Skift Take

Conscious travel and family trips are set to bounce back in a bigger way this year. But will consumer intentions to spend more this year stick if the war in Ukraine and its global impacts persist?

Travelers’ interest in conscious travel is growing and this intentionality in trip planning is coinciding with a desire to spend more on “dream vacations” abroad this year, plus the return of international family travel and events. 

Those are the key travel themes that have emerged from the American Express 2022 Global Travel Trends report released on Monday, surveying global consumers from Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, the UK and the US, and offering insight into their motivations. The data was collected just a couple of weeks before Russia started the war in Ukraine.  

A desire to make an impact while in the destination is driving booking decisions, as 81 percent of respondents — a jump from 72 percent last year — now say they want to travel where they can immerse in the culture and direct their travel spending to go back into the local economy.  

Dream trips also top the list, including using points to upgrade travel experiences and going further afield than travelers might have in the past two years.

“Not surprisingly, this is shaping up to be a big year for family travel, and all these things come together, but availability of vaccines for younger people, and families are just relishing the opportunity to travel together,” said Audrey Hendley, president of global travel and lifestyle services at American Express.   

Seventy-six percent of respondents say they plan to travel more with their family in 2022 than they did in 2021, and 70 percent agree that they are planning to take their first international trip with their children since the pandemic.

Trips are also being planned around festivals, sports and cultural events and those rank among the top four major travel themes emerging from the survey. 

Among the most promising signs for the travel industry is the willingness of consumers to spend more this year — at the time of the survey, up to 86 percent.

“February was our busiest month ever for U.S. cardmember bookings, and our fourth quarter bookings were 24 percent versus 2019,” said Hendley. “So there’s a nice trend emerging and this obviously continued into January, February, March.”

In spite of the ongoing global uncertainty, travelers are eager to explore again, Hendley said. “The world is ready to travel — people know it’s uncertain, and they’re willing to go for it, because there’s a lot of flexibility now.”

Three quarters of global travelers in the survey said they were willing to book a trip even if they had to modify it later — up from 56 percent last year.

Other interesting results:  

  • 62 percent of respondents are likely to go on a spontaneous trip in 2022, planning about 14 days pre-departure
  • 53 percent say they are interested in using a travel agent to help plan an upcoming trip

55 percent agree they are willing to go on trips for longer periods of time this year as a result of remote work

Tags: american express, coronavirus recovery, global travel trends

Photo credit: Family and impact travel top the year's trends according to American Express' global consumer survey. Larry Crayton / Unsplash