The types of travel that will dominate 2022

Sadly, we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what’s coming next for the world of travel, and ongoing uncertainty is still making it tricky to get a firm grasp on the future. But using our own insights, and those of other industry experts, we’ve noticed some clear contenders emerging for the most popular types of travel for 2022.

Here are 9 types of travel that we think are going to be big (or even bigger) in 2022.

1 Larger group sizes

After spending the best part of two years limiting the number of people we interact with, many travellers want nothing more than to be around all of the people they love. Pre-pandemic, the idea of holing up with your extended family for two whole weeks might’ve sounded like hell. Now, it’s just the thing a lot of people are looking for.

2 Friend-cations

It’s not just family bonds that have been affected by the pandemic. For extended periods throughout the last two years, friendships have been nurtured by virtual means alone. But with many travellers now vaccinated and able to get travelling again, growing numbers look set to choose a getaway with their friendship group.

Whether they opt for a boozy beach break, a hedonistic trip to the slopes or a cottage retreat for the whole gang, we can expect to see travellers moving in packs this year.

3 Going all-out for occasions

Lots of occasions have come with a whimper, from birthdays to anniversaries to retirements, over the last two years. In 2022, travel will help people get back to celebrating with a bang. 78% of Americans surveyed by Ipsos said they’re considering a trip to mark a ‘life moment’ – like a birthday, anniversary or proposal – in the next two years.

Amy Hope, CEO of Artisan Travel company, explained to The Times:

“There is this huge pent-up demand for people wanting to make up for lost time. [Occasions] may have been marked with a short city break or a few nights in a hotel in the UK, [but] they are now thinking much bigger and wanting to make some special memories together.”

4 Ticking off the bucket list

After realising how suddenly life can be put on hold, travellers will bite the bullet and finally go for those bucket list trips they’ve always dreamt of. Amadeus reports that bookings to more exotic locations, like safari-central Tanzania, cities near Peru’s Machu Picchu and Jordan’s red city Petra, have risen considerably.

But the trip of a lifetime looks a little different for lots of today’s travellers. Rather than craving all-out luxe, lots of holidaymakers’ priorities have shifted, pushing planet-conscious aspects right to the top of their list.

5 Staying grounded

More tourists are looking into different, and potentially more sustainable ways to see the world. Trains are emerging as a popular alternative to air travel for climate-conscious travellers. And it’s easy to see why; travelling by plane from Bristol to Newcastle produces 203kg of C02 emissions per person, while a rail journey between the same places creates just 33kg per person.

A survey by luxury brand Audley Travel found that 81% of respondents would consider making their next trip a rail-based one. Original Travel also discovered that 32% of its customers would like to ditch the plane and hop on the train for their next getaway. Even though the figures vary significantly, one thing is clear: rising numbers of travellers want to see the world from a fresh perspective.

6 Travel with a conscience

It’s not just the planet that the traveller of 2022 will want to help. A rise in so-called ‘philantourism’, in which tourists spend time helping the people and places they’re visiting, shows that many want to help less fortunate communities too. The scope of these breaks is vast, ranging from spending two weeks immersing yourself in local culture and supporting local families and businesses, to journeying somewhere to rebuild a school or community asset.

7 Digital detoxes

Even if you’ve avoided digital burnout and zoom fatigue, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that growing numbers of consumers want to step away from their screens for a while. Breaks that promise to peel you away from the perpetual scroll, from yoga retreats to countryside boltholes, are the antidote to two years of living online. Expect to see more and more people seeking a temporary escape from hyperconnectivity in 2022.

8 Fewer trips, higher spends

At first glance, the idea that people will travel less seems concerning for travel companies. The reality is that this change in habits is unlikely to translate to lower income. Those who have retained their jobs and cut out the expense of commutes, occasions and the shorter/cheaper breaks they would’ve shelled out for now have more money in their pockets. As a result, they may fancy opting for a five-star getaway to an exotic locale, rather than settling for a week in Spain as usual.

9 Inclusive travel for all

Travellers want to know that they’ll receive a warm welcome in their chosen destination. For minoritised travellers, such as POC and LGBTQ+ individuals, picking a safe, enjoyable destination isn’t as simple as checking TripAdvisor. There are other concerns more pressing than hospitable hotel staff, such as whether there are local laws against same-sex couples and if the locals are accepting of all cultures and races.

To allow all travellers to enjoy the serene, safe break they deserve, the travel industry is likely to be more vocal in catering to a diverse audience. There are lots of ways to do this, such as compiling guides on the best destinations for same-sex couples, or advising travellers of certain faiths (for example) where they might like to avoid.