For the travel-obsessed citizens of the world, the new year means all-new adventures. While 2021 served up a platter of incredible travel experiences, we’re looking forward to what 2022 has in store for our bucket lists. Unfortunately, with the threat of new COVID variants, we may need to postpone or virtually experience some of these once-in-a-lifetime trips… for now. (If you do decide to travel, it’s essential to consider vaccination rates, safety protocols, and travel restrictions in your home city and at your destination.)
With all of this in mind — and it is a lot to juggle — we asked 19 prominent travel influencers and writers for their 2022 travel trend predictions. From a rise in solo trips and spontaneous adventures to long-term living abroad and transportation by train, the travel trends shouted out below might surprise you. More importantly, they may just inspire you to plan (however far out in the future) your next trip!
NICOLETTA DARITA DE LA BROWN (@vida.magica.love) — MICRO TRIPS & WELLNESS
I just got back from a trip to The Bahamas. It was a quick trip. It was all sea, except I had to fly to Florida to get on a cruise. And for me, what I think is going to be coming up are these micro trips or micro vacations where everything is smaller. The number of places I was going, the amount of time I was going there, and what I was doing — it was really deliberate, really thoughtful, and curated. It was very intentional. I wanted to be as close to local life and culture as I could be. I wanted to be ethical. I wanted to leave places better than I found them. And I also wanted to make sure that I was leaving better than I arrived, from a health standpoint.
I think that travel is going be about wellness and wellbeing in 2022. I also think it’s going to be about being deeply connected to where you are in a way that is both ethical and really thoughtful, kind, and deliberate. I spent my entire trip on catamarans, in glass-bottom boats with local Bahamians telling me about the local plants and connecting me to the water. That, for me, was amazing. I was basically making deep connections with people that I would’ve never met before — since it was such a small group of people. Since I wasn’t in a big gathering space and just basically on this catamaran with the captain and his crew and a few other people, I could really listen and pay attention to learn.
I also spent a lot of time meditating on the beach and dancing on the sand and being in bikinis from the day I got there ’til the moment I had to put on my clothes to get back on and head home. I was just thinking about how I could squeeze out as much time with nature and with people who are from where I’m visiting, listening to their stories and learning. So I think for me, the prediction for 2022 is going be travel that’s focused on healing, health, wellbeing, both mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health, and also micro trips in every sense of the word.
JEREMY FOSTER (@travelfreak) — CAR CAMPING
I expect to see a lot more car camping in 2022! Gaining popularity during the beginning of the pandemic, people started getting outside—in droves—by any means necessary. For those who wanted to get outdoors but didn’t want to throw themselves into a full-on camping situation where they’re essentially sleeping outside, car camping provided a safe and cost-effective solution.
As long as you have a hatchback, SUV, or crossover vehicle, you just throw down your back seats, lay out a sleeping pad or air mattress, and let the adventure begin.
With swirling uncertainty in the air as we enter the New Year, I think everybody’s going to need to figure out what they’re comfortable with in terms of travel. Some will be happy to hop a plane, others may want to wait. No matter what, though, the National Parks have seen huge increases in visitors, which is a clear indicator that Americans are doing more domestic travel than ever.
And I guarantee car camping is going to continue to be an integral part of that!
MELANIE FULLER (@traveling.auntie) — SEYCHELLES & BELIZE
The destination at the TOP of my 2022 travel bucket list is for sure, Seychelles. It’s a beautiful, archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. It’s quickly gaining popularity, yet isn’t over-saturated and many travelers have yet to visit the island.
It boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (that are free of charge to visit), lots of different adventures to choose from, and is full of culture. Travel is predicted to be up 300% in 2022, so it sounds like we’ll ALL be busy traveling (and quite frankly making up for missed travels due to the pandemic). I predict that the Seychelles will see a nice chunk of the spike.
Another place that I think will be trending in 2022 is Belize. So many people have reached out to me to inquire about Belize and I’ve also noticed that many new hotels are being built there, which are solid indicators that Belize is going to pull at travel heartstrings tough next year!
Belize is known for having the second largest barrier reef, hence it’s an amazing destination for scuba diving adventures. It’s also home to a slew of Mayan Ruins for travelers who enjoy educational travels. If just relaxing at a beautiful beach is more your vibe, it’s absolutely great for that too! There’s literally something for everyone. Hello, perfection.
CHLOE CALDWELL (@chloeicaldwell) — A GENERAL SENSE OF SPONTANEITY
I’ve always said that the most spontaneous of adventures make for the best memories. I think now more than ever, people are more willing to pack up their bags and head out the door with little notice or planning. With the ongoing option to work remotely for many of us into the new year, it’s easier to leave at the spur of the moment when last-minute travel opportunities present themselves. For me personally, I’ve recently been on several spontaneous trips, which have turned out to be some of my favorite excursions. I see myself and others saying yes to more spontaneous adventures as they come up this year (so long as travel restrictions and safety protocols allow it).
It might sound stressful to hop on a plane or in the car for a trip without planning ahead. But, honestly, I find it to make the experience all the more exciting and unique. You’re able to curate your itinerary as you go and gain authentic memories you may not have made if the whole trip was pre-planned. Every time I go on a last-minute trip, I find myself more willing to talk to locals for inside tips on where to eat, drink, and explore. It’s a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Embracing spontaneity while traveling also takes the pressure off of creating a “perfect” vacation. Rather than forcing a plethora of activities and excursions into one day, you’re able to take one step at a time. It’s always so fun being surprised by the people, places, and meals I end up experiencing on these unexpected trips.
DANE RIVERA (@littlepapercone) — LOCAL SOLO TRAVEL
This may seem a little obvious, and maybe it should have been the move all throughout this nightmare of a pandemic, but as we head into 2022 it’s looking more and more like local solo travel is the way to go. Our day-to-day explorations come with more responsibility than ever as we learn to live in the midst of a pandemic, protecting ourselves and the people around us. So instead of gathering up all your friends and hitting a strange town for a weekend, hop in the car, queue up your favorite tunes, and hit the road solo.
Solo travel might sound lonely at first, but once you’re on your own you’ll see that there is nothing better than living by your own schedule. Plus you never have to compromise on where to eat again, and that’s always a good thing.
JOE SILLS (@joesills) — LONG-FORM VACATIONS
Today, we are worried about Omicron. Before that, it was Delta. It seems likely that 2022 will see the rise of new virus variants that will continue to present new challenges to travelers.
Already, we are seeing airline partnerships with privatized healthcare turning into a de-facto travel tax for people who want to go abroad. This isn’t to say travelers shouldn’t be tested. In my opinion, that’s an important step in wrestling this pandemic. However, the result is that travel has become more expensive and more difficult in a time where many people are already struggling to make ends meet.
With increased travel costs and restrictions, I expect more travelers to look at long-form vacations. A family or couple might choose to spend most of their visit in a single country rather than hopping around a region. That could push travelers to more rural areas of a country and move tourism dollars away from tried-and-true cities into towns with lesser-known attractions and fewer resources for foreigners.
Fortunately, those are exactly the kind of places that often hold memorable experiences for people adventurous enough to go off the beaten path.
SOJOURNER WHITE (@thesojournies) — TRAIN TRAVEL
I do think train travel is going to be even more of a trend. I know it definitely came up more in 2021, but I definitely foresee that being something people seek out more often as an alternative in ways I don’t think they would have pre-pandemic. I know it got a great response on my Instagram and TikTok, so I anticipate train travel to continue to be of interest.
I’m also thinking that not only responsible travel continuing to be an emerging trend out of the pandemic, but more of the sabbatical type of travel. I know a lot of people with the whole great resignation are really looking for those extended, extensive slow travel experiences, which I think go hand-in-hand with more responsible travel experiences as well.
KRISTIN CORPUZ (@kristincorpuz_) — EXTENDED TRIPS
I think travel is going to be really unpredictable in 2022 just because we still don’t know what’s happening with COVID and things are rapidly changing. Travel policies are changing. Vaccination policies are changing. With that being said, I think people have been spending a lot of their time in 2021 being cooped up inside planning what their next big trip is going to be. I feel like we’re gonna see a lot of people taking really long extended trips because we’ve been cooped up for so long.
We are all excited to get back on the road, and I feel like people aren’t just going to be taking week-long or weekend-long trips anymore. They’re really gonna plan out to be in a region and explore for at least a month or so. I already know a few people who’ve planned out trips either in Europe or in Asia for next year, and I’m hoping to be one of those people as well.
LOLA MENDEZ (@lolaannamendez) — STRICT COVID REGULATIONS
My predictions for 2022 travel would be that conscious travelers are going to continue to seek out countries that have strict COVID regulations. Someone who’s being conscious right now is vaccinated, and they’re only going to go to countries that have high vaccine rates and require vaccinations for foreigners to enter, such as Uruguay where vaccines are required, or Rwanda where a negative COVID test is required to enter national parks.
At least for me, that’s something that I’m going to be looking towards. I think that’s how we can be responsible for the places we choose to visit in 2022. If we choose to visit places that do not have vaccine requirements, we will still get tested before we enter because it’s the right thing to do. So my 2022 travel prediction would be supporting countries that are supporting their people by having strict travel regulations.
ALISHA MCDARRIS (@terradrift) — SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL
I think 2022 is going to see a lot of the same emphasis on outdoor travel and adventure as 2021. People seem to be realizing the outdoors are pretty dang great, not to mention safe from a pandemic perspective. I’m also seeing a rise in sustainable travel. Folks are realizing travel has the potential to do good instead of just harm, so I think the year will see more accommodations putting an emphasis on sustainable practices, more travelers opting to purchase carbon offsets, and people choosing responsible attractions that benefit the local economy and culture. Huzzah to that!
SHARITA JENNINGS (@itssharitasworld) — MOVING IN
I think a big trend for 2022, because of COVID and because of all the unknowns, I think that long vacations are gonna be the norm. I think most people are still going to be working remotely, and the people who are still just not ready to give up their lives are going to be more ready to do month-long trips with family. I see people moving somewhere for a month or six weeks and making that their vacation. That way even with restrictions and testing requirements and all of that, they can still enjoy their time, but they’ll get a different experience than staying in a hotel. They’ll be staying in houses. They’ll be cooking for themselves, trying to be safe but also enjoying another part of the world. I think that’s what we’re going to see in 2022.
LAUREN YAKIWCHUK (@justinpluslauren) — OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
While I believe that international travel will begin to make a comeback, I predict that outdoor adventures and road trips will continue to be the big trends of 2022. As the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty regarding travel, it’s much easier to hop in the car and embark on an epic road trip to explore amazing natural spaces. As travelers begin to venture internationally, it’s possible that they’ll be avoiding the bigger cities and opting for road trips to smaller towns, and discovering natural wonders outside.
MICKELA MALLOZZI (@travelbarefeet) — TRAVEL WITH A PURPOSE
I think a lot of us thought international travel would be in the cards for 2022, and I still have hope! Small group tours, meaningful experiences, longer trips, sustainability, and traveling with purpose will guide everyone’s travel bucket lists going forward — including more domestic travel again and international destinations that will allow travelers in. Of course, I think the COVID vaccination “passport” or whatever you want to call it will be the determining factor for which destinations we can visit!
ZACH JOHNSTON (@ztpwhiskey) — PEOPLE FLAT OUT MOVING ABROAD
Having lived through 9/11, the 2008 Recession, and now a global pandemic that’s still raging around the world, I know one thing: Travel restrictions and PCR aren’t going away any time soon. Paying up to $250 to get in and out of the U.S. (for a PCR test) is going to be the norm for a while as we deal with Omicron, then Pi, Psi, Tau, Omega, and more COVID mutations over the next (likely several) years. Some years will be easier, some will be harder. Moreover, the world is being rebuilt in a way that I’ve lived for nearly 20 years — abroad and without the menace of a mortgage, car payment, or creditors that so many folks get stuck in by “staying home.” Working easy-to-find jobs from English language schools to over-heated kitchens to behind bars to behind documentary cameras made my life on the road tenable back in the day. Today, a lot of people can work remotely — I do. So why leave “home” for just six weeks or a few months. It’s time to say, “f*ck, it!” and just move the hell out permanently.
Home is where you make it and that can be anywhere. You can Zoom with old friends and family whenever you need. You can find work that you can do remotely more easily now than ever before. And if you move to a place, you’ll be able to travel around that country without having to pay to get in and out with PCR tests over and over again (I’ve lived in Berlin for 13 years and traveled Germany extensively and there are still a ton of places I haven’t been in this country). Plus, you can have an experience outside of the U.S. corporate media indoctrination and political circus and hopefully see the world a little more clearly by actually living in it.
It’s time to just move somewhere different, cooler, and new (to you). Plus, the amount you learn from figuring out how to rent an apartment in a language you don’t speak is education in its purest form.
EDITOR’S PICK: STEVE BRAMUCCI (@steve_bramucci) — SAUNAS, ONSEN, HOT SPRINGS, & MORE
Hot springs have been huge on Instagram for some time now. Which is a perfectly absurd sentence to write (hot springs bubble up from the earth’s mantle and are, therefore, ancient in nature and they’ve been used by humans for thousands of years — so acting like IG “made them” sounds totally bizarre); and also a perfectly reasonable one (the confluence of the IG travel aesthetic and the healing allure of these waters has combined to make a force so seismic that when I reserved a spot at a certain Pacific Northwest hot spring this winter, they must’ve googled me, recognized that I was a travel writer, and literally called me begging me not to write about them — “we are inudated and cannot handle any more popularity” the voice message said). In recent years, saunas, onsens, bathouses, wooden hot tubs, and other stylish-looking ways to relax have seen a similar IG boom.
With wellness being democratized and less stigmatized/ gendered than ever, I look for that to continue. Dramatically so. But I think there is a social aspect that will be layered on. Like the Russian bathhouse or Swedish sauna experience with a more 2022 energy. And… probably DJs.
Why? In part because, as Nicoletta Darita De La Brown wrote so eloquently in our 2021 Fall Experiences Guide, we all need some healing right now. And in part because Instagram’s specialty is convincing us that we can be as stylish and cool while relaxing as the models and pro photographers it sends us so many steady streams of. In 2022, I think we’ll see hotels — particularly boutique properties — take the aesthetics of their spas very seriously. How could you not in this age when IG powers so much of the hotel industry?
As I hinted before, I think we see these experiences grow much more social. The gay bathhouses of Chicago have long had a DJ and party vibe while the pools of Las Vegas take a similar maximalist approach. Will some travel brand open a series of plunge pools focused on wellness that also has a little party energy? Yes, abolutely. In fact, it’s already happening — the cult beloved Thermëa spa in Ontario certainly has a very social vibe and forthcoming hotel spas often feature shared plunge pools and public spaces (the brand new Montage property in Big Sky, Montana is much more social than its older retreats, for example).
Similarly, I think the fact that you can buy a sauna for 12K on Instagram or learn how to build a cedar hot tub on YouTube means that we’ll be getting a lot more Airbnbs with those sorts of features and it will prove to be a high priority for guests.