Travel in 2022: Is it time to plan those big trips abroad?
Iceland has been a focal point of my wanderlust for the better part of two years.
The country is a dreamscape of natural beauty: the black sands of Reynisfjara, towering icebergs of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the steep, jagged peaks of Vestrahorn.
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I was forced to shelve a meticulously planned trip there in 2020, like so many other globetrotters who set aside excursions during the Covid pandemic. Since then, I’ve wondered: When will an adventure overseas be feasible again?
The 2022 outlook for travel abroad is rosier than ever, especially for Americans booking trips in the summer or later, according to travel experts. But they should expect to do more advance planning and remain flexible.
“Since March 2020, there hasn’t been a time as promising as it is now,” Sebastian Modak, editor-at-large of Lonely Planet and the New York Times 52 Places Traveler in 2019, said of travel overseas.
“It really comes down to the traveler’s own threshold for risk and comfort for things maybe going a little bit awry,” he added.
The year to ‘go big’
A large share —about 37% — of U.S. travelers are planning both international and domestic trips next year, according to an upcoming Expedia report on 2022 travel trends.
After almost two years of pent-up wanderlust, more than two-thirds of American travelers plan to “go big” on their next getaway — whether that be taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip abroad or upgrading to a luxury hotel, according to the report.
Though domestic-only travel plans remain most popular, appealing to 59% of U.S. travelers, interest in overseas destinations is climbing.
G Adventures, which offers guided group trips around the world, has seen overseas bookings jump nearly 35% so far in November versus the same period in 2019. The company is seeing “big demand” for trips to Peru, Costa Rica and Morocco, according to Benjamin Perlo, the company’s U.S. managing director.
Flight searches to major European cities have also grown significantly in a short time span — by 65% from Los Angeles to London and 110% from New York to Paris, for example, between September and October, according to Expedia data.
Warm-weather hotspots close to the U.S., like the Riviera Maya, Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Cana have been most popular overall for American tourists traveling in early 2022, according to Expedia.
“I think 2022 will be the year of going big and having some of those bucket-list moments,” Christie Hudson, a travel expert at Expedia, said.
‘A great tailwind’
There are many reasons for consumer optimism. For one, Covid vaccination rates are climbing, meaning Americans can travel with a relative degree of safety.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends vaccination before traveling internationally, authorized shots for children ages 5 to 11 in early November, making family trips more feasible.
Further, travel restrictions are easing. Many countries have re-opened their borders to Americans and dropped policies like mandatory quarantine periods. New Zealand, which has had one of the longest Covid-era bans on tourism, said Wednesday it would open its borders to vaccinated non-citizens starting April 30.
(Testing requirements are still widespread even for vaccinated tourists. Travelers can find country-specific requirements at the U.S. State Department website.)
The U.S. lifted its travel ban on most non-citizens on Nov. 8. That’s likely also inspired more Americans to venture abroad — the share who reported avoiding international travel hit a pandemic-era low in mid-November, at 55%, according to Destination Analysts.
“I’ve been in tourism research for almost two decades, and [the desire to travel] seems incredibly strong right now — the strongest I feel like I’ve ever seen,” said Erin Francis-Cummings, president and CEO of Destination Analysts.
“I think that’s a great tailwind going into 2022 for all types of travel,” she added. “People seem more open to new experiences or going back to international travel.”
And there may be deals for those who book a trip, experts said. For example, the average price of a round-trip international flight is 35% below 2019 costs, according to a joint annual report published by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation in October.
Of course, the health situation can change rapidly and disrupt plans. A new Covid variant detected in South Africa has several mutations that could make it more transmissible or capable of evading vaccine protections, though scientists cautioned more data is needed to make an assessment.
A new wave of Covid infections in Europe pushed Austria to go into lockdown on Monday; Germany may soon do the same.
Some countries have remain closed to American tourists or have yet to drop strict health policies.
That’s especially true for Asian countries, travel experts said. China, for example, requires Americans to quarantine for at least 14 days at a government-selected facility. Japan isn’t allowing any tourism travel.
Some travel companies are still erring on the side of U.S. travel. Fodor’s Travel, for example, limited its annual Go List to domestic locations in 2022 due to uncertainties around travel abroad, though it added a measure of optimism.
“Like many of you, we’re still jonesing for international travel,” Fodor’s wrote. “And traveling abroad may still be in the cards for the intrepid.
“If you can travel there safely and responsibly, do it — go anywhere in the world,” it added.
Safeguards and flexibility
Travelers should take certain precautions, largely in the interest of safeguarding against financial losses.
Experts recommend travel insurance, which refunds trip costs in the event of a trip cancellation or other unforeseen circumstance.
There are different types of policies, however. A “cancel for any reason” policy is generally the only one that lets travelers recoup funds if they cancel a trip for a Covid-related reason, experts said. (Most basic policies don’t cover that eventuality.)
Even “cancel for any reason” options may not offer a full refund, though, and insurers may require travelers to cancel a day or two ahead of one’s trip. It’s important to understand a policy’s specific conditions before buying.
Travelers should also weigh airfare and hotel options that allow for refunds, travel credits or changes, even if those options cost a little more, experts said.
“I think you can feel comfortable booking that October trip to Egypt if you have the insurance in place and maybe booked a flexible flight with airlines,” Modak said. “Make sure you have the contingency where if things get tough in Egypt, you can book the flight for May 2023 without suffering any financial cost.”
Many companies have retained extra flexibility relative to their pre-pandemic policies.
I’ve been in tourism research for almost two decades, and [the desire to travel] seems incredibly strong right now — the strongest I feel like I’ve ever seen.
G Adventures, for example, lets customers rebook a trip or get a full travel credit if they cancel up to 14 days prior to departure. (Previously, there was a 60-day threshold.) That policy will remain in place for 2022 trips booked by March 31.
“Those options for any company pre-Covid were not really there,” Perlo said.
It’s also important to have a “just in case” budget, Modak said. For example, if a traveler gets Covid abroad and must quarantine before returning to the U.S., how much money might they need to cover an extra week or two of costs?
Importantly, travelers should approach a trip abroad with personal flexibility and empathy. Recognize that certain activities may be limited or unavailable. A city with legendary nightlife may be tamer than expected if bars and restaurants close earlier than expected during the Covid era, for example. Travelers may need to pivot, and should do ample research on a destination ahead of time.
Further, not all countries or their citizens have had equal access to vaccines, making the respect of mask mandates and other local rules of utmost importance.
“It’s still a strange time to travel,” Modak said. “Bring a level of patience and grace to the travel experience.”
(Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong country for Punta Cana.)
Top 10 Reasons You Should Travel After Graduating College
As a recent college grad, a lot of people have asked me why I chose to go abroad. Some couldn’t even seem to fathom the idea of why I’d want to live elsewhere instead of starting my career and life in the States. But really, at 22 why would I want to jumpstart spending the next 40 years of my life working 40 hour weeks waiting for those 2 weeks of vacation to spend each year?
Don’t let the ‘American Dream’ get in the way of your dreams. You don’t have to wait until you’re 65 and retired to see the world—live while you’re young.
The best time to travel is right now and here’s why.
1. You’re Free!
You just spent the last 19 or so years of your life in school—take a breather. A new chapter of your life is about to start and it’s good to take a little time off before jumping right in. Most people think it’s important to get a job right after graduation otherwise you may never get one, but that’s not true. Jobs will still be here when you return.
2. Your Responsibilities are Minimal
It’s not easy to drop everything and travel the world when you have a bunch of responsibilities. As you get older you’ll only gain more bills, mortgages, a family, and more that’ll tie you down. Bills and debt know no boundaries—they won’t stop coming to your mailbox just because you’re not home. After college is the only time when you have the least responsibilities, so go now or never because the opportunity may never arise again.
3. You’ll Regret Choosing Money Over Experience
“I regret traveling around the world and having awesome experiences”—said no one, ever. Even if traveling may leave you in debt, it’ll only be short term. Eventually you come back, find steady income and settle down. Until then, go out and experience the world while you can. Sure you can go start work right away, hoping to save up money to someday afford that nice vacation. But really, will you ever feel that you have exactly enough money for that dream vacation? Probably not. And if you do, then chances are you’re too old to want to travel by then anyways. Which brings me to my next point…
4. You’re Healthy
You’re young; travel is only going to get more difficult with age. Not just because of piling on responsibilities, but because of your health as well. Your body can handle a lot more now than it will be able to later. Cliff jumping or scuba diving with sharks? No problem. Sleeping on a floor or rock-hard mattress in a hotel room that cost 30 cents? No problem! Even traveling across the world by plane becomes much more difficult for your body with age—blood clots anyone? So do yourself a favor and travel now while your body is still in it’s prime… it’ll actually make traveling cheaper.
5. You can Travel more Easily on a Budget
As I mentioned in my last point, while being healthy you can endure more and save money. Cheaper accommodation such as budget hotels, hostels and couch surfing only become less on an option with age. Who wants to sleep on a horrible bed or couch when they are developing back problems? And hostels are made for young travelers, so take advantage of this cheap accommodation while you can. You’re probably used to sleeping dorm style anyhow. And who knows, you might just meet some other awesome young travelers like yourself.
6. You won’t have Discounts for Another 25 Years
Most of the best travel discounts are given to those who are under 27 years of age. International Student IDs or unexpired universities IDs make you eligible for discounted airfare, train fare, tours, museum and park entry fees, meals and more. Some of these discounts can be at 50% off. You won’t see discounts like these until you’re a senior—and by then you probably won’t be backpacking across Europe.
7. You’ll Learn how to Handle Money and be Independent
In school you are surrounded by people your own age with similar interests. Your parents probably helped you out financially and maybe even did your laundry still. Now you’re out of college so it’s time to learn to be fully independent. Traveling will force you out of your comfort zone. You’ll be fending for yourself—having to figure out getting around, directions, schedules, budgeting and more– while in a new environment and quite possibly in another language. You’ll suddenly be surrounded by people who are not all in college and may not share the same culture or views as you. Regardless, these could be some of the best people you meet in your life.
Traveling also serves as a crash course in finance. You’ll learn rather quickly how to budget and manage your money because if you spend too irresponsibly, you won’t have money for necessities. This being said, you’ll also learn what’s a priority and what you can live without. That $400 designer Gucci bag? Yeah, you probably don’t need that.
8. You’re Still Moving Forward
A lot of people may think you’re just running away from getting a job or that if you take one abroad it won’t pay as well. But chances are if you’re getting paid less in a different country—the standard of living there is also a lot less. Especially for most English teaching opportunities, people are paid more than enough to be making ends meet. In fact, most people make enough to save and bring home money at the end or to spend traveling with on the side. And even if you’re not exactly “making bank” at least you’re gaining experiences or opportunities while making something. That’s a whole lot better than sitting on your parent’s couch for days on end waiting for that phone call.
9. You’ll Figure out what you Want out of Life
Going abroad will open your eyes to new cultures, lifestyles and maybe even new opportunities or potential careers. How can you find your place in the world and know exactly what you want to do in life without seeing the possibilities first? It’s better to experiment while you’re young rather than to realize your true calling once it’s too late. Suddenly things that never seemed that important before might start taking a higher priority.
10. Your Resume Will Thank You
Traveling will buff up your resume with all the interesting experiences you’ll have. Employers really do prefer hiring people who have spent time abroad; it shows you’re ambitious, resourceful and responsible. Plus, skills you learned abroad such as learning a new language or interacting with people from a different cultural background will come in handy. Between your resume and a person who hasn’t traveled, you’ll win.
You’ll also continue to get perks once you land that awesome career. Seeing as majority of American’s don’t travel abroad (only around 30% even hold a valid passport) if the company ever needs someone to travel on business, there’s a good chance you’ll get the gig. Need to close a deal with [insert country here]? Guess who’s traveled there before… This guy.
So there you have it, now go book your ticket and leave. You can thank me later.
Is it safe to travel to eastern Europe right now? We asked the experts
People carry a giant flag of Ukraine to demonstrate against Russian attacks in Ukraine at Independence Square in front of the Parliament Palace in Vilnius, Lithuania – Copyright AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
As the Russia-Ukraine war approaches a grim one-month milestone, people are continuing to feel uncertain about travelling to neighbouring countries. But are these concerns justified?
Hours after the invasion, the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) warned airlines against flying over Ukraine, Moldova and parts of Belarus and Russia. Over the following days, airspace bans and sanctions solidified in Europe – and Russia retaliated – changing the scope of global air travel significantly.
Readers planning to travel to eastern Europe shared their concerns with us. And travel agents are still reporting a ‘nervousness’ around booking holidays more generally – dampening experts’ predictions for a travel boom in 2022.
A recent survey carried out by travel agency MMGYGlobal found that the war in Ukraine is now twice as likely as Covid to impact Americans’ plans to visit Europe. 62 per cent of respondents were concerned that the invasion would spread to nearby countries, while 47 per cent intend to wait to see how the situation evolves before booking a holiday.
Weeks on from the invasion, and EASA has had no cause to extend their Conflict Zone Information Bulletin (CZIB) to other countries. So does that mean it’s safe to travel in the wider region?
Here we answer your questions on travelling in Europe, based on the latest information from travel bodies and the UK foreign office.
How does the EASA decide which countries are safe to fly over?
The regulator is sharing their assessments on airspace around Ukraine via the Conflict Zone Information Bulletin (CZIB), published here. The 24 February update warns against travelling over the region of Chisinau in Moldova, and Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
It also recommends that air operators exercise caution over Moscow and the southern Russian city of Rostov “due to heightened military”, which could include launching mid-range missiles into controlled airspaces.
EASA takes into account all available intelligence information when updating the CZIB, a spokeswoman told Euronews Travel, working closely with the European Commission and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation – known as Eurocontrol.
The safety agency has had another CZIB in place over eastern Ukraine since 2016, following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 during an earlier point in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
Which countries have banned Russian planes?
All 27 EU member states along with the US, UK, Albania, Canada, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have banned Russian flights from entering their airspace. In return, Russia has banned flights entering their airspace too. While Japan does not have an outright ban, it has decided to avoid Russian airspace.
Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus are the only countries to have stopped commercial flights leaving or coming into their borders.
Euronews Travel has contacted all the airlines that fly to Ukraine and surrounding countries. Their responses are in this article, which we are keeping updated.
Is it still safe to fly to bordering countries like Poland and Hungary?
Yes, it is still safe to travel to Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, but always check the latest advice before you go. Poland is currently receiving a large number of Ukrainian refugees across its borders, so tourists planning to visit the country should book their accommodation in advance. Areas of Poland close to the Belarusian border are also closed.
“Hungary remains a safe country, and life continues as normal here. The Hungarian Government is doing its utmost to avoid involvement in the war, and to preserve the safety of both the residents of Hungary and the tourists who visit,” a spokesman from the Hungarian Tourism Agency told CNN travel.
There is no change in UK foreign office advice about visiting Poland and Hungary, except to note that Russian military strikes have taken place in Ukraine within 20km of the Polish border. But it’s understandable that tourists, business travellers and those trying to reconnect with family and friends have concerns.
Here are our answers to the questions you asked on Euronews Travel’s Instagram.
“I’m going on a trip to the Baltics in a few days. Starting in Estonia and Lithuania. Safe?”
Airlines are still flying on schedule in and out of the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – meaning aviation experts consider it safe to do so.
Ex-Soviet nations and NATO members have deployed troops to bolster their borders with Russia and Belarus.
There’s no sign this will affect travel between the Baltics or from other destinations, but tensions in the region are high.
The monument of Red Latvian Riflemen stands in Riga, Latvia. Roman Koksarov/AP
“I fly to Vilnius in a week, I’m concerned about flying over Belarus – what should I do?”
Lithuania declared a state of emergency on 24 February in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
If you are visiting the country you are now required to carry photo ID at all times and must present it to law enforcement officials upon request.
Spot checks may be in operation at border crossings too, but the UK foreign office is not advising against travel to Lithuania, so it is thought to be safe to visit.
“I’ve got a Baltic cruise booked, is it still safe to go?”
Many cruise ships have had to alter their routes in response to the war. Baltic cruises have been particularly affected, as many liners usually stop in St Petersburg.
“In light of the recent attacks by Russia in Ukraine, Princess Cruises is modifying itineraries on 24 cruises that call in St Petersburg, Russia with alternative ports,” Princess Cruises said in a statement.
“Replacement ports will vary by itinerary, including popular destinations such as Stockholm, Sweden (overnight call); Visby, Sweden and Gdansk (Gdynia), Poland. Guests can remain booked on their long-awaited cruises, and have the opportunity to visit medieval architecture, world famous landmarks and natural beauty on these Northern Europe cruises.”
While most major cruise liners have made alterations instead of cancelling altogether, some river cruise operators were forced to cancel trips scheduled for Ukraine. Major cruise liner Viking has cancelled Ukrainian river cruises and all operations in Russia in 2022.
“We have cancelled all 2022 departures of our Russia river itineraries – and will replace scheduled stops in Russia for all 2022 ocean itineraries,” said a spokesperson.
A list of cruise companies which have altered their itineraries can be found here.