The 2022 Travel Trends Report from Expedia reveals that travelers are shaking up the status quo with new priorities next year. Top findings from the report, which leverages Expedia data and a global research study, revealed that more than two-thirds of Americans (68%) are planning to go big on their next trip and that many are eyeing international destinations like Rome, Bali, London and Paris in 2022. Expedia is calling this new “no-regrets” style of travel the “GOAT” (Greatest of All Trips) mindset.
Expedia’s research, which was conducted by Northstar Research Partners and polled 12,000 travelers across 12 countries, uncovered that U.S. travelers are embracing the GOAT mindset by seeking out excitement/exhilaration (41%) and the feeling that they have made the most out of their trip (40%). The study also found that travelers are more willing than ever before to splurge on their future travels (40%).
“Travel is no longer just about ‘going somewhere,’” said Christie Hudson, senior PR manager, Expedia. “Coming out of such a long period of constraints and limitations, 2022 will be the year we wring every bit of richness and meaning out of our experiences. Whether it’s going somewhere new, being more spontaneous or treating yourself, it’s clear that a new wave of excitement is bubbling as travelers chase travel greatness to get their GOAT.”
Where U.S. travelers are heading in 2022
Domestic travel, particularly to warm-weather beach destinations, remains a top choice for Americans, with 59% of U.S. survey respondents planning domestic-only trips for 2022. However, a significant portion (37%) are planning both domestic and international vacations in the coming year. These are the top-searched spots on U.S. travelers’ lists:
Domestic: Orlando, Destin, Gatlinburg—Pigeon Forge, Panama City and Maui
International: Riviera Maya/Playa del Carmen/Tulum, Rome, Bali, London and Paris
Scrapping the schedule
The pandemic made it difficult to travel or do anything on a whim, with 37% of U.S. travelers admitting to being less spontaneous since the onset of COVID-19. While travel advisories and guidelines will persist for the foreseeable future, travelers nonetheless are planning to embrace the impromptu and let loose on their future trips. In fact, a quarter (25%) of respondents are willing to be more spontaneous and live in the moment and another 26% are aiming to be more flexible and go-with-the-flow this time around.
After canceled trips and postponed celebrations, travelers are ready to make up for lost time and go big to put themselves first and get the GOAT they deserve. Over the next year, 40% of U.S. travelers are more willing to treat themselves and spend money on their next trip. From indulging in luxurious experiences (15%), to upgrading on rooms or flights (16%) to visiting a bucket-list destination (32%), 2022 will be all about splurging on the things that make a trip go from good to great. The study also revealed that travelers between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most likely to go big (80% compared to 56% of travelers over the age of 50), while Gen-X travelers are the most likely to splurge on a high-end restaurant (18% compared to 16% overall).
Immerse to discover
Going big doesn’t just mean taking a bucket-list trip. In the coming year, American travelers are going after their GOAT by stepping outside their comfort zone (22%) and immersing themselves in a destination, culture and experiences completely different to their own (19%).
From trying food they’ve never eaten before (40%) and experimenting with local delicacies (31%), to attending a local music event (14%) and seeking out off-the-beaten track experiences and destinations (23%), U.S. travelers have a renewed curiosity to learn and experience the world.
In 2022, travelers aren’t just craving new tastes and places, they’re also yearning for the feeling of being excited and exhilarated once again (41%); with 11% willing to try daring or high adrenaline activities and experiences and 24% looking to have an unforgettable night out.
Additionally, when it comes to their next trip, one-fifth (21%) of travelers are most excited about doing things they would usually never do, including sleeping under the stars (19%), traveling alone (17%) skinny-dipping (11%) or having a vacation romance (10%).
A successful trip is no longer defined by likes on social media; rather devices are out, and traveler priorities are shifting to place a greater focus on staying present and mindful. More than a third (36%) of U.S. travelers are searching for a sense of contentment and mental well-being on their next trip, and nearly a quarter (24%) plan to spend less time on their devices to be more present.
In fact, the trip experience Americans are looking forward to most is the chance to relax and do nothing (38%). To reach this sense of contentment, more than a quarter of travelers (27%) also aim to spend more time in their destination to ensure they fully experience all it has to offer. Travel in 2022 will be about quality, not quantity, where travelers are embracing the simple pleasures to truly achieve their GOAT with more meaningful impact.