Holidays will never be the same again – but that’s no bad thing says SARAH MARSHALL

As a species, exploring is part of our DNA. The triumph of crossing new borders, venturing into uncharted territory and discovering foreign cultures will never fade – even though viruses, variants and various restrictions have kept most of us at home for the past couple of years.

But holidays are also about relaxing and escaping everyday stresses – which is why so many people are desperate to make 2022 the year they finally get away.

Although a desire to travel is as strong as it ever was pre-pandemic, tourists are unlikely to holiday in the same way again.

International hospitality group Accor, which operate 5,200 hotels across 40 brands in 110 countries, have published a Northern European Travel Trends Report, revealing some surprising insights into travel trends for the year ahead.

From seeking soulful stimulation, to reconnecting with the environment, this is how our holidays might look from now on…

the roman baths in bath

The Roman Baths in Bath. PA Photo/Alamy.

Nurturing body and soul

Given the stress of the past couple of years, it’s no big surprise travellers are seeking holidays that focus on health and relaxation.

Spa-themed breaks are set to become increasingly popular – particularly in superb settings, with yoga gardens and meditation zones. Keeping fit is also important – meaning a hotel gym with a few dusty treadmills and a couple of exercise mats will no longer cut it with guests.

The new Fairmont Windsor Park, the UK’s newest luxury spa and wellness hotel, features a two-floor holistic and transformational wellness facility spread across 2,500 square meters, is a leading example of what’s to come.

Also part of a shift towards improving mental health, there’s a growing desire for self-improvement holidays – learning new skills, crafts or taking on the physical challenge of accomplishing a new sport.

Living it up

Locked up at home and unable to spend money, many people are now ready to splash their cash on fancy breaks in a bid to live like millionaires for a couple of weeks.

Luxurious all-inclusive resorts fit the bill for stress-free luxury holidays, while road trips with classic cars and nostalgic rail journeys are set to do well. Next year, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita will operate six trains with routes across Europe, from Rome to Paris, Istanbul to Split.

Call of the wild

Watching clouds, listening to the rustle of leaves and feeling a trickle of sand between toes are all sensations people are dreaming of experiencing on their next holiday. Lockdowns and an increased focus on the finer details of our natural world have led to a surge of interest in biophilia – an innate human instinct to connect with nature.

But it’s not only the setting that matters; as more people seek to connect directly with wild environments, saltwater swimming pools, thermal spas in places like Budapest and freshwater springs found in Bath are set to do well.

Creating the right kind of impact

An interest in the environment naturally leads to an increased focus on sustainability.

Caring more about their carbon footprint, people are set to change the way they travel.

Lingering longer in a destination is not only better for the environment – it benefits mental wellbeing, too. By sitting still, rather than rushing around, tourists have a chance to properly unwind.

City, beach or both?

For Britons, a nation of sun-seekers, most are likley to book a ‘fly and flop’ beach break for their first overseas escape. Italy has been identified as the top destination, followed by Spain and Greece.

But city breaks haven’t taken a back-seat. Along with the star attractions, many are keen to explore local, lesser-known neighbourhoods.

Dipping toes slowly into travel, most Brits are likely to stay in Europe this year. In terms of long haul destinations, North America and Southeast Asia are popular choices.