5 Reasons to Be Optimistic About Your Summer Travel Plans

The gradual travel bounce-back from deep COVID looks poised to accelerate this summer.

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For most Americans, summer 2020 entailed camping, getting away from crowds in a remote vacation rental or skipping travel completely and opting for a quarantine staycation. Then there was summer 2021, which was supposed to be the “hot vax summer.” That was until the COVID-19 delta variant put the kibosh on people’s big vacation plans.

For many, the days of dusting off your passport, heading abroad and traversing a foreign country on a summer escapade haven’t happened since at least 2019.

But it’s now 2022. Many states have axed mask requirements, and several countries with strict entry requirements have eased them. Americans who want to have had ample time to get a COVID booster shot. New coronavirus cases are down from their mid-January peak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And with vacation season on the horizon, it’s looking like the third summer of COVID might be the charm.

Here are five reasons to be optimistic about your vacation plans in summer 2022.

Why travelers should look to summer 2022 with optimism

1. People are planning more (and longer) trips

The majority of travelers said they expect to travel more in 2022 than they did in 2021, according to the State of Cheap Flights 2022 report from travel deal site Scott’s Cheap Flights. That report, which surveyed more than 800 members at the end of January 2022, found that 75% of respondents intend to take more international trips in 2022 than they did in 2021.

And trips are set to be bigger, and likely better. Of the respondents, 63% said they expect their international trips will be longer, while 84% said they're planning to spend more than they did in 2021.

Meanwhile, only 15% of people are concerned about COVID as a barrier to travel, versus the 31% who were concerned in 2021.

2. Remote work enables more travel opportunities

The work-from-home trend continues. According to responders to Gallup's September 2021 update of its monthly employment trends, 45% of full-time U.S. employees worked from home in at least some capacity. What’s more, about a quarter of respondents said they now can work remotely all of the time. And with remote work typically comes the ability to travel more.

“Laptop-lugging leisure travelers are taking more trips, and adding days and dollars to those trips,” according to the Deloitte 2022 Travel Outlook, citing data from its 2021 holiday travel survey of about 6,500 Americans.

The survey also found that more than half of people who can work remotely also said their vacations were at least three days longer than usual since they could also work remotely on vacation.

3. Business travel is coming back

Speaking of work, official business travel is coming back as well. Almost 75% of business travelers said an increase is very or extremely likely this year, according to a January 2022 survey of 1,000 U.S. business travelers by travel company SAP Concur.

And many experts agree that an uptick in business travel is good for leisure travelers, too. Because business travelers tend to spend more on expenses like flexible airfares or first class upgrades, the extra revenue typically subsidizes costs for leisure-focused products (like economy seats).

Plus, business travelers generate more demand overall, which typically benefits vacationers. For example, leisure travelers may have more favorable flight routes to choose from due to the increase in demand.

4. Sustainability is getting renewed interest

The sharp reduction in 2020 travel shed a spotlight on travel’s often detrimental environmental impact. Happily, it looks like that passion for sustainable travel has, well, sustained. According to the Traveler Value Index 2022 Outlook conducted by Expedia in November 2021, which surveyed 5,500 adults worldwide, almost 60% of travelers said they are willing to pay more to make a trip more sustainable.

That could entail carbon offset contributions. Or it might simply mean taking fewer yet longer trips, enabling travelers to maintain the same number of vacation days as in past years but without the extra flights. It could also mean more thoughtful consumption of everything, from hotel towels to water bottles.

5. Travelers will be kinder

All that, and it seems that people will be a bit more patient and a lot more generous. Expedia's report also found that 21% of travelers said they intend to tip more than normal this year. Another 38% said they will deliberately spend at locally owned restaurants and businesses, which could help travel destinations retain their unique characteristics and help the local economy recover from the loss of tourism.

And people will likely be less pushy at airports, as 43% of travelers said they plan to add in extra time for transit this year. This could lessen the odds of grouchy people complaining about long airport lines, or relieve the extra stress of passengers running to their gates.

The bottom line

Increased thoughtfulness toward fellow travelers (and the environment) could be a warm fuzzy-inducing, positive omen. Willingness to spend more could help provide the revival the travel industry needs. And if money talks, then it’s saying that a relatively normal summer vacation (by pandemic standards) is ready to materialize.


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