Over the past year and a half, the course of travel has been redefined repeatedly as the ‘new normal’ continues to evolve. As we head into 2022, while COVID-19 is not yet in the rearview mirror, a sense of hope and optimism is beginning to take its place.
To explore this rolling wave of optimism, Booking.com has commissioned extensive research with more than 24,000 travelers across 31 countries and territories, 501 of which are from Vietnam1, combining it with its proprietary data and insights as a digital travel leader for the past 25 years, to predict how travel will continue to be redefined in the year ahead.
2022 will be the year to make the most of unpredictability and start making up for lost vacation time in a big way, with the number of travelers who feel they need to do so having increased by 52% since last year*. Booking.com’s predictions reveal how people will be reigniting the travel spark in the upcoming year. Whether it’s as an essential part of a self-care regime or the thrill of just saying yes to whatever travel opportunities and experiences come their way, it’s all about seizing the day in 2022 and making every trip matter.
More so than daily exercise or mindful meditation, getting away on vacation will become THE form of self-care in 2022, with over 86% of Vietnamese travelers affirming that travel helps their mental and emotional wellbeing more than other forms of rest and relaxation. After more than a year of ever-evolving travel restrictions, the important benefits that travel has on health and wellbeing are now being acknowledged, with nearly 60% of Vietnamese travelers saying they didn’t realize how important travel was to their wellbeing until it was no longer an option, and 87% saying that having a vacation planned has a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing
Resetting the Out Of (Home) Office
When the pandemic hit, homes across the globe became our offices too. However, in 2022 we’ll see a significant rise in people wanting to firmly reestablish a healthy work-life balance as vacation time itself will be strictly work-free for 79% of Vietnamese travelers in 2022, which wasn’t always the case in 2021 with home and remote work lives blurred. Despite the flexibility to work remotely, 61% of Vietnamese travelers would rather spend less time on vacation if it meant they could completely switch off in 2022 vs. spend more time in the destination, but having to mix business and leisure. And with 60% of Vietnamese travelers claiming to have worked more hours using less vacation days during the pandemic, we expect to see more people setting their well deserved out of (home) office messages in 2022.
All the First-Time Feels
While many of us have forgotten where our passport is or even just how to pack, all that out-of-practice travel awkwardness will give way to a genuine sense of delight for even the most routine aspects of our trips in 2022. After feeling ‘stuck’ for so long, rather than rushing through the journey, travelers will be relishing every moment. In fact, 89% of Vietnamese travelers say that travel is more enjoyable when the journey feels like part of the trip itself. Each ‘first’ of our trips in 2022 will be a moment to savor, with a majority of Vietnamese travelers saying that simple pleasures such as feeling the sun on their skin (73%) or seeing a body of water of some kind instantly improves their mood for the better (87%). Even the uncertainty of navigating public transportation in a new city in a foreign language is something three-quarters (71%) say they’ll enjoy. After such a long period of limited options, recapturing that first-time feel and leaning in to every single moment will be a hallmark of trips in 2022.
Being unable to move around during the pandemic has forced us to make the most of what was on our doorstep, such as supporting small and local businesses or lending a helping hand to those in need within our community. In 2022, this desire to connect authentically with local communities will continue on vacation too, as we become more mindful of our impact on the places we visit. In fact, 82% of Vietnamese agree that it’s important that their trip is beneficial to the local community at their destination and 79% would appreciate an app or website that provides recommendations on destinations where tourism would have a positive impact on the local community. 39% Vietnamese travelers will also do more research into how well their accommodation supports local businesses or how their tourism spend will affect or improve local communities (31%).
Swipe Right on New Places and Faces
For many, the pandemic meant spending an extended and intense period with our closest friends and loved ones, but vacations in 2022 will be an opportunity to branch out and make some new connections. As 79% of Vietnamese travelers want to meet new people while away, we expect to see them using their vacations as an opportunity to expand their usual social circles, with 79% looking forward to socializing while on vacation.
Just Say Yes
After so long of being told “no” travelers are reclaiming a more positive way of thinking for 2022. The coming year will bring the very best of improv to travel, with us responding to each unexpected twist and turn in the trip with an emphatic “yes, and…” In fact, 54% of Vietnamese travelers prefer a vacation where they stay flexible and just go with the flow vs. having a well planned itinerary full of activities. 84% of Vietnamese travelers agree they will say yes to any vacation opportunity if budget allows and 74% will also be more open to different types of vacation than before the pandemic because they’re just happy to be away from home. Adopting a positive mentality will open up even more of the world to travelers than ever before, with many taking a more adventurous approach to their holiday choices, and maybe even their companions.
Embracing the Unpredictable
Uncertainty will continue to be a constant in travel in 2022, and while we cannot change or predict every new surprise and challenge that fate has in store for us, we will embrace it. Having leaned on technology in a variety of ways to stay connected and inspired over the past year and a half, our favorite apps will continue to help us navigate the unknown on our trips, with 82% of Vietnamese travelers agreeing that technology helps alleviate the anxiety around traveling. Technology will continue to smooth out the unforeseen bumps in the road with increasing finesse and proactivity.
That’s why in the near future, we expect to see even wider adoption of predictive technologies which can help travelers make more informed decisions, with 79% of Vietnamese travelers interested in an innovative service that could predict which countries will be safe to travel to, even months in advance, or 82% wanting technology to automatically suggest destinations which are easy to travel to now based on their country’s and the destination’s current COVID-19 requirements.
Anthony Lu, Regional Director, Mekong and China at Booking.com told Vietnam Insider that: “As Vietnam gears to reopen its borders in the coming months, we’re seeing a lot of excitement and anticipation for Vietnamese people to return to travel. Whether it’s domestically or abroad, the new era of travel is already waiting around the corner, and it’s our mission to make it easier for everyone to explore again when the time is right. We will be there for travelers – offering the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience from anywhere and on any device – so people can reclaim their travel mojo and enjoy all of the unforgettable experiences this world has to offer.”
For a deeper dive into Booking.com’s travel predictions for 2022, click here.