From splurge-cations to pet-friendly stays, here’s 10 of the biggest trends for getting away this year
After a strange two years of travel, which mainly involved staying at home, tourism experts, influencers and industry leaders have outlined the top holiday trends for Northern Ireland travellers in 2022.
This combines two or more destinations into one experience. Sheila Rafferty from Terra Travel’s Craigavon office said these ‘tailor-made’ trips are definitely the most popular with their travel agency.
“Our biggest sales are bucket list holidays — tailor-made, multi-centres for customers, maybe things they’ve wanted to do and have put it off, but are now doing it this year,” she said.
Leading on from multi-centre excursions, which can be costly enough — although Sheila notes that deposits can start quite low — is the general sensation of the ‘splurge-cation’, a generic term which refers to just pulling out all the stops.
It can mean anything from flying to a far-off deluxe resort, or even just opting to fly first-class.
Sheila said Terra Travel has noticed a lot more travellers — particularly families — choosing “four and five-star hotels, all-inclusive, high-end stuff, something that costs a little bit more”.
“People have a wee bit of extra cash now (because they’ve been saving throughout the lockdown) and they’ve thought, ‘oh we can afford that now’,” she said.
In a survey by travel firm Expedia, of 12,000 travellers in 12 countries, the company found that 65% of respondents are planning to “go big” on their next trip,
The main piece to take away from this is — don’t be afraid to treat yourself.
WFH (Work From Holiday)
We know by now that everyone is well used to the WFH term, but this is a little bit different.
With remote working making employers realise that their staff can work remotely from, well, anywhere, a lot more people are taking this offer up when they can.
Airbnb says 20% of its bookings are now for a month or longer due to the “travel revolution”.
We saw a digital nomad village spring up in Madeira and new visa options for overseas workers in places like Barbados and Dubai.
Even with a more gradual return to jet-setting and foreign expeditions, the phenomenon of the good old ‘staycation’ may well be, well — here to stay.
This year will also see the long-awaited return of events expected to encourage NI residents to stick around, such as the Ulster Grand Prix and North West 200 for the motorcycle fans..
Darren Gardiner, owner of popular coffee shop franchise Ground Espresso, which started out in Coleraine, said that “the north west and the coast has stayed busy throughout, even during lockdown”.
He added that demand is already so high for summer this year that people will need to book their stays quickly as “there’s very little availability for accommodation in this area from May right through to September, so it will be busy, we already know that”.
After being confined to the four walls of our homes for an unprecedented amount of time, there has been an upsurge in bookings of adventure and activity outings, including hiking holidays and destinations which provide access to the likes of scuba-diving and e-biking. Sheila from Terra Travel said a lot of their customers are now after “something a wee bit different, such as escorted tours around South America or guided safaris around Africa”.
“It’s not just your typical bucket-and-spade holidays, it’s something a wee bit different now, which is good and gives us something a bit more interesting to do as well,” she added.
In addition, following the reopening of the French border last week, flight company Jet2.com reported a surge in ski flight bookings to Grenoble, Lyon and Chambery — as well as continued strong sales for flights to Geneva, Salzburg, Turin, Innsbruck and Barcelona (Andorra).
People craved the companionship of canines during the lockdown, and in Northern Ireland alone there has already been an increase in hospitality businesses that are now pooch-positive.
Therefore, pet owners are looking towards accommodation and locations, both domestically and internationally, that will be welcoming to their furry friends.
Hotel provider Hilton.com says “pet-friendly” was its third-most-used search filter in 2021 and the site even has a dedicated section on its homepage for this category now.
You can also check out woofadvisor.com, a free trip planner that provides family and pet-friendly destination guides for across the US, the UK and Ireland.
Sun, sand and celebrations
Travel firm Amadeus noticed that across the UK, an explosion of bookings to traditional party spots by large groups came about when travel restrictions initially eased.
Las Vegas, Ibiza, Tenerife and Mallorca are all tipped to be hotspots this year, especially for those aged 18 to 30. Amadeus has even coined the travel trend as “friendcations” for 2022.
Magherafelt-based travel blogger Fran McKee has seen an increase in ‘reunion’-style holidays, such as friend groups hosting birthdays, weddings and hen/stag parties abroad more.
“I have a wedding in June in Madrid, and instead of just taking a couple of days, all of us that are going are taking a week off work and exploring as well, which will be a really fun thing to do,” she said.
Stateside road trips
Software company Travelport revealed that searches for flights from the UK to the US alone have surpassed searches from all other European countries combined.
Terra Travel’s Sheila confirmed that this year’s big US hitters include Las Vegas and New York, with a majority of customers already booking festive Christmas trips to the latter for November and December.
Fran foresees a lot more travellers opting for last-minute, cheep and cheerful breaks. “Often, no one knows what’s going on with restrictions and you can get really good deals at the last minute as well,” she said.
“I think Lanzarote will be a big shout, as there’s quite a few flights from Belfast from day-to-day, whereas lots of companies usually do just weekly flights.
Mini holidays where you can just bring quick hand luggage will also be popular in the summer,” she added.
Similar to multi-centre trips, lots of teenagers and young people are being encouraged to see multiple European cities via one roundabout trip, and trains provide a great way to take in breathtaking landscapes and sceneries you might otherwise miss via plane.
One of the top choices is Italy’s ‘Red Arrow’ sleeper train, from Paris to Turin and Milan, which started a month ago.
For those fancying a bit more decadence, the Orient Express is preparing a five-star ‘La Dolce Vita’ programme for 2023, offering six trains taking in several European itineraries.