Travel in 2022: top destinations and trends
Experts pick out the best places and things to do this year
Lonely Planet has selected its “Best in Travel” list for 2022 and Westfjords in Iceland was named the world’s top region. Boasting mountains and waterfalls among its dramatic scenery, Westfjords is “untouched by mass tourism where communities are working together to protect and promote their spectacular landscapes”, the travel guide publisher said.
Luxury rail travel
Audley Travel has picked out luxury rail trips as one of the growing trends for 2022. The tailor-made travel specialist surveyed 4,250 people about their interest in rail travel and 81% said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to consider it for their next trip.
New opportunities to travel by luxury rail include Vietnam’s Vietage train between Danang and Quy Nhon. In Europe, Belmond’s Orient Express now takes in Florence and Rome on its routes, and the Rocky Mountaineer in the US includes a two-day trip from Denver to Moab. Bookings on the luxury Golden Eagle train in Russia, travelling along the Trans-Siberian Railway, increased four-fold before the pandemic, Audley Travel said. “This is set to continue with strong interest for 2022 thanks to the train’s off-the-beaten-track routing and luxury experience.”
The Seine Valley by bike
France’s La Seine a Velo trail is “worthy of painter Claude Monet, whose house and famous water lilies in Giverny are on the route”, said Gabriel Joseph-Dezaize of National Geographic Traveler France. The 270-mile cycling path, which goes from Paris to Le Havre or Deauville on the coast, has 15 stages. Must-see sites include the Chateau de Malmaison, which was acquired by Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Josephine in 1799.
The Cook Islands
The Cook Islands – one of the world’s smallest nations – claimed the coveted No.1 spot on Lonely Planet’s list of countries to seek out in 2022, while Norway and Mauritius were second and third respectively. “Fifteen droplets of land cast across two million sq km of wild Pacific blue”, the Cook Islands are “simultaneously remote and accessible, modern and traditional”, Lonely Planet said.
Original Travel has released a collection of itineraries under a new concept: “Travel Less, Travel Better”. The company intends to focus on philanthropic holidays, responsible travel, slow travel, rail and road trips, and sabbatical itineraries. The philanthropic holidays – or “philantourism” – are “all about travel as a force for good and represent a natural evolution of voluntourism”, Forbes said. One itinerary example is a 15-day trip to Sri Lanka, where customers can “support the community and connect with culture”.
Auckland, New Zealand
With its “natural and urban delights”, Auckland in New Zealand was named the top city in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022 list. “Many may not know that within the city’s boundaries there are 53 volcanoes, more than 50 islands, three wine regions and numerous beaches,” said Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher.
Travel technology company Amadeus has crunched the data and looked into its crystal ball to predict six trends that will “shake up the travel space”. Of the trends identified “friendcations” is expected to be a big topic in 2022. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime and WhatsApp may have filled the gap but “they are no substitutes for being able to see friends in real life”, Amadeus said. “So, no surprise that 2022 is gearing up to be the year of grand in-person reunions.”
Friendcations and group holidays are on the rise and in the UK there was an “explosion” of large group holidays being booked after restrictions were relaxed. “We expect to see the growth of group trips continue among friends throughout 2022.”
According to Booking.com, Llandudno is one of the top trending destinations for travellers to check out in 2022. Known as “The Queen of the Welsh Watering Places”, this Victorian seaside gem is “perfect for exploring beaches, nature, and castles along the North Wales Coast”. The Great Orme, Llandudno’s own mini-mountain, can be reached on foot or by taking the historic Great Orme Tramway.
African safari remains a bucket list item
“Bucket list” is a term that “gets thrown around a lot in the travel industry, often loosely”, said Larry Olmsted on ForbesLife. However, if there is one true example of a bucket list trip, then it’s an African wildlife-viewing safari. “You can have amazing trips in Kenya, Tanzania and elsewhere,” he added, but if you are to go just one time, “I think a combo of South Africa and Botswana is hard to beat”.
As the world opened up, many people “sought destinations with a relaxed atmosphere, wide-open spaces, and plenty of sunlight”, said Travel+Leisure. “No place filled the bill quite like Mexico”, which has been named the magazine’s 2022 destination of the year. If you are going to book a trip to Mexico, then “go beyond the obvious hot spots”, said the magazine’s Alex Temblador. “Many of us haven’t gone beyond the beaches and pools”, but Mexico is also home to “diverse indigenous cultures, complex belief systems” and “breathtaking natural wonders such as petrified waterfalls, pink lakes, soaring mountains, and deep canyons”.