January is the time for making resolutions, starting the year off with new goals and aspirations – a fresh start. Winding down from the holidays, you may sign up for the gym or swear off alcohol until February; if you’re anything like me, you scour “Where to Go in 2022” articles and start your travel planning.

Here are a few trends the Lou Hammond Group team has spotted for the new year, with some travel inspiration for the months ahead.

…But First

The latest consumer sentiment report from Destination Analysts reveals that while the concern for contracting COVID is still very real and has continued to impact travel plans, optimism is increasing and enthusiasm for travel is strong. Nearly 80% of Americans have trips planned in 2022, with 72.8% expressing the highest level of excitement for their future travel plans since Omicron arrived.

Ready for a Spree

With pent up travel demand and countless postponed trips over the past two years, Americans have been saving up and are ready to spend spend spend in 2022. We anticipate many GOAT – or “greatest of all time” – trips this year, with families and friends reuniting for bucket-list getaways. This increased spending suggests a rise in far-flung travel itineraries (cheers to international travel!), longer lengths of stay, and splurging for elevated experiences across accommodations, dining, and excursions.

Ready to head across the pond? London is calling! On Regent Street, Hotel Café Royal combines modern elegance with history, hosting everyone from Oscar Wilde to David Bowie. The hotel has partnered with “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” digital art exhibit to create a new bespoke Van Gogh Afternoon Tea experience. The whimsical menu takes guests on a tasting journey through Van Gogh’s most iconic works, with unique selections of cocktails and tea, conjuring the essence of the expressive artist.

For the ultimate wine lover, check out the inaugural Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience taking place May 20-22 in Sonoma County, California. With a focus on the producers and makers of the wine region, the celebration will offer tastings, celebrity chefs, exclusive music performances, and VIP (and even Ultra VIP!) experiences to educate on the region’s farmers and growers. Vineyard truck tours – available for the first time to consumers – will allow attendees to walk the vineyards, touch the soil and learn how wine is made from the person who makes it.

Out of Office – For Real

With the rise in “work from anywhere” office policies, many Americans used 2021 to explore a destination that served as both a vacation spot and a temporary office or school for the family. This year, however, we expect to see employees use their PTO for work-free getaways. Whether a full digital detox or simply to (re)establish the line between work and play, travelers are placing an intentional focus on leisure, self-care and mental wellness.

Along the 30 miles of Florida’s Paradise Coast – comprised of Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – emails and conference calls are quickly forgotten. Instead, to do lists here include relaxing along white-sand beaches, exploring the “wild side” of the only sub-tropical mangrove wilderness of the U.S., gallery hopping along the famed Fifth Avenue South and dining on fresh local seafood. New this year, the Shy Wolf Sanctuary animal refuge offers Meditate with Wolves; a unique opportunity to meet and connect with the exotic animals under guidance of trained experts to offer different approaches to meditation, energy healing, yoga, and relaxation techniques.

Fresh and Clean

As health and safety remain top of mind, consumers will pursue outdoor adventures in their 2022 travels. Destinations with clear protocols in place offer peace of mind and those with wide-open spaces are poised for the sustained popularity of nature-based trips. Many will also continue to enjoy road tripping which allows for multiple stops, small-town hopping and the opportunity to easily bring the whole family along – pets included.

Following a record-breaking 2021, the state of New Hampshire is a great destination for active travelers looking to explore the great outdoors, with hiking and biking trails for all levels, and countless lakes for kayaking and fishing. And the best part is that visitors can experience the salt air along the charming coastline and breathtaking mountain views in the same day – but there’s no rush to do so; there are more than 1,000 miles designated as foliage drives and cultural byways.

Planning a cross-country road trip? A stop in Paducah, Kentucky, is a must as the American Quilter’s Society’s QuiltWeek returns April 27-30 after a two-year hiatus. Quilters worldwide flock to Paducah – home to The National Quilt Museum – for the four-day event that includes a quilt contest, workshops, lectures and vendors.

Meet the Locals

Beyond sightseeing, travelers are seeking to truly connect with destinations for more meaningful travel. These experiential moments span culinary – visiting local suppliers and learning about sustainable food sourcing; arts and culture – meeting the makers; history – this includes what’s unwritten; and so much more.

While Santa Fe, New Mexico, will celebrate numerous milestones in 2022, this most notable is the 100th anniversary of the Santa Fe Indian Market in August. Produced by the non-profit Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, North America’s largest and most prestigious Indigenous art market will return in person for its centennial, featuring Native artists from all regions for visitors to experience live entertainment, fashion shows and more.

Bonus: Along with the above trends, we are seeing an increased sense of industry and consumer responsibility to protect the environment and give back to a community, which will be invaluable for the continued rebuilding of our beloved tourism industry and economy. Consider doing good where you can, even if that simply means leaving a destination just the way you found it.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget about TikTok for travel inspiration – it’s not just about trending dances. The platform is seriously growing its travel content as influencers create short-form videos of their experiences around the world. There are 1M posts and more than 8.8B views for the #travel hashtag!

Happy New Year and happy travels!