YourLifeChoices predicts 2022’s top travel trends for older Aussies

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Clearly 2021 wasn’t the best year for travel and the tourism industry. Come to think of it, 2020 wasn’t much better. Fingers crossed 2022 is a vast improvement.

I shouldn’t say this, I know, but I will. I’m feeling pretty positive about being out and about in 2022. I’m hoping beyond hope it’s not misguided optimism, especially in light of this mutant variant starting to make the rounds.

But for the vaccinated, travel should be something for which to plan in 2022. The tourism industry is certainly hoping you do. We hope you can, too!

So, what can you expect in 2022? What will be the emerging trends?

In my humble opinion, or IMHO as the ADHD kids say these days, the top seven trends for older Aussies will be:

1. Self-guided, self-planned and solo tours
In the YourLifeChoices OA Insights 2021 survey, 42.5 per cent of the 7155 respondents said they will take a self-guided, self-planned tour in 2022. More than two in 10 (22 per cent) want to head off on a solo holiday. Just over one in 10 (11.45 per cent) travellers also want the security of a travel agent to help them navigate tricky COVID requirements, cancellations and rebooking, but most want the freedom of seeing and doing things at their own pace.

According to the News Corp Consumer Travel Trend Forecast, advice of experienced travel advisers will be highly sought after in 2022, with 46 per cent of those intending to travel overseas concerned about the complexity of travelling in COVID times.

2. Put off putting it off
I’ve spoken to quite a few older travellers with means who say, when they have the opportunity to travel, they’ll get out and about in a big way. I’m seeing wish-list items ticked off instead of ‘filler’ holidays. I’m seeing bucket list trips aplenty.

This is reflected in a few 2022 travel trend reports, too. Expedia is calling it the GOAT mindset, meaning ‘Greatest of all Trips’.

“As travellers start to build their trust in travel again after a long period of constraints and limitations, travel in 2022 will be about embracing the GOAT mindset, to maximise the richness and meaning from their overseas experiences,” says Expedia Group Brands Asia head of communications Lavinia Rajaram.

The News Corp Consumer Travel Trend Forecast is calling it the Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip.

“The past year has dramatically changed the way we travel and how we think about travel, and there is no doubt that there is still a long road to recovery but we are seeing positive signs,” says News Corp Australia’s managing director, food and travel, Fiona Nilsson.

“One of the most common trends revealed by queries and bookings on portals is that many travellers are keen to take their once-in-a-lifetime trip now rather than postpone it to later. The pandemic and the lockdowns have made people realise that the future can be uncertain indeed.”

Read: Lee Atkinson’s definitive Australia and New Zealand bucket list

3. Travel that matters
A lot of Australians are very conscious of the damage done to local businesses and to tourism-centric operators here and abroad. With that in mind, many will look to do their part in helping embattled regions and nations get back on their feet.

This means more people will embark on philanthropic holidays – or ‘philantourism’. It doesn’t require huge effort but has a big impact on the regions that rely on tourism dollars. All you need to do is rock up, enjoy the culture, engage with the locals and buy local – basically spend your money on the local economy.

It also means people will focus on sustainable travel and ecotourism. Many countries experienced cleaner air and water while travel shut down. Think Venice, with clear blue canals and stench-free streets for the first time in many residents’ lifetimes, and you can see why they’re keen to keep things ‘clean’.

Travellers know this and want to do their part, too, with holidays that sate their wanderlust and look after communities and environment they’re visiting. There will be a run on eco-friendly accommodation, low-carbon activities, outdoor adventures, and Indigenous tours. It’s taken a while for ecotourism to get a foothold, but I’m hoping 2022 is the year sustainable travel sees more light.

4. More of the great outdoors
Think coastal road trips, national park sojourns, and holidays in the hills, travellers will seek the wide, open spaces after extended lockdowns in the suburbs and cities. I’m expecting log cabin retreats, remote coastal getaways and tree change vacations galore. According to Urban List, search terms for ‘wildflower field’, ‘stargazing’ and ‘nomad aesthetic’ have surged. In light of the pandemic, it’s looking like travellers are still a little sceptical when it comes to big overseas trips and as a side-effect of being cooped up indoors, we’re longing for wide, open spaces sans the crowds.

Read: Under the radar New South Wales national parks

5. Travel less, travel better
I read about an interesting concept on Forbes called ‘Travel Less, Travel Better’. It means travellers would take fewer but longer, better planned and more meaningful trips. They’ll seek in-depth opinions and advice about more obscure destinations, or non-honeypot spots surrounding or within popular places, such as visiting Padua instead of Venice in Italy, or Ishakawa Prefecture or surrounding islands instead of Japan’s metropolises.

Slow travel, train travel, small ship river cruising and cultural immersion is the order of the day. Travellers would spend weeks instead of days in a region, soaking up the vibe and spending time taking in the lifestyle. When you read it, makes you want to do it, no?

Read: Slow travel – reconnecting with the world at your own pace

6. Domestic destinations
Not everyone will be ready to head overseas in 2022, so expect domestic destinations to top travel lists. There is a plethora of reasons why, the least of which would be staying close to home in case of global lockdowns and the uncertainty around travel restrictions, testing requirements and quarantine mean many people will seek destinations where they’re comfortable with the rules.

7. Return to planning
Many people spent lockdowns dreaming about getting out. Now that there is at least some clarity (sort of) around travel and with the myriad amazing travel deals going around at the moment for bookings in 2022 and 2023, there will be some serious planning going on.

In the recent YourLifeChoices OA Insights 2021 survey, 55 per cent of the 7155 respondents said they plan to travel ‘as soon as I can’ or are ‘already out and about’ and more than 66 per cent are comfortable or very comfortable to travel right now.

This means many are planning and booking holidays now, and for the next two years. Some are organising three or more trips, says to the Consumer Travel Trend Forecast.

I know some who have already booked four and are already planning to book more.

What are your travel plans for 2022? How long will it be before you’re out and about? Why not share your thoughts/suggestions/opinions/tips in the comments section below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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