel is that if people have to jump through hoops to get to a destination, they’re wanting to make it worth their time and energy. With vaccination, testing and quarantine requirements still on the table in many places- people want to enjoy their destination once they finally get there, so they’re choosing to stay for two weeks or more.
Another major travel trend that travel industry experts and travel agents are seeing as we move into 2022 is more multi-generational trips. Many extended families have been separated for much of the pandemic and they are ready to make up for lost time. Travel Pulse reported that top travel agencies such as Outside Agents and Jet Set World Travel are seeing a huge rise in multi-generational bookings. Families want to travel together more than ever before and they want to spend that time in beautiful places where they can make special memories together. Travel agents are also reporting that this trend towards multi-generational travel is combining with the trend of longer travel periods. Families are booking vacations for two weeks at a time, sometimes even four to six weeks at a time. These are longer, more intentional trips with the goal of spending a great deal of quality time together. If this 2022 travel trend interests you, be sure to check out our Wandering Moms post on 11 Top Tips for Planning a Multi-Generational Family Trip.
At the very end of 2021, Forbes reported on a massive rebound in the wellness travel industry. This industry, which focuses on travel aimed to maintain, manage or improve overall health and well-being, includes things like wellness retreats, yoga and meditation retreats, spa retreats, and spiritual retreats. Wellness travelers tend to spend more on their wellness travel than average travelers spend per trip- and with our social and emotional well being taking such a hit during the pandemic, it’s no wonder that this niche of the travel industry is rebounding so well. This trend is expected to continue picking up steam in 2022, especially as this travel trend overlaps with two other major 2022 travel trends. First, there are many wellness retreats right here in the US and 2022 is expected to see a continued rise in domestic travel. Next, many wellness retreats can focus the core of their activities outside, and nature based travel is another trend expected to continue well into 2022.
Continued Increase in Vacation Rentals
2021 saw an increase in the use of vacation rentals versus hotels and experts predict this trend will continue in 2022. There are a couple of major reasons for this. Hotels utilize a lot of shared spaces as well as shared ventilation systems. With many travelers still weary of Covid heading into 2022, vacation rentals offer more personal and private space that isn’t shared with hundreds of other travelers. Many are still weary of indoor dining as well, and when staying in hotels without access to a kitchen, many travelers rely on eating out. Vacation rentals can reduce reliance on restaurants and indoor dining while traveling. Lastly, 2021 saw a big increase in travel to more natural areas and more remote areas. These are areas that may not have numerous hotel options but instead may have more vacation rental options via sites like AirBnB or VRBO. Being that both Covid safety and a focus on more outdoor based travel locations are expected to be popular travel trends in 2022, experts predict an even bigger shift from hotels to rental homes in 2022. This trend also overlaps with the increase in multi-generational travel as booking a large vacation home where everyone in the family can stay together is often more affordable, and far more convenient, than booking multiple hotel rooms.
Continued Domestic Travel
As we’ve already mentioned in relation to other travel trends expected to continue in 2022, domestic travel is expected to continue rising in popularity. Experts say that while interest in international travel is definitely increasing, they are still seeing a lot of travelers who are weary of traveling overseas. The biggest concerns with international travel right now are vaccination mandates, ever-changing testing protocols, and fear of having to quarantine in another country or other difficulties with returning home. For these reasons, travel industry experts expect domestic travel to continue increasing in popularity. The good news is that there are tens of thousands of places to explore right here in the US!
Continued Nature-Based Travel
Nature based US travel is expected to continue to be in high demand. 2021 saw more Americans visiting National Parks than usual, and RV sales and rentals were also much higher than usual. AirBnB rentals in more remote locations increased as well. Many people feel safest outside- and that trend is expected to continue into 2022. Some of the most popular National Parks expect to continue the use of timed entry tickets this year due to high volumes of traffic, and many campgrounds across the country are already booked solid for the summer months. It can be a bit frustrating for people who enjoyed camping and nature based travel before the pandemic as many of these locations are seeing a surge in crowds that they simply aren’t prepared to handle- but even with the increased crowds, outdoor travel still offers an extra layer of safety that many people want or need. If you’re looking to camp, RV, or visit popular state or National Parks- be sure to plan ahead so you don’t get shut out.
Devaluation of Airline Miles
During the pandemic, airlines used the sale of miles and loyalty points to hold themselves up. The Points Guy discusses how the intricacies of how and why this happened in the article Travel is Back, Now, Points and Miles Devaluations are (Likely) Coming. When airlines were struggling most, many travelers bought points and miles at discounted rates. Credit card sign up bonuses are another place where people accrued large amounts of points and miles, as well as the accrual of points on travel credit cards for everyday spending over the course of the pandemic. This means people are now sitting on a LOT of points and miles. Unfortunately, this abundance likely means points and miles will be devalued in the coming year as the travel industry continues its attempt it’s rebound. Many travel experts suggest that if you have points or miles, use them sooner rather than later in case any major changes in points value happen as 2022 progresses.