The hottest travel trends for 2022, according to Viator

Quick links

  • A chat with Adam Lawless, Viator’s Director of Communications, on current and future travel trends for 2022
  • Looking into the future of travel: what trends will continue and why

The biggest travel highlight of 2021? As reported by Millennials and Gen Z, “being able to travel again”. At least this is the official report by Viator, one of the world’s leading providers of travel experiences by Tripadvisor. As the world has reopened its doors to enthusiastic and new travelers, Viator has noticed some exciting trends on their site, all related to travelers coming back out in 2022.

Exciting new domestic travel trends show that the world of tourism is changing and likely changing for the better. Lesser-known destinations and experiences in general have seen an unprecedented resurgence, while tried-and-true destinations are traded in for a more local vibe. Alongside this, there seem to be some very specific places – and types of places – that have seen an overwhelming increase in visitor numbers each year – and we’ve been surprised, to say the least.


Viator has given us a glimpse of the biggest travel trends for 2022, giving us a glimpse of what the future of travel likely holds for those who are fully immersing themselves in vacation mode again.

Viator put us in touch with its Director of Communications, Adam Lawless, who had plenty to share about the trends seen through his incredible experiences. For those who don’t know viator offers bookings for tours, dining and sightseeing experiences around the world, from 4×4 desert drives to exclusive ghost night tours in historic cities. So if anyone is an authority on US and international travel trends, it is himself – and the results have not disappointed us.

It quickly became overwhelmingly obvious that people were desperate to travel again – but on their own terms. Local and outdoor travel has skyrocketed, and many travelers are choosing to metaphorically explore their own backyard before booking a trip halfway around the world. Here’s what Adam had to say about it:

Most importantly, people are flocking to outdoor experiences in droves, with the 10 fastest growing experience categories (and 18 of the top 20) all related to outdoor activities. Almost half — 48% — of experiences booked last year were mostly outdoors. Another strong trend dominating the travel market after confinement is the desire to stay closer to home for convenience and comfort. Before travel restrictions were lifted, people were becoming more interested in experiencing life closer to home rather than traveling long distances. Nearly half — 48% — of Americans said they’ve sought more local experiences in the past year, and that trend is expected to continue.

Referring to the age demographics associated with these trends, Adam also said that “half of Americans — and almost 60% of Gen-Z and Millennials” were those who cited travel as their biggest highlight for 2021.

Related: Top trending outbound destinations from Canada in 2022

Unsurprisingly, people are quick to book domestic trips to classic “bucket list” cities. Of these, the top 4 where demand has increased the most are:

  • Oahu
  • NYC
  • Las Vegas
  • maui

Interestingly, Adam notes that “Consumers are combining a desire for new experiences with a desire for nature, as they flock to cities that offer equal amounts of culture and outdoor experiences, as evidenced by the top four US travel destinations of 2022. “

This explains why Hawaii — which Viator says is seeing a surge in tourism on both Oahu and Maui — is such a hotspot right now. Its outdoor experiences are second to none, and it also includes another aspect that travelers seem to crave in their travels: proximity to the water.

Even beyond the summer months, Viator has seen travelers want to experience the water. Between 2019 and 2021, water sports experiences saw a 311% growth and cruises, sailing and water tours saw a 122% growth.

The Great Outdoors is not only popular in these cities. According to Viator, theirs San Diego Harbor Tour and Bostons Ghosts & Gravestones Night Trolley Tour have experienced a whopping 700% increase in growth over the past year.

Has seasonality impacted growth in outdoor and local tourism?

Not surprisingly, given the data, seasonality did not have a major negative impact on outdoor tourism or local tourism rates. Viator has noted that summer has brought an influx of travelers seeking the best – and more – of the outdoors, as it’s the “safest way to explore this season.” According to Adam, the 10 fastest growing experience categories on Viator are all related to outdoor experiences, whether they are tours or activities.

Additionally, local experiences in North America continued to soar with Viator – nearly half (48%) of Americans are looking for unique or new experiences that are much closer to home.

As in previous years, this year will still bring some uncertainties. What feels certain, however, is that our need to explore is unrelenting and extraordinary. According to a recent Tripadvisor report, travel intent is higher in 2022 than it was in 2019, and more than one in three Americans say choosing a destination to immerse in is more important now than it was before the pandemic.authentic local experiences.'”

So what about Viators Top 20 Viator Awarded US Experiences? These also seem to fit into the overall data, as measured by their average overall ratings, proportion of bookings with a rating, and the number of bookings for each experience. “Travellers have had to learn to adapt their approach to exploration in recent years, with outdoor experiences shining in the opening rankings,” Adam said in response to Viator users’ overwhelming number of local trips.

Travel trends, like everything else, usually have an ebb and flow. When it comes to what’s trending from one year to the next, it’s rare that anything is ever consistently popular, with the exception of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. However, Viator has a different take on what will continue to be popular in the year to come.

According to forecast data, three things are predicted to drive the majority of bookings in the 2023 travel season as well:

  • outdoor experiences
  • local travel
  • Excursion destinations on the water (seas, lakes, rivers, etc.)

Post the pandemic lockdown, Adam said Viator saw a record number of bookings for outdoor activities and tours, including 18 of the top 20 experiences in the US. In addition, almost half of the bookings for 2022 were also outdoor activities.

  • fun fact: Nearly one hundred distinct markets in North America saw demand for experiences double pre-pandemic, with top locations like Tulum, Cabo San Lucas and Denali National Park shattering 500% growth.

The numbers for local travel are equally staggering on a Viator scale, with 48% of Americans booking domestic rather than international experiences. The 10 fastest growing experiences were also US-based data after 2019, which is unsurprising given the toll the pandemic has taken on international travel.

So how can water-based destinations be justified? Viator’s data collected between 2019 and 2021 reflects this amazing 311% increase in demand for water sports, with tours and cruises seeing a 122% increase, all counting among experiences booked during that period. However, the Viator team also believes this is a trend that will continue into next year – even in winter, when water-related tourism usually sees its off-season slump.

With Viator as the authority on the travel industry, it’s safe to say that outdoor and local travel will continue to grow into 2023 and possibly beyond. In a post-pandemic world, the world of travel and tourism has changed too, allowing travelers to take advantage of things they didn’t even recognize right in their own backyards. Thanks to Viator, many of these experiences are now widely available and easily accessible for any wanderlust traveler.

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