Come on, let’s be honest. We’re all itching to get out into the big wide world again. It’s been a long time. Travel has been seriously curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when it hasn’t been outright impossible to go abroad, there have still been plenty of restrictions making it tricky.
If people have gone abroad, it has largely been to enjoy a short haul holiday somewhere close. Big adventures haven’t really been feasible.
That has created a lot of pent-up demand. It has also left people craving something new. Even if you aren’t the sort of person who previously longed to explore the far-flung corners of the globe, that might be exactly what you find yourself craving now.
Or more to the point, after two years of being largely stuck at home, making so many sacrifices and missing out on so much, it’s novelty that you’re looking for.
Of course, it’s too early to start thinking that travel won’t be without its hiccups in 2022. Most countries are still operating COVID restrictions in the form of defined entry requirements. You will need to take those tests, you will probably need to be jabbed if you don’t want to face a spell in quarantine. But there are at least tentative hopes that 2022 will see us able to get out there and do it again.
So what’s new, adventurers? Here are two travel trends for 2022 that fit with the late pandemic zeitgeist.
Taking it slow
Some of us have had a lot of time on their hands throughout the pandemic. Others – we’re thinking parents who have had to homeschool kids while working, and those heroic souls working in essential services – have never had it so busy.
Either way, there’s a good argument for taking your time over your next planned trip. If you’ve had a 24 months that have left you drained and exhausted. If you’ve found yourself twiddling your thumbs – well, why rush something you will enjoy?
There are signs that a lot of people are looking beyond the conventional two-week holiday for something more substantial. They are also looking for a more laid-back pace to travel itself.
So-called ‘rail and sail’ travel – travelling by boat and train as an alternative to flying – is on the increase. For Brits looking to dip their feet in water, Europe makes for an ideal option. Rather than fly for just a fortnight in the sun, catching a ferry to the mainland and then making use of Europe’s fabulous rail network turns it into a much bigger adventure.
Using the pan-European Interrail service, you can book your own itinerary and take your time to explore for an affordable price. Rail and ferry companies are also working together to offer more and more combined sail and rail tickets.
Or, you can opt for a full package, with tour operators offering luxury holidays that combine travel on prestige trains with cruises down Europe’s great rivers or even across the Mediterranean. There are packages available that will take you as far as Cairo from London, all without flying!
If you don’t mind flying first, there are stunning cruise and rail adventures to be had on every continent. It’s a great way to see a sizeable chunk of the world at a laid-back pace that will give you the chance to rest and relax, and provide unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.
You might have guessed it, but another reason why travel by boat and train is growing in popularity is the fact that people are increasingly conscious about the environmental impact flying has. Companies like Responsible Travel have increased their rail and sail packages explicitly with a view to giving travellers more no-fly options.
According to Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, 83% of people think sustainable travel is vital. Just under two thirds (61%) report that the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future.
Sustainability won’t be achieved solely by the mode of transport we chose, of course. It depends on where we go, the types of accommodation we choose, how our presence impacts on the local environment (which also includes the way our money feeds through the local economy).
In its simplest form, sustainable travel would involve eschewing big built-up resorts that have often been developed with little consideration for local landscapes and biodiversity in favour of ‘light touch’ options embedded in the local community. The payback for travellers here is that it gives them an incentive to explore beyond the mainstream tourist trail and discover new experiences in the process.
At their more formal, sustainable package holidays and destinations are purposefully set up and run to support environmental, community or heritage projects on the ground. Stand-out examples include Costa Rica’s pioneering ecotourism programmes, which exchange access to the country’s stunning landscapes and wildlife in return for tourist dollars that can be reinvested into protecting precious ecosystems. In many cases, visitors are invited to get involved directly with the projects as volunteers while they stay, helping to further promote sustainability through hands-on education.
However you choose to travel in 2022, bear in mind that the pandemic is still casting a cloud of uncertainty over the best laid plans. If you are going to splash out on a big adventure that you undoubtedly deserve after the the past two years, you don’t want to see all that money disappear into thin air should you get a positive COVID test and have to cancel. Don’t take any chances – take out holiday insurance that will cover you for all eventualities.