The state of travel in 2022 has been triumphant. With travel spending almost at or exceeding pre-pandemic levels, it's clear that we've been ready to take to the air once again. Although some travel companies were hesitant to open up bookings, many Americans have been quick to snatch up itineraries.
As we continue exploring travel trends in 2022, it's important to remember that the pandemic has profoundly affected the industry. For one, international travel is still far below pre-pandemic levels. But there's still hope; in a recent survey, 78% of Millennials say they feel comfortable traveling in 2022.
So, where are US travelers going, and what are they doing?
Multi-generational Reunions and Trips
One travel trend that has been on the rise since last year is multi-generational travel. With families looking to reconnect after a difficult year, many are planning trips with grandparents, cousins, and other relatives. Families are looking to throw extravagant reunions to celebrate their time together. Over 55% of respondents agreed they are more interested in multi-generational family trips than ever.
Family travel continues to be redefined, and while pre-pandemic family travel meant kid-friendly, this year's family travel involves everyone - grandparents too! These family reunions aren't just taking place near home, either. Travelers are taking their families on bucket list trips to Europe and Mexico, where the whole family can enjoy themselves. In a recent survey, 70% of parents agreed that in 2022 they planned to take their first international trip with their children since the pandemic. The travel industry has responded in kind by amping up educational tours and experiential visits to capitalize on this trend.
Cruises are a popular choice amongst multi-generational travelers. Cruises often offer something for everyone. With age-appropriate activities, kids' clubs, and adult-only areas, cruises have become popular for families looking to travel together. 56% of Millennials surveyed going on a cruise said they were most excited to spend time with their families.
The travel industry has been under fire for years about its environmental impact, but sustainability is becoming a hot topic this year. Travelers are interested in sustainable travel practices, and many travel companies are starting to focus on eco-friendly options. In fact, 72% of people responded to a recent survey stating that environmentally friendly or green travel is essential worldwide.
As we become more aware of our impact on the planet, travelers are looking for ways to offset their carbon footprint. This environmentally conscious travel trend is only expected to grow in the coming years. From eco-friendly accommodations to sustainable tour options, there are many ways to make your travel plans more sustainable.
Costa Rica is a prime example of a conservationist's dream vacation. Its white sandy beaches are the perfect stand-in for a Caribbean excursion. With over 25% of its land dedicated to conservation and 98% of its power coming from renewable sources, it's no wonder that Costa Rica is leading the world in environmental strides.
Many business travelers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint while on the road. Business travel is also starting to focus on sustainability, with more and more companies interested in eco-friendly travel options. From using video conferencing for meetings instead of flying to taking the train instead of the plane, business travelers have many sustainable travel options.
Solo Trips for Women
Travel has long been popular among men, but it has recently become more popular among women. Solo travel is one of the fastest-growing travel trends. A recent study found that 40% of American women have taken a solo trip in the last five years.
There are many reasons why women choose to travel solo. For many, it's a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with themselves. Solo travel is also an excellent opportunity for women to practice self-care and focus on their well-being.
With more and more women traveling solo, the travel industry has started to cater to this growing market. There are now more options than ever for female travelers, from all-female tour groups to women-only hotels.
Women are choosing to travel solo because they want to see the world and don't want to wait on others. They want to have new experiences and create memories that will last a lifetime. And they're not afraid to go after their dreams, even if it means traveling alone.
This year women are traveling solo all over the world. Some popular destinations for solo women travelers include Spain, the Maldives, and Greece. More and more women are looking to stay stateside for their trips, with women traveling to New York, National Parks, and even Las Vegas for some alone time.
Secondary City Travel
One travel trend we're seeing is called "secondary city travel." People choose to visit smaller cities instead of prominent tourist destinations. The reasoning behind this is that there are often fewer crowds, and the cost of travel is generally lower. In addition, it often puts less stress on the larger, primary city. The notion of smaller travel experiences has been growing in popularity among Millenials and Gen Z, who are increasingly concerned with environmental sustainability. Dana Communications puts out another reason - pandemic safety. As we slowly return to pre-pandemic life, travelers are still looking to steer clear of crowded, busy destinations.
What is a secondary city? Cities Alliance defines a secondary city as ranging in size from between 150,000 and five million. This term is used instead of a "megacity," which has over five million residents. According to a recent World Urbanization Prospects report, only about 7% of the world's population lives in a megacity with over 5 million inhabitants. Traveling to a secondary city often affords a more personal and authentic travel experience. For example, people are traveling to Guayaquil, Ecuador, rather than Quito. This is partly due to the fact that Guayaquil is less crowded and more affordable than Quito.
Experiential travel is a type of tourism in which people travel to experience a place or activity for themselves. This trend is driven by millennials, who are more interested in experiences than material possessions. Experiential travel can include anything from cooking classes and wine tastings to skydiving and rock climbing.
Travelers are looking for authentic experiences that cannot be found at home. 70% of respondents in a recent survey by American Express said they are interested in cultural immersion. This includes learning about a destination's history, art, and food.
These travelers are booking trips to smaller cities, often secondary cities, to fully experience local culture. They may travel to Italy and do a homestay in a vineyard, working the fields or tending to the crops like a local. Or go to Mexico and stay in a hacienda rather than a resort, taking walking tours of their towns and eating at locally sourced and owned restaurants. Wherever the destination, the goal is to have an immersive experience in the local culture.
This focus on experiences over things also drives the growth of solo travel. More and more people are comfortable traveling alone and taking advantage of opportunities to meet new people. This is especially true of millennials, who comprise the largest solo travelers demographic.
The rise in popularity of wellness tours is another trend that is here to stay. People are increasingly interested in taking trips focusing on physical and mental health, and many travel companies offer itineraries with activities like yoga, meditation, and hiking. This is a change from leisure travel in which guests want to spend time in the city or go on historical tours. Wellness travelers want to be pampered or challenged. They're looking to spend time bettering themselves through travel that allows them to unwind and focus on inward growth.
This trend has been growing in recent years, but it took off in 2020 as people looked for ways to cope with the stress of the pandemic. According to a report from Booking.com, 43% of respondents said that self-care was their top priority when planning travel for 2022. And wellness vacations are not just for millennials – travelers of all ages are interested in these types of trips.
The growing trend of domestic travel is impacting how we get to our destinations. Road trips have always been popular but have gained traction since the pandemic. Grabbing a rental car and cruising to a new destination has never been more fun. Summer travel is the perfect time for a road trip.
80% of travelers, in a recent study, said that they were going to take a road trip, which makes up over 206 million Americans. Nearly 20 percent of them, or 47 million Americans, will travel more than 500 miles from home by car. People are packing the car and kids and heading to National Parks, Las Vegas, New York, and Boston. The rise of historical and educational trips can easily be tied to the popularity of road trips as well.
So, what does this mean for the travel industry? With the growing trends of solo trips and sustainable travel, many companies will be challenged to find new ways of connecting with potential clients.
The pandemic has forced people to change their travel plans but has also created new opportunities for travel companies. For example, the number of American bookings to Europe has increased in the past year.
Overall, it seems that people are still traveling – they are just changing their destinations and modes of transportation. As long as travel companies can adapt to these changes, they can maintain their pre-pandemic levels of success.
What do you think the future of travel looks like? Let us know in the comments below!