Over the past year and a half, the concept of travel has been redefined time and again towards the constantly changing 'new normal'. Recent developments have clearly influenced our travel behavior for 2022. To predict how and in what form we will travel in the coming year, Booking.com surveyed more than 24,000 travelers in 31 countries and territories¹ – including the Netherlands – and combined this with own data and insights.
The research shows that the wanderlust among the Dutch has risen sharply. The number of Dutch people who think that 2022 will be the year in which they want to fully enjoy the unpredictability and make up for lost holidays has increased by 52% compared to last year. The research expresses itself in seven travel trends that are all about the seize-the-day feeling and want to make every trip valuable:whether it's about our mental health, contributing to local communities, gaining new experiences or just say 'yes':the Dutch are ready to rediscover the world and make unforgettable memories.
After hearing 'no' for so long, travelers will need positivity and spontaneity in 2022:77% of the Dutch will let go of all structure and go for a 'go with the flow' holiday instead of a planned trip full of activities . Improvisation will therefore be an important part of our journey next year, where we will respond to any unexpected change with an emphatic “yes”.
More than half of the Dutch respondents (53%) say they say 'yes' to every holiday option as long as the budget allows. 42% are more open to different types of vacations than they were before the pandemic and 59% don't care where they go on vacation, as long as it's the type of trip they're looking for.
The pandemic forced us to spend more time in our own environment. We spent more time in the park, supported local businesses and made deeper connections with the people around us:a development that we want to continue on holiday in 2022. Almost half (46%) of the Dutch state that it is important that their trip contributes to the local community of their destination. In addition, 56%³ want the money they spend on travel to go back to the local community and 59%³ want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture.
Social justice is becoming increasingly important. This inspires travelers to do more research in 2022 on how well and how the place they stay supports local businesses (36%), or how their tourism spending affects or benefits local communities (32%). That means there's a new need to do the right thing for people who call our favorite vacation spots home.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we transformed our houses into offices and a new form of working (from home) emerged. The study shows a significant increase in people looking to restore a healthy work-life balance:by 2022, 6 in 10 (62%) of travelers will be completely free from work on vacation.
Despite the option to work flexibly, 58% of the Dutch even indicate that they would prefer to go on holiday for a shorter period of time in 2022 if that means that they can get away from it all for a while. They would rather do this than be away for longer, but at the same time have to spend part of their vacation time on work. Since 42% of the Dutch indicate that they have worked more and taken fewer vacation days during the pandemic, we can count on many leaving their (home) office in 2022 to enjoy a well-deserved holiday.
Uncertainty will remain a certainty in travel in 2022. Since we cannot change or predict every new surprise and challenge, we will have to embrace that uncertainty. Technology continues to help us face the unknown with confidence:over half (53%) of Dutch respondents say technology helps ease the tension around travel. We therefore expect even more predictive technologies that can help travelers make better and informed decisions. The research shows that travelers need this:more than half (56%) of the respondents are interested in an innovative service that can predict which countries can be safely traveled to or automatically suggest destinations that they can travel to easily.
As accurate as these software predictions are, it will take more for everyone to embrace the unpredictable new normal. The travel industry will continue to prioritize flexibility as it is seen as essential by travelers. The top three elements of travel for Dutch travelers are:the reassurance that they will not lose money (45%), the option to cancel (43%) and the option to change the trip for free (37%).
Not exercise or meditation, but going on holiday will become the form of self-care in 2022:63% of the Dutch confirm that travel improves their mental and emotional health more than other forms of rest and relaxation. After more than a year of ever-changing travel restrictions, the positive effects of travel on our health are being recognised:almost half of the Dutch (49%) say they didn't realize how important travel was for their well-being until it was no longer possible . In addition, 75% indicate that a planned holiday has a positive impact on their emotional health.
What makes traveling the ideal form of self-care? 21% of the Dutch respondents indicate that traveling causes them to leave their comfort zone, so that they can recharge and recover. Of this 21%, two-thirds (66%) say this is due to living in a new environment and 41% indicate that this is due to experiencing a new way of living. For some, it's about tasting new dishes (51%) or hearing a new language (37%). After more than 18 months of endless repetition, in 2022 it is precisely this variety that will become so important for our well-being.
Do you remember what it was like to get on a plane for the first time? Or to check in at a hotel? After feeling unable to move forward or backward for such a long time, travelers will enjoy every moment of the journey. The usual daydreaming out of the train window as the scenery glides past you, or getting lost in a maze of picturesque alleys to pick up the keys to the holiday home will be pure bliss for nearly three quarters (73%) of the visitors. Dutch. Every 'first time' on our 2022 travels will be a moment to savor.
A majority of travelers say that simple moments of happiness such as feeling the sun on their skin (76%) or seeing a stream, river, lake or sea (66%) immediately improve their mood. Even the uncertainty that traveling by public transport in a new city with a foreign language can bring is something 43% look forward to. After such a long period of limited possibilities, reliving the feeling of the 'first time' and intensely enjoying every moment will be typical of travel in 2022.
Traveling in 2022 gives us the opportunity to broaden our horizons and meet new people. It is therefore expected that travelers will use their holiday to expand their social circle. The fact that 50% of the Dutch respondents indicate that they would like to meet new people during their trip is completely in line with this expectation.
Romance is also expected to be part of travel in 2022. Based on the research, the prediction is that the phenomenon of holiday love will resurface and 34% of the Dutch hope to find this love during their next trip. Now that video calls are part of our daily lives, the chances of countless holiday romances turning into long-term relationships are much greater, because romance no longer automatically ends when the roads part.