Absence made travelers’ hearts grow fonder

New research from reveals that travel tops other priorities in 2021, such as falling in love and getting ahead at work

For months many could only dream of their next vacation, with everyday life being largely put on hold. With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, once it is safe again to do so, leading digital travel platform has conducted global research from more than 28,000 travelers across 28 countries and territories to uncover key insights into what travelers have been missing most, and what they’d be willing to give up to prioritize getting back to travel in 2021.

When asked which they’d rather experience this year, almost three quarters (71%) of global travelers would prefer to go on a vacation than to find true love, rising to 84% for holiday-hungry Spanish, 77% for travelers from Hong Kong and 77% from France. Additionally, 71% would opt for a trip over the chance to buy a new car.

But the love of travel doesn't end there, as two thirds (74%) would choose a vacation over a promotion at work, and over half (53%) would pick a trip away over dinner with extended family despite months of limited interactions with our loved ones. When it comes to stepping off the career ladder and jetting off, it's travelers from Spain (89%), Japan (77%) and Denmark (77%) who are most likely to pick a trip over a job promotion, whereas Taiwanese travelers are most likely to be prioritizing trip time over family time (66%), followed by Korean (62%), Italian (62%) and Croatian (62%) travelers.

The missed senses of travel

And when those “would you rather” questions become a reality and travel is back on the table, it's the little experiences that travelers are most looking forward to. Top of the list for a third (30%) of travelers is the ‘smell of vacation’, that waft of heat and scents that awaken our senses to the fact we’re somewhere totally new. Some travelers are even more keen than others to come to their travel senses, with over half of Croatians (57%), and 45% of Brazilians most anticipating that first sniff of vacation.

Holiday sights are clearly missed too, from fashion to frolics. Global travelers are also yearning for the chance to wear vacation clothing (17%) and indulge in a holiday romance (8%). Those most likely to be looking for more than a destination to fall in love with on their next trip and missing the opportunity for a holiday romance are Vietnamese (36%), Israeli (32%) and Chinese (32%) travelers.

Unexpectedly missing the ‘hassles’ of traveling

When it comes to our love of travel, we are even excited about experiencing some of the traditionally less fun aspects of a trip again. Top of the list is trying new foods for the first time and not liking them (13%), killing time in an airport waiting for the flight to board (20%) and the feeling of sand that is too hot to walk on barefoot (19%). It’s Colombians (36%) and Mexicans (30%) who are most looking forward to that less than delicious local delicacy, while Koreans (28%) and Singaporeans (26%) are keen to be killing time dawdling at the airport before a flight.

But it's not just local delicacies for which global travelers have an appetite when traveling, 17% are also looking forward to airplane meals as well as getting up in the middle of the night to catch an early flight (14%). The challenge or excitement that comes with trying to overcome communication barriers with locals is an unexpected missed experience of travel for 10% of global travelers, with Hong Kong travelers (36%) most yearning to be reaching for that local language dictionary. Slightly lower on the excitement list, but still yearned for by 14% of global travelers is getting sunburned and having sand in their bag or clothes, even after leaving the beach.

While travel has been paused, it's given us food for thought on what is truly missed about our getaways; from the functional to the fun, room service to romance. It's even meant that travel has become top priority for many over true love and career development. Many have been left longing to discover the places, cultures and experiences we’ve all been missing, when the time is right, and when we’ll be able to go from “wish I was there” to “wish you were here”.

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* Research commissioned by and conducted among a sample of adults who are planning to travel in the next 12 months. In total 28,042 respondents across 28 countries and territories were polled (including 1003 from Argentina, 1002 from Australia, 1000 from Brazil, 1001 from Canada, 1000 from China, 1002 from Colombia, 1001 from Croatia, 1003 from Denmark, 1002 from France, 1005 from Germany, 1004 from Hong Kong, 1000 from India, 1002 from Israel, 1000 from Italy, 1000 from Japan, 1002 from Mexico, 1000 from Netherlands, 1000 from New Zealand, 1003 from Russia, 1000 from Singapore, 1003 from South Korea, 1005 from Spain, 1001 from Sweden, 1000 from Taiwan, 1003 from Thailand, 1000 from UK, 1000 from USA and 1000 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in January 2021.


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