Reynisfjara is a world famous black sand beach on the south coast of Iceland.
Luis Cagiao Photography | Moment | Getty Images
Iceland has been a focal point of my wanderlust for more than two years.
The country is a dream landscape of natural beauty: the black sands of Reynisfjara, the towering icebergs of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the steep, rugged peaks of Vestrahorn.
I had to postpone a meticulously planned trip there in 2020, like so many other globetrotters who put excursions aside during the Covid pandemic. Since then I have asked myself: When is an adventure abroad feasible again?
The outlook for international travel in 2022 is brighter than ever, according to travel experts, especially for Americans who book trips in the summer or later. But they should expect more planning ahead and be flexible.
“Since March 2020 there has not been such a promising time as now”, Sebastian Modak, editor-in-chief of Lonely planet and the New York Times 52 places traveler in 2019, said of trips abroad.
“It really comes down to the traveler’s own risk and comfort level when things go a little wrong,” he added.
The year to grow up
Mouhoub Madina / EyeEm | EyeEm | Getty Images
According to an upcoming Expedia travel trends report for 2022, a large fraction – about 37% – of US travelers plan both international and domestic travel in the next year.
After almost two years of pent-up wanderlust, more than two thirds of American travelers plan to “grow up” on their next trip – be it a one-off trip abroad or an upgrade to a luxury hotel, according to the report.
Although only domestic travel plans remain most popular, which appeals to 59% of US travelers, interest in overseas travel destinations is increasing.
G Adventures, which offers guided group tours around the world, saw international bookings increase nearly 35% in November over the same period in 2019. The company sees “great demand” for travel to Peru, Costa Rica and Morocco from Benjamin Perlo, the company’s US managing director.
The search for flights to major European cities has also increased significantly in a short period of time – according to Expedia data, for example, between September and October by 65% from Los Angeles to London and 110% from New York to Paris.
Warm-weather hotspots near the United States, such as the Riviera Maya, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Cana, were the most popular with American tourists in early 2022, according to Expedia.
“I think 2022 will be the year to make it big and have some of those bucket list moments,” said Christie Hudson, Expedia travel expert.
Machu Picchu ruins in the Andes, Peru.
Go Ga | 500px Prime | Getty Images
There are many reasons for consumer optimism. For one, Covid vaccination rates are rising, which means Americans can travel relatively safely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends Vaccination before traveling abroad, authorized shots for children ages 5-11 in early November, which makes family outings easier.
In addition, travel restrictions will be relaxed. Many countries have reopened their borders to Americans, dropping guidelines like mandatory quarantine times. New Zealand, which had one of the longest tourism bans of the Covid era, called On Wednesday, starting April 30, it would open its borders to vaccinated non-citizens.
(Test requirements are still widespread for vaccinated tourists. Travelers can find country-specific requirements at the US State Department website.)
There has not been a promising time since March 2020 as it is now.
Sebastian Modak |
Editor-in-chief of Lonely Planet
The USA canceled the travel ban for most non-citizens on November 8th. That probably inspired more Americans to venture abroad as well – the proportion who said they avoided international travel hit a pandemic-era low of 55% in mid-November. according to to destination analysts.
“I’ve been in tourism research for almost two decades and [the desire to travel] seems incredibly strong right now – the strongest I’ve ever seen, “said Erin Francis-Cummings, President and CEO of Destination Analysts.
“I think that’s a huge tailwind for all types of travel through 2022,” she added. “People seem more open to new experiences or to returning to international travel.”
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And there could be deals for those who book a trip, experts said. For example, according to a joint annual statement, the average price of an international return flight is 35% lower than the cost for 2019 report published by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation in October.
Of course, the health situation can change quickly and thwart plans. A new variant of Covid discovered in South Africa multiple mutations that could do it transmissible or able to bypass vaccination protectionalthough scientists have indicated that more data is needed to make an assessment.
A New wave of Covid infections in Europe, Austria urged to be banned on Monday; Germany maybe soon do the same.
Auckland, New Zealand.
Scott E. Barbour | The image database | Getty Images
Some countries are still closed to American tourists or have yet to abandon strict health guidelines.
This is especially true for Asian countries, said travel experts. China, for example requires Americans must be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days in a government-selected facility. Japan does not allow any tourist trip.
Some travel companies are still wrong on the US travel side. Fodor’s Travel, for example, limited its annual Go list Relocated to domestic locations in 2022 due to the uncertainties surrounding international travel, although this has given a degree of optimism.
“Like many of you, we are still looking for international travel,” wrote Fodor. “And trips abroad can still be an option for the intrepid.
“If you can travel there safely and responsibly, go – go anywhere in the world,” he added.
Security and flexibility
Anton Petrus | Moment | Getty Images
Travelers should take certain precautions, especially in the interests of insuring against financial losses.
Experts recommend travel insurance that will reimburse travel expenses in the event of travel cancellation or other unforeseen circumstances.
However, there are different types of guidelines. A “cancel for any reason” policy is generally the only one that allows travelers to get funds back if they cancel a trip for a Covid-related reason, experts said. (Most basic guidelines don’t cover this case.)
Even the “cancel for any reason” option may not provide a full refund, and insurers may require travelers to cancel a day or two before the trip. It is important to understand the specific terms of a policy before making a purchase.
Travelers should also weigh flight and hotel options that allow for refunds, travel credits, or changes, even if those options cost a little more, experts said.
“I think you can feel comfortable booking this trip to Egypt in October when you’ve got insurance and maybe booked a flexible flight with airlines,” Modak said. “Make sure you have the option to book the flight for May 2023 at no cost if Egypt gets tough.”
Many companies have kept additional flexibility in terms of their policies prior to the pandemic.
I’ve been in tourism research for almost two decades and [the desire to travel] Seems to be incredibly strong right now – the strongest feeling I’ve ever seen.
President and CEO of Destination Analysts
With G Adventures, for example, customers can rebook a trip or receive full travel credit if they cancel up to 14 days before departure. (Previously there was a 60-day threshold.) This policy will remain in place for 2022 trips booked through March 31st.
“Those options weren’t really there for every pre-Covid company,” Perlo said.
It’s also important to have a budget just in case, Modak said. For example, if a traveler overseas has Covid and needs to be quarantined before returning to the US, how much money might they need to cover an extra week or two in expenses?
It is important that travelers approach a trip abroad with personal flexibility and empathy. Note that certain activities may be restricted or unavailable. A city with legendary nightlife can be tamer than expected if, for example, bars and restaurants close earlier than expected during the Covid era. Travelers may need to turn around and should do a thorough research of a travel destination in advance.
Additionally, not all countries or their citizens have equal access to vaccines, so mask compliance and other local regulations are paramount.
“It’s still a strange time to travel,” said Modak. “Bring a degree of patience and grace into the travel experience.”
(Correction: an earlier version of this story listed the wrong country for Punta Cana.)