Ten travel trends for 2022, including influencer getaways and 'splurgecations'

From TV-inspired trips to ‘splurgecations’, Tom Breathnach reveals our holiday wishlists for the year ahead
Ten travel trends for 2022, including influencer getaways and 'splurgecations'

Northern Ireland is likely for a boom among Irish staycationers, particularly fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Derry Girls’

Staycations…to stay!

Irish holiday makers may be getting a little itchy feet, given that we’re two years into the pandemic, but make no mistake: in 2022 staycations are here to stay. It seemed like an saol is a mháthair were holidaying at home last year, with strong campaigns by both Discover Ireland and Discover Northern Ireland resulting in a swell of home holidays in 2021. And you can expect that to continue in 2022. An overseas travel market which remains jittery this month due to the pandemic is likely to see some holiday-makers reconsider their travel plans, in the short term, at least. Last year’s summer swelter which sun-burst our coastlines into scenes from Mamma Mia! will give Irish consumers added confidence to take a punt on a domestic getaway this year, while new hotel openings and refurbs, as well as an ever-adapting outdoor leisure market and food scene will see renewed interest to keep discovering the island.


Think volunteering all sounds a little gap year? Well think again. The combo of travel with creating social change is very much on the rise — particularly when it comes to saving the environment. You could say that social media and massively popular accounts like Save the Ocean have made an impact and now, many travellers are seeking to continue the good work on their overseas ventures. The Faroe Islands have introduced a hugely popular volunteer lottery where tourists can apply to visit the country to mend hiking trails eroded by their tourist predecessors. In the US, the National Park Services offer volunteer programme (similar to a J1 visa) in sites from Yosemite to Alaska, while in Europe, increasingly popular green projects range from helping to save sea turtles on the Greek Islands to whale conservation in the Azores.

Sustainable wellness

While the spa sector received a body blow during the pandemic, the wellness reboot is truly switched on.

And, just like the food movement, the shift to more local, sustainable wellness products is expected to gain ground in Ireland and abroad. That all means that instead of importing exotic products from the ends of the Earth to soothe your soul, local and sustainably sourced products are very much in.

Ireland is well poised for this shift with established low-mile Irish spa companies such as Voya; a burgeoning list of indie organic traders’ and great natural products surrounding us. “We’ve seen a massive demand in the need for our treatments” says Paudie Mac Diarmada of the new Seaweed Centre in Connemara.

“I think it’s down to our core ethos of the offering the natural surroundings of the Wild Atlantic Way coastline and the cleanest ocean waters in Europe together with an abundance of healthy local seaweed.”

Influencer getaways

You’ve watched their content, liked their posts, and followed them on Instagram. And now, you can now follow your favourite influencers IRL by holidaying with them on their latest hosted vacation. Influencer-hosted getaways, where popular Instagrammers partner with on-brand travel destinations to host holidays, are becoming a hot travel trend. Travellers (ie followers) book the trip with confidence having developed a trust with their favourite online creators; trips are particularly popular with solo travellers who travel with the assurance of that trusted influencer face at their destination. Leading the charge in Ireland is Nadia El Ferdaoussi, who is hosting a number of sell-out fitness camps in Marbella this summer where participants can enjoy her Good Life breaks of wellness, top nosh, and craic. Nadia is also heading off to host a trek up Kilimanjaro this month in partnership with Earth’s Edge tour: You can follow her adventures and trip offers at @nadia_dailyself.

Netflix & visit

Netflix hit ‘Emily in Paris’ is set to draw lots of visitors to the City of Lights this year
Netflix hit ‘Emily in Paris’ is set to draw lots of visitors to the City of Lights this year

Millions of us have been streaming TV shows at a time when we may well have been travelling overseas, but this Netflix & Chill period seems to be adjusting our travel choices. Popular shows are having a massive impact on tourism patterns (just look at Game of Thrones and Derry Girls tourism in the North) and 2022 is set to deliver a few new trending locations to travel to. Squid Games tours are already starting to take off in South Korea and despite facing criticism for its clichéd, beret-wearing depiction of the city, shows like Emily in Paris are expected to bring a new boost of tourism to the City of Light this year. Also, even though the new Sex & The City reboot And Just Like That has had more rotten tomatoes than a Trader Joe’s garbage truck, the show may just bring those shopping trips to NYC back in fashion.

City breaks

While the short city break was touted as one of the main casualties from the Covid era, if our social media feeds are anything to go by, it seems we are very much back enjoying urban getaways, particularly in Europe.

Expect easily accessible, al fresco-friendly, and slightly less tourist-trodden cities like Lisbon to be popular in 2022 while more adventurous travellers will be keen to avail of some of Dublin Airport’s new routes, from the likes of Reykjavik with new airline Play to Funchal in Madeira aboard the new Ryanair route. Flying from Cork? Expect Venice and Geneva to be part of many travellers’ weekend plans in 2022.

Bella Italia!

We’ve been dreaming of sun, sand, and eating our body weight in gelato since the pandemic began so one destination really seems to be resonating with the Irish traveller for 2022: La bella Italia. “Italy is by far the most popular choice for 2022 and across all regions — the Lakes in the north, Tuscany, Sorrento and Puglia to the south,” explains Yvonne Boyle of the Travel Department. “There is also a lot of interest in many other European destinations, including Croatia, Iceland as a bucket list holiday destination, and Portugal. River cruising is proving popular with Travel Department customers for this year, particularly along the Danube and our Egypt tour with the river cruise on the Nile is also booking well. We’re also seeing good interest in Russia, Jordan, and Vietnam, so people are looking to get back to their bucket list holiday plans this year which is really great to see.”

Back in the USA!

Little seems to diminish our love for the Stars & Stripes. But where is looking hot for 2022?

“Given the news last week that pre-departure tests ahead of arrival into Ireland are no longer required we have already seen a surge in calls,” Veronica Flood of Tour America tells me.

“Orlando is still the number one destination for the Irish when travelling to the USA, We are seeing people make up for lost holidays in 2020 and 2021 by staying longer and upgrading their hotels along with pre-booking park tickets etc. We have also seen an increase in generation vacations where grandparents are travelling with their own children and grandchildren. We have also seen a huge increase in clients looking for campervans, which allow much more freedom to travel at their own pace and in particular with the younger generation.”

Road-trip, anyone?

Active in Nature

From climbing peaks and hiking trails to surfing and wildlife spotting, the great outdoors (and shareable social media experiences!) have never been more in. “For 2022, we’re seeing a lot of people wanting to get out and experience nature and the great outdoors,” explains Sabrina Mahony, for TDactive Holidays. “They’re often picking our walking holidays to destinations such as the Camino de Santiago, Slovenia, and as well as here in Ireland for a staycation. This year, customers also want to experience a different type of holiday to really get to the heart of a destination and make the most of their holiday. That’s why they choose our Explore holidays which provide a range of local experiences such as cooking classes and rural homestays. They are proving quite popular, particularly Morocco and Transylvania: it’s good to see people planning adventures again.”


From the staycation to splurgecation, many visitors will be expected to splash a little extra cash on their travels or destination this year. Many travellers may be hesitant to travel too far afield in the current climate so do expect European bucket-list destinations like Northern Lights tours in Iceland, Santorini (a hot Instagram trend) and cabin getaways in Scandinavia to be popular getaways this year. Looking for the ultimate splurge? Add a Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise through the wilds of Greenland to your wanderlust wishlist. Wild open spaces, guaranteed!

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