Is it just me… or do our NY resolutions count for a lot more when a holiday is involved? With a new year, comes new travel trends and insights. Fresh ideas on how to make the most of your annual leave. And post-pandemic, more of us are looking for ways to travel that are set in stone.
It’s true that COVID-19 restrictions present new challenges for the travel industry (and anyone booking a trip online). Meanwhile there’s a lot of pent-up excitement, an urge to travel from young people across the world, understandably restless after long periods of lockdown. Luckily many travel operators are offering flexible booking on trips, so globetrotters can take that long awaited vacation without a hitch.
We spoke to travel experts including trip operations specialist, Natasha Lawence, and our very own CEO, Adam Armstrong, who revealed 11 hot travel trends for 2022 and beyond. Which have you noticed in your own local community?
1. Active holidays & outdoor experiences
Destinations that offer national parks and ‘outdoorsy’ experiences are booming, says Natasha Lawrence, tour operator extraordinaire at Contiki. ‘We were seeing this pre-pandemic, but Covid seems to have sped things up. And there’s more demand for domestic travel.’
‘In fact, we have noticed this trend so much that it led us to develop a new range of active trips – Active Scandinavia, Active Scotland and Ireland, Hiking in the Scottish Highlands and more to come.’
According to Natasha, the world is going loco for local travel i.e exploring the wonderful nooks and crannies of your own country. National park trips are a hit in the USA. Brits are flocking to book yoga and surf breaks in Devon. There’s a distinct increase of interest for Queensland trips in Australia. And some of Contiki’s best sellers are Iceland and Scandinavia, up from last year by +72% and +15% each.
It’s no wonder we’re seeing more travellers opt for an active holiday. After we’ve been cooped up in lockdowns, maybe the urge to travel is as tempting as it’s ever been! Cycle trips down sunny Spanish streets or skiing in the Austrian Alps, there are loads of unique travel experiences out there to scratch that itch.
2. Social travel (like group tours, but way better...)
When a major world event happens in your lifetime, it changes your perspectives, so they say. After experiencing the isolation and boredom of lockdown, Gen Z and millennials are expected to set an exciting new trend this year: social travel.
But what is it? If you’re imagining a coach full of young people, excited about exploring a new place and making friends – you’re not far off. But add in the possibility for Nile cruises and yoga retreats in Morocco. Tree top adventures and rainforest lodges. Ski trips with all tickets and accommodation sorted in advance, so travellers can spend more time on excursions with pals, going to events, trying new things, and generally having a jolly good time.
So, maybe social travel isn’t a destination, but an experience…? Check out this video to see what I mean:
3. Trip stacking
If trip stacking doesn’t currently exist in your vocabulary yet, don’t beat yourself up about it. This travel industry trend is super fresh, born out of the pandemic when flight cancellations were happening at pace. Trip stacking helps you ensure your holiday plans don’t fall through because of travel restrictions.
You can book a number of trips that offer free refunds or flexible booking. Even if you’ve only got your heart set on one vacation this year, trip stacking allows you to secure your space, whether it be flights or a package holiday, while insulating yourself from the risk of cancellations. Contiki CEO Adam Armstrong said in a recent interview that trip stacking is one of the biggest trends he’s noticed, with Gen Z and younger millennials likely to book multiple trips back-to-back.
‘Some (are) exploring for months on end, taking advantage of the freedom that comes with being in-between jobs. Or seizing the gap year in-between college and career.’
Early 2022 booking data from Contiki is proof in the pudding. Trips to Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Costa Rica are being booked back-to-back by 18-35 year olds – and numbers are 375% up from last year. According to Armstrong, it’s a positive sign, meaning more young people ‘are ready to stretch their travel wings again.’
Workcation: the art of taking your laptop to a dreamy destination and earning while you’re away. With more and more companies advertising remote job roles, has it ever been easier to travel the world while holding down a 9 to 5?
This type of employment simply wasn’t available to most young people before the pandemic. Travelling was restricted to your approved vacation days at work, public holidays, and gap years. But since much of the world’s workforce got used to conducting business from their bedroom desk, working remotely from a beach or ski chalet doesn’t seem so unusual.
Could workcations be the solution to burnout? 2 in 3 ‘workcationers’ reported they felt an increase in productivity when mixing business and leisure, according to a recent survey. Maybe now is the time for freelancers, writers, creatives and young professionals to have their cake – and eat it too.
5. Wellness breaks
For the stressed, the tired, the downtrodden… and the geezers who just want a spa break with no fuss. What better way to wash the world right out of your hair than a wellness break?
The term means different things to different people. White water rafting might be the perfect stress-buster for an adrenaline junkie, but those looking for relaxation and bliss might look to Ayurvedic retreats in Sri Lanka for that.
No matter what type of traveller you are, the consensus remains: wellness experiences should leave you feeling well. Maybe that’s why 375% more travellers booked Viva Costa Rica this year … it does feature waterfall hikes and tree planting in the rainforest, after all. You won’t just feel well after all that. You’ll be beaming!
6. Island hopping
Maybe it’s the excitement of cruising around on a speedboat. Maybe it’s the sea views, the scuba, the wildlife. But one thing is clear from Contiki’s recent bookings: island holidays are on the up!
Island Hopping in Greece was the most popular trip of last year and isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Our data also shows 70% of young travellers are looking for ‘beach scapes over mountain scapes’. Wonder if they know there are mountains on the beach in Makarska, Croatia? In other words, just one included destination on this Croatia Island Sail trip.
7. Sustainable travel
In the 60’s, you might have got good rep for hitting the road in your VW or I don’t know, crowd surfing at a festival? That’s all well and good, but in 2022, it’s cool to care about the environmental impact of your travels – and it was before, too. According to Lawrence, more travellers are factoring in sustainability with their travel plans, with carbon neutral trips on the rise.
Of course, since Contiki went carbon neutral this year, that number might be a bit skewed because, technically… that includes all of our trips. Not to brag or anything…
Lawrence adds that more travel brands could follow suit in the years to come. ‘Addressing global concerns around the impact of travel on climate change is a collective responsibility which most travel businesses take very seriously,’ she told me.
‘We all want to find a way to ensure that our businesses have sustainable futures and that people can travel the world for years to come. We might be one of the earlier businesses to go fully carbon neutral but we welcome other brands following suit so that together we can minimise our impact on the planet.’
8. Slow travel & meaningful experiences
‘ Err… so, what’s this slow travel business?’ I can hear you ask. And no, slow travel isn’t walking really carefully down a beach of sharp stones. But it could include it!
To properly understand slow travel, think first of the opposite. Rushing from place to place, not stopping to talk to anyone, ignoring the local cuisine, and getting an ulcer from all the stress. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?
Slow travel is taking the time to appreciate the places you visit, and usually, staying longer in one destination because of it. Of course, jumping from city to city has it’s perks. But once you’ve watched sea turtles hatch in Tortuguero, you realise you’re feeling that thing, you know… what was it called?
Ah, bliss. That was it. You can find all sorts unusual travel experiences that provide just the thing, on Contiki’s new Detour trips.
9. Revenge travel
Nope, this isn’t when you swap your sibling’s flight to the North Pole because they ate your last Spaghetti-O. Revenge travel is another travel trend that came out of the pandemic. With all those long months spent at home, loads of travellers were posting on social media. Before long, it became a travel trend literally born out of that feeling of smugness after finally taking that holiday you’ve been waiting for all pandemic!
In 2022, the year many are predicting COVID-19 travel restrictions to pair down across the world, I’m sure we’ll continue associating holidays with a (silly) totally rational feeling of ‘revenge’ on the lockdowns of yesterday.
10. Solo trips
Last but not least, solo trips continue to grow in popularity, one of the travel trends we often associate with Reece Witherspoon’s hit film, Wild (2014).
But it’s also a trend reflected in Contiki bookings for this year, with 49% of trips booked individually. That means almost half of customers were likely planning to travel solo (and join an epic group of like-minded travellers for the trip!)
Going travelling can be daunting in a new country, so perhaps it’s the ease of mind you get with Contiki that makes solo travel such a catch. There’s accommodation, food, event tickets and an epic group of travellers to meet. All you need to do is turn up. Check out Contiki trips today and book your next adventure!