The term “revenge travel” became a popular way to describe consumers dusting off their itineraries shelved by the pandemic, but 2022 is poised to be an even bigger payback to those dog days of 2020.
That’s because travel and all its incidental spending is back with a vengeance even compared to last year, according to new Mastercard findings — perhaps a surprise for some during a time of decades-high inflation.
There will be 1.5 billion more passengers across the world flying this year compared to 2021 if flight bookings keep ascending at their current trajectory, Mastercard
said, using data estimates with a global scope. That figure includes the revival of business travel, as more companies put a premium on in-person meetings and weekly face-to-face work schedules.
The projection includes approximately 365 million more people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico who are likely to take to the skies this year compared to last year, Mastercard added.
“‘No one is simply returning to who they were in February 2020.’”
— Researchers from market-research firm Destination Analysts
Bookings on short- and medium-haul trips have surpassed pre-pandemic levels by more than one-quarter, while bookings for the longest-range trips are just below 2019 levels after being way behind at the start of 2022.
A shorter trip would be up to approximately 1,200 miles away and a mid-length trip would be up to approximately 2,600 miles respectively.
In April, people paid an average $358 for a U.S. domestic trip, a 41% year-over-year increase, and $865 for an international flight, a 22% rise, according to Hopper, a platform to shop for airline tickets.
While inflation data shows the overall cost of living increased 0.3% from March to April, the month-to-month increase for airfares was a record 18.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
When people arrive at their destination, they are ready to spend on good food, drink and the ingredients for good memories: Global tourist spending on “experiences,” such as restaurants and concerts, is 34% higher than 2019 levels.
They’ve been spending more on “things” like souvenirs since summer 2021, Mastercard said. (Credit-card companies obviously have a vested interest in people traveling and feeling confident about spending money this year.)
Destination Analysts, a market-research firm for the tourism industry, polled 4,000 U.S. adults from March 15 to 23, 2022, and found a similar wanderlust among prospective travelers.
More than half (55.7%) say they prefer to go to places they have not been to before— up over 8 points over the previous month. “No one is simply returning to who they were in February 2020,” the researchers said.
American travelers are especially thirsty for experiences. As of April, they have shelled out almost 23% more in spending on the category compared to 2019 levels, Mastercard data showed.
Some of the international destinations with the sharpest influxes of American tourists include the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other Caribbean-region countries — places where COVID-19 regulations may be less strict than other destinations, Mastercard said.
“Travelers say they’re making up for lost time post-COVID.”
Two in ten people are planning domestic travel in the coming three months and 12% have international trips coming, according to the Mastercard survey. Just over half (54%) said they are looking forward to “make up” trips following two years of crimped, or no travel.
The Mastercard findings align with other research forecasting a summer travel season where high costs will not melt many plans.
Around 30% of people say they are getting ready to spend more this summer, and 22% say it’s going to be at least $1,000 more than their typical budget, according to a CreditKarma survey on Thursday.
Putting aside inflation and record-breaking gas prices, one-third said they are paying more because they want to “make up for lost time.” Another reason was getting back to normal life (38%) and 25% cited the “fear of missing out.”