As the Omicron variant spreads, it only makes us dream more of travel. And while those who seek certainty may hold off actually booking flights or accommodation, others will take medical and financial precautions and take flight, because everyone has a bucket list of places they’d love to visit in 2022, both at home and abroad.
According to the travel association ABTA, one in two say holidays are even more important to them now than they were before the pandemic. The company’s new trends report, Travel in 2022, predicts this year will be all about the 'catch-up consumer'.
Customers will be upgrading accommodation, booking longer stays and visiting more expensive destinations. We’ll also be turning to the professionals to help with coronavirus travel requirements and provide a safety net in case of cancellations, with travel agents and package holidays back in vogue.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “Foreign holidays have always been a chance to escape the stresses of day-to-day life, enjoy new experiences and create memories that last a lifetime, so it’s understandable why ‘catching up’ on these missed experiences is coming through so strongly as a trend.”
As ever, sunny destinations are always popular with sun-starved Scots and, after a year in which most didn’t travel abroad, Spain, the US, France, Italy and Greece are top of our lists.
Families are opting for all-inclusive and child-friendly packages with flights from Scotland with the likes of Jet2 (www.jet2holidays.com), while couples choosing child-free resorts and newer destinations such as Iceland and Estonia is also having a moment.
Travellers will be taking a dander down memory lane and revisiting much-loved destinations, this time with an upgrade, such as the Greek island hopping ferry-inclusive trips from Sunvil (www.sunvil.co.uk). People worried about hotspots will opt for quieter destinations such as Menorca in the Balearics, where the campervan trend can be also enjoyed with offerings from (www.yescapa.com), Europe’s leading motorhome rental platform..
Also trending are longer-haul holidays to the likes of Barbados, with Virgin Atlantic (www.virginatlantic.com) starting Scotland’s only direct flight to the Caribbean island, twice weekly from Edinburgh last month, and The Maldives, as people prepare to splash out on bucket -list destinations if they get the chance.
Not surprisingly domestic breaks will be as popular as ever, with Google searches for ‘UK staycations’ up 23 per cent compared to last year.
National holiday home provider Park Leisure predicts whilst coastal areas will still be popular with bucket-and-spade fans, countryside escapes are going to become more popular with staycationers as Scots continue the love affair with the natural world on their doorsteps, north and south of the Border.
Closer to home with nearly half of people planning to travel locally, according to AITO, The Specialist Travel Association (www.aito.com), Scotland is well and truly on the map.
From stargazing in the Cairngorms (lastminute-cottages.co.uk) to walking in the ancient Atlantic oakwood at Crinan in Argyll and Bute, (woodlandtrust.org.uk), staying in everything from lighthouses, Nordic katas (omriecroft.com) and castles to townhouses and hotels, Caledonia is calling.
Much anticipated new openings this year include Gleneagles Townhouse (gleneagles.com/townhouse) in Edinburgh, Gleneagles’ first city hotel, all-day restaurant, roof terrace and members’ club, and W Edinburgh (stjamesquarter.com), topping the St James Quarter, with guestrooms and a destination bar with panoramic views of the city.
In Glasgow, House of Gods (www.houseofgodshotel.com) will be the place to go for decadence and rock-n-roll cocktails, while further afield there is The Bracken Hide hotel (curleyconcepts.co.uk), a unique pod hotel and Finnish sauna retreat on the outskirts of Portree on Skye.
As well as trends in locations there are changes in the style of holidays people aspire to enjoy, with activities and experiences on the increase as working-from-homers seek a break from routine.
Relaxation experiences are big, as are adventure experiences, such as hiking and water sports.
A renewed emphasis on environmental concerns and reducing travel impact sees the likes of Norwegian tour operator Hurtigruten Svalbardand (hurtigrutensvalbard.com) developing a new near silent hybrid vessel to explore the Arctic archipelago without disturbing the wildlife, and habit and safari goes silent in Kenya with Expert Africa (expertafrica.com).
In the UK the world’s first whole life net-zero ‘hometel’ room2 (room2.com/hotel) opened last month in Chiswick, London. And with COP26 heralding the first hydrogen powered train prototype, bear in mind that you could get the train from London to Edinburgh and back five times and your carbon footprint would still be lower than if you flew once.
There’s also an increase in people keen to give something back, in Scotland with a repeat of The Faroes Islands Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism initiative, which sees 100 volunteers involved in maintenance projects such as restoring paths in return for accommodation and basic food in May (visitfaroeislands.com/closed/sign-up-everyone).
And it’s not just the family or partners we’re considering in 2022.
Taking a pet along is increasingly common as lockdown puppies go along for the ride, with Google searches for dog-friendly staycations up 143 per cent on last year.
The Visit Scotland website has everything from hotels to cottages to campsites to activities suit canines (visitscotland.com/holidays-breaks/pet-friendly) and their crew, and even if you don’t have a dog, the website (www.visitscotland.com) is a great place to remind ourselves that if Barbados, the Balearics and boutique breaks with our bae turn out to be the stuff of dreams after all in 2022, there is a world of beautiful destinations right here in Scotland.