Travel in 2022: Are holidaymakers ready to head back abroad?

With travel restrictions set to remain in flux, are 2022’s holidaymakers still hesitant to book or are they ready to head overseas again?

GoCompare author
Updated 4 January 2022  | 3 mins read
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Covid-19 has wreaked havoc with Brits' holidays over the past two years. Various regulations and safety concerns have meant that, for many, venturing abroad was simply impossible.

But, what will the next 12 months bring for travellers? To find out, we asked what their plans are for 2022, including where they’re looking to visit and which factors are having the biggest influence on their decision.

Holidaymakers divided over whether to head back abroad

Although the outlook for this year appears brighter, not everyone is ready to venture back overseas just yet. According to our survey, nearly half of the population is still unwilling to leave the UK, with 46% of respondents saying they don’t plan on booking a trip to another country in 2022.[1]

Unsurprisingly, the virus is the main explanation for this. Out of those who said they aren’t arranging a holiday abroad, a substantial 62% named Covid-19 risks as the reason why. Also, 39% said they wouldn’t book an overseas break if the number of coronavirus cases was to increase.

Interestingly, contracting the virus isn’t Brits’ biggest covid-related worry. According to our survey, the leading concern is the possibility of being stuck abroad amid rapid regulatory changes. This is closely followed by the prospect of having to cancel their trip, with catching the virus being only the third most cited reason.

What would make Brits reconsider an overseas trip?

Those who are looking to head abroad in 2022 seem hesitant to finalise their plans, as only 15% of respondents said they’re going to book their break in January. Many also said that the introduction of certain regulations would discourage them from travelling.

Being required to self-isolate on arrival at their destination topped the list of reasons why travellers would reconsider booking a break. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents also felt that having to self-isolate on their return to the UK would make them think twice before confirming their getaway. In addition, paying for PCR tests was a deciding factor for half of those asked.

Covid-19 isn’t the only deterrent for holidaymakers though. We also found that 31% were put off by the costs involved of travelling abroad, and 24% stated that they simply prefer staycations. Meanwhile, 14% said that Brexit has influenced their decision.

Travellers are unlikely to venture out of Europe in 2022

Our survey revealed that the vast majority of travellers won’t be straying out of Europe this year. Over half (55%) stated this as their planned destination, compared to just 7% looking to visit North America - the second most popular continent. Asia came third on the list but is the destination of choice for only 4% of UK holidaymakers.

It seems that most Brits have been dreaming of a day by the sea, as a quarter of respondents stated that they’re looking to book a beach break this year - more than any other holiday type. In contrast, just 14% are planning on taking a staycation, and only 12% are considering a city break.

However, while the number of people taking holidays abroad is back on the rise, it’s still far below pre-pandemic levels. Ramblers Walking Holidays, a UK-based holiday provider, say that 42% of their 2022 bookings are for breaks within the United Kingdom.[2]

In comparison, UK getaways made up only a quarter of their bookings prior to the coronavirus pandemic. This has meant that the UK (alongside Greece) has become the company’s top-selling destination, rather than Italy and Spain (which were their most popular countries in 2019).

Were travellers treated properly by holiday providers?

The restrictions on international travel during the pandemic meant that, inevitably, thousands of holidaymakers’ plans were disrupted. In fact, 40% of our survey respondents said they had to re-book a holiday due to Covid-19, and a quarter has had to re-book more than once.

We asked those who had to re-book about the outcome of their cancellations. Staggeringly, we found that 44% didn’t receive a refund voucher, meaning they were left without any compensation. Despite this, 77% said they were content with the way in which their travel agency treated them.

Are vacationers more inclined to take out travel insurance due to Covid-19?

With disruption and sudden cancellations as likely as ever, we asked Britain’s holidaymakers whether the pandemic has influenced their decision to take out travel insurance.

Despite the uncertainty that currently comes with booking a trip, 40% stated that they won’t be taking out travel insurance for their holiday this year. Astonishingly, when asked why, 66% said that they don’t believe they’ll need it. In fact, 77% of all respondents stated that the pandemic hasn’t altered their opinion in regards to taking out travel insurance.

When commenting on these statistics, Richard Jones, GoCompare’s travel insurance expert, said: “If you are intending on booking a holiday, we strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance so you won’t be caught out if anything changes.

“While many insurers are now providing cover for any Covid-19 related risks, be sure to check each policy carefully for your individual needs.”

However, those who are planning on taking out insurance seem to be keeping the virus in mind. We asked these respondents which coverage feature they valued the most when choosing travel insurance. Interestingly, almost two thirds (63%) felt that cover for emergency medical expenses was most important - far more than any other feature.

Similarly, the second most popular feature (24%) was protection from having to cancel or cut a trip short. In contrast, only 3% said they prioritised cover for lost luggage, while just 1% named compensation for flight delays.

Travel insurance purchases are up 7.6% among older travellers

According to our latest data, older generations of travellers have been planning to go abroad the most. Holidaymakers aged 45 and over are purchasing more insurance, with a 7.6% rise over the last two years.[3]

What this could show is that older travellers are now more health-conscious than they were before the pandemic. However, as this age group was one of the first to receive vaccinations, it’s likely that they are feeling more travel-confident, too.

The unpredictability of the travel industry during the pandemic has also resulted in an increase in multi-trip insurance policy purchases. This suggests holidaymakers are opting for packages with extended or flexible coverage, in case of a sudden change in restrictions or procedures on returning.

[1] In order to collect the data used in this report, we conducted a survey of 3,000 UK residents via YouGov. The survey ran on 1 December 2021 and all respondents were selected at random. All statistics featured on this page are sourced via this survey unless otherwise stated.

[2] Ramblers Walking Holidays provided these statistics based on their holiday bookings for 2019 to 2022.

[3] This figure represents the percentage difference in sales of travel insurance by those who are aged 45 and over, of all traveller types (individuals and couples), between 1 Jan 2019 - 20 Nov 2019 and 1 Jan 2021 - 20 Nov 2021.

Any other age group statistics on travel insurance purchases were collected from an internal source at GoCompare.