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The 10 top travel trends for 2022 - By Jenny Southan

Although going abroad will continue to be challenging for unvaccinated people, for fully-jabbed travellers, many parts of the planet will become more accessible in 2022. However, the stop-start nature of country openings will make planning difficult – who’d have thought France would close its borders to UK travellers for a few weeks in January 2022, for example? We are living in an unpredictable era that demands high levels of contingency planning and comprehensive travel insurance.

That said, there is plenty to celebrate and so long as bookings are fully refundable and/or offer free date changes, consumers will be able to go ahead and get some trips in the diary.

Finally, if making more responsible choices is important to you (as it should be) then picking a destination that relies heavily on tourism will mean your money will go towards rebuilding their economy – and giving locals desperately needed income. Here are 10 trends defining travel in 2022…

1. Restriction-free destinations

With booster programmes well underway in many parts of the world, international travel is about to become much easier as countries relax their entry requirements. If all goes well, destinations such as Australia and New Zealand will soon reopen to tourists after two years of being almost completely closed off. China, Bhutan, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mongolia and Taiwan could take longer to follow suit but in December 2021, Fiji finally reopened its borders to international travellers so there are indications that this is the direction things are moving in. Similarly, Vietnam began the process of allowing outsiders with the resumption of flights to the US at the end of last year.

2. Long-haul reboot

Although many industry experts believe it will take at least another two years for global aviation to return to pre-pandemic levels, long-haul flights are experiencing a revival. In line with the November 2021 restart of tourism for fully vaxxed travellers to the US, several airlines have been announcing new routes to US cities. These include Virgin Atlantic from London to Austin, Finnair from Helsinki to Seattle, British Airways from London to Portland (Oregon), and Lufthansa from Munich to San Diego. Likewise, Qantas flights from Sydney to London and LA began in November 2021.

3. Personal development retreats

The last two years have been uniquely gloomy but as we emerge into the sunlight, for many people this will be the year they invest in self-improvement. As the Great Resignation indicates, millions of people all over the world have been quitting their jobs and seeking new career paths, in many cases launching their businesses and becoming more entrepreneurial. With this in mind it makes sense that all manner of personal development retreats is popping up around the globe – from Aerial BVI in the British Virgin Islands, which serves as an ‘incubator for positive transformation’, to the Heartbreak hotel in Norfolk, which helps women overcome love loss.

4. Extreme expeditions

Taking on physical challenges will be top of the agenda for people bored of being confined to their homes, and travel companies are responding by launching a wide array of extreme expeditions overseas. For example, Black Tomato is offering quad biking safaris from the Okavango Delta in Botswana to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans; Secret Compass is organizing abseiling adventures in Venezuela and treks through the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. And Cookson Adventures is taking people deep-sea diving in the Cocos Islands, which has some of the highest aggregations of sharks to be found anywhere on the planet.

5. All-inclusive luxury

These days travel is costly and complicated due to all the Covid tests and paperwork that you have to do – so booking an all-inclusive resort is a tempting way to alleviate some of the associated stress of going away. Recognizing that even wealthy travellers enjoy hassle-free consumption, a rising number of high-end properties are embracing all-inclusive stays. Over in Hawaii, the Sensei Lāna'i, A Four Seasons Resort has an all-inclusive wellness concept, while Siyam World in the Maldives, which opened in October 2021, includes everything from meals to water sports in the price. At the Ikos Andalusia in Spain (also unveiled last year) guests can order limitless à la carte cuisine.

6. Cosmonaut training camps

Not many people can afford a ticket aboard a Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic flight to the edge of space but for those who hunger for the thrill of G-forces and weightlessness, new cosmonaut training camps are offering a taste of what it’s like to leave Earth. Since summer 2021, French company Orbite has been offering three-day astronaut orientation programes in Orlando, Florida, that include VR space missions, parabolic flights and private tours of the NASA Kennedy Space Centre. Prices start from $29,500 per person.

7. Hallucinogenic healing

Even if you haven’t watched the Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers, you might have read that the therapeutic benefits of hallucinogenic drugs are being widely recognized, and in many places around the world the consumption of psychedelic plant medicine is becoming legal. Quick to capitalize on this evolution are companies such as the Journeymen Collective, which organices shamanic magic mushroom journeys in Vancouver; and the Soltara Healing Center in Costa Rica, which prescribes ayahuasca under the guidance of indigenous Peruvian Shipibo healers and clinical psychologists. Over in Jamaica, Silo Wellness works closely with the island’s local Rastafarian community to facilitate mind-expanding group psilocybin retreats.

8. Barefoot workations

Tagging on a few days’ holidays to a business trip to Brussels is so… ‘bleisure’. Now that remote working is the norm, setting up shop on the sandy shores of an exotic beach somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean for an extended period sounds much more fun. Rather than taking a sabbatical, which involves temporarily leaving your job for many months, barefoot workations allow you to be productive in paradise. Over the last 18 months or so, numbers of destinations such as Barbados, Anguilla, Dominica, Mauritius, Bermuda, Aruba have launched digital nomad visas for longer-term stays – and this trend isn’t going to go away. But companies such as Hacker Paradise and Remote Year are making the experience more communal.

9. Adventure hiking

For the first time in 60 years, the ancient Trans Bhutan Trail will open in spring 2022 as a hiking route for tourists. To celebrate, G Adventures will be leading 11- to 12-day treks along with selected parts of the trail from May, with overnight stays in tents and local homesteads en route. These kinds of multi-stop adventure hikes are growing in demand and tour operators are responding by organizing specially designed treks so people don’t have to set off unsupported. This year, Much Better Adventures will be taking people on 100km hikes across the wilderness of Greenland, while Intrepid Travel has launched a trip to Montana in the US that includes hikes through rugged backcountry with a Native American guide.

10. Streamer locations

If watching The Tourist made you yearn for a dusty road trip across Australia or A Very British Scandal opened your eyes to the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, then you’re not alone. Having binge-watched countless shows on Netflix and other streaming platforms during lockdown, many of these series have provided incidental marketing for destinations around the world, inspiring Travellers to visit for themselves. Movies, of course, enjoy similar powers of persuasion. After being closed for three years due to damage from over tourism, Thailand’s famous Maya Bay in from The Beach reopened in January 2022. Where will people go next? The forthcoming Netflix series Inventing Anna will show a glossy side of New York; while season two of The Flight Attendant is being filmed in Los Angeles, Berlin and Reykjavik. Get ready to pack your suitcase.

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