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Forecasting travel trends is an annual tradition for us here at TravelAwaits, but as we all know, 2020 travel didn’t go as predicted. In 2021, we didn’t even bother gazing into our crystal ball. As travel starts to open back up in 2022, though, we reached back out to tour operators to find out where they are planning on going this year.
Not only did they share their upcoming adventures, but they also let us in on the travel trends that are emerging for this year. Global guided vacation company Trafalgar, for instance, reports that summer 2022 is going to be a big one, as travelers are already filling their vacation calendars predominantly in May/June 2022.
Meanwhile, Intrepid Travel has seen a 144 percent increase in customers booking domestic trips in the U.S. and the UK vs. 2019, prior to the pandemic. The company expects domestic travel will be popular in all regions in 2022, as different COVID variants continue to cause uncertainty with international travel, as we’ve seen most recently with the Omicron variant causing swift border closures and new travel restrictions. While flexibility with travel plans will be key, Intrepid asserts that travelers will continue to opt for more adventures within their home borders to avoid these headaches. Time will tell!
From far-flung locales to domestic destinations, here’s where tour operators plan to travel in 2022.
“I’m headed to Bali as soon as I can,” says Steve Lima, the Marketing Director for G Adventures. “We all could use a little wellness in 2022, and Bali is a great place to recharge, relax, and also get active. My plan is to hit the beaches first, then travel north to some of the less touristy parts of the island. Perhaps hike up to Mount Batur, and of course cycle through the incredibly calming and linear rice paddies in Ubud. Bali is exercise for the body and mind, and hopefully will leave me recharged and ready for whatever 2022 throws my way!”
Tom Armstrong from tour company Tauck says 2022 offers a fantastic opportunity for the slightly more intrepid traveler to experience the wonders of Europe before the crowds return en masse.
According to our recent State of Travel survey, Italy was the number one international destination that our readers want to visit in 2022. Trafalgar’s top 15 trips for 2022 thus far are all European itineraries, with the 13-day Best of Italy tour taking the number 1 spot. Armstrong says Italy is one of Tauck’s most popular destinations in Europe, and this year presents a wonderful chance to explore it.
For an in-depth Italian experience, spend two weeks touring Naples, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Umbria, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Venice on Tauck’s Classic Italy tour. If you don’t have two whole weeks to spend in Italy, try A Week In… Venice, Florence & Rome, a shorter tour that explores three iconic Italian cities. Both tours feature exclusive experiences, including an after-hours guided visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel sans crowds.
Armstrong tells us “this will be a great year to visit Spain and Portugal — two of Europe’s rising stars!” Spend a week in Spain, a week in Portugal, or explore them both on Tauk’s Spain and Portugal tour.
“My wife and I did a Tauck river cruise on the Rhine a few years ago, and it was without a doubt one of the very best vacations we’d ever experienced,” says Armstrong. “We’re still in the discussion phase, but we’re really hoping to do a river cruise on either the Danube or the Douro this year. Both rivers offer incredible culture and amazing scenery. However, Tauck just launched our brand-new MS Andorinha riverboat on the Douro last August, so that may tip the scales a bit toward Portugal! Either way, we’re huge fans of river cruising, and we know we’re in for a wonderful trip.”
Armstrong suggests the Northern Spain, The Rioja Valley, and Madrid tour. This popular itinerary spends two weeks traveling from Barcelona across northern Spain, exploring Montserrat, Cardona, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Leon, Santiago de Compostela, and more before concluding in Madrid.
According to Trafalgar, travelers are using their vacation days to book trips that are longer than a standard week-long getaway to really immerse themselves in the destinations. At 15 days and 10 days respectively, Best of Ireland & Scotland and Britain & Ireland Highlights are two of the company’s top-booked tours.
“My first trip this year will be to Ireland to celebrate a milestone birthday with my two childhood best friends who are also celebrating the same big birthday this year,” Trafalgar’s president, Melissa DaSilva, divulges. “We’ll be visiting Dublin, Galway, and beautiful Ashford Castle. I can’t wait to travel again, but especially to share it with my friends who I have not seen since the pandemic started, as our last two trips have been canceled due to lockdowns and restrictions,” she says.
“This year my goal is to soak up the beauty of this world with wildlife and nature,” Heidi Durflinger, president of EF Go Ahead Tours, tells us. “I’d like to return to Kenya. The connection to nature is surreal, and you’ll leave feeling renewed and refreshed.”
For some inspiration, refer to Sarah Kingdom’s Ultimate Guide To Planning Your First African Safari.
“There’s a great energy emerging … a resolve to make the leap, chase your passions, and take action on your ‘someday’ plans,” says Steve Born, CMO of the Globus family of brands. “And taking that dream trip to the place you always wanted to visit captures that spirit and has inspired me. Next month, I am heading to Jordan on a Jordan Escape trip along with my fellow Globus guests, hosting an amazing group of social media influencers to share the experience and spread the word about this spirit and this amazing destination.”
The week-long guided tour of Jordan begins in one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, the capital city of Amman, and ends at the Dead Sea, one of the lowest spots on Earth. Highlights include exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra (one of the New 7 Wonders of the World), sipping tea in a real Bedouin tent, and driving across Wadi Rum‘s incredible desert landscape.
Within the past year and a half, Intrepid Travel has added nearly 200 new tours around the world built specifically with domestic audiences in mind. This goes along with another of Intrepid Travel 2022’s goals: reducing the carbon output of its trips. For example, this year, the carbon-neutral tour operator is expected to remove more than 3,000 individual flights from its itineraries where there is a better land-based alternative.
Kicking off in June of this year, Intrepid Travel’s six-day Portland to San Francisco Discovery journey encompasses several of the 2022 travel trends it has identified. This foodie-friendly tour runs between two cities that boast outstanding culinary scenes. Share a river-to-table meal with the First Nations people of Warm Springs. The picnic lunch experience serves up Indigenous culture preservation, acknowledging the role salmon played in tribal history and answering the trend of businesses embedding purpose within their offerings. According to Intrepid, the majority of its top-selling trips contain “purpose-led” experiences like this — activities that directly support environmental or wildlife conservation, preserve minority indigenous culture, or support marginalized social groups.
Other highlights of Intrepid’s Pacific Northwest tour include the tactile treat of shucking oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co., a visit to Crater Lake National Park to see the deepest lake in the U.S., and a stop at Muir Woods National Monument to hang out with the tallest living things in the world. The latter two experiences are in line with another 2022 travel trend according to the company — the great outdoors.
Did we miss one of your favorite destinations? Nominate it below!
“With COVID as our new reality,” Intrepid shared, “many travelers are opting for trips that allow them to soak in fresh air away from the crowds, while also staying active and on their feet — a far cry from their homes and computer screens that have become the norm as careers and home life blur in this new world dominated by remote work.”
Feeling inspired? Reach out to our travel advisors Carie Skerritt and Bill Sharo of Dream Vacations to talk about where 2022 could take you!
Laura Ray has lived in Atlanta, the Bay Area, SoCal, and Austin. After moving from Texas, she and her husband rambled about the Midwest in a camper for a couple of years before finally settling on 35 acres in their home state of Kentucky. When she isn’t clacking around on the keyboard (cat in lap), you can find her practicing yoga, gardening, or playing the ukulele. In addition to writing for Quillt sites such as SeniorsMatter.com and Oola.com, she’s also written for Zumper.com and served as Oola’s editor before becoming a Content Strategist for TravelAwaits. This travel-lover’s favorite destinations include Italy, the Greek isles, and Kentucky Lake.