Global Rescue members — the world’s most experienced travelers — have definite ideas about their travel and are forging ahead with their plans. Here’s a roundup of the results from the Global Rescue Summer 2022 Traveler Safety and Sentiment Survey.  

The return to the travel world has been a roller coaster. There are the ups of more countries welcoming visitors, fewer COVID protocols and fewer hospitalizations – and the downs of the BA.5 variant, airline disruptions and the rising cost of travel.

But Global Rescue members — the world’s most experienced travelers — have definite ideas about their 2022-2023 travel and are moving ahead and forging plans to overcome travel barriers. Here’s a roundup of 2,100 responses from the world’s most experienced travelers who shared their answers about travel in the Global Rescue Summer 2022 Traveler Safety and Sentiment Survey.

Travel Inflation

Inflation is having a minimal impact on travel: 79% report inflation won’t cause them to cancel their travel plans.

In fact, 21% plan to spend more time and money on trips to make up for curtailed travel due to the pandemic.

“Travelers are sending a clear message. They are eager to return to family vacations, adventure travels and business trips,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “By overwhelming margins, they are pressing forward with international and domestic travel despite rising costs and airline staff shortages. They are confident they’ll be able to travel and return home.”

[Related Reading: How to Beat Travel Inflation]

Travel Is Happening

Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents have already traveled internationally since the pandemic. The balance expects to travel abroad by the end of the year (16%) or in the first three months of 2023 (9%).

The numbers have been rising consistently for more than a year. The Spring 2022 Global Rescue Traveler Safety and Sentiment Survey found more than half of the respondents (56%) have traveled internationally since the pandemic, a 33% increase compared to the Winter 2021 survey.

Global Rescue member Nate Bennett and his wife made multiple international trips; two to Costa Rica in the summer of 2021 and another trip to Botswana in 2022.

“We are vaccinated and happy to wear a mask,” he said. “Costa Rica is very careful, especially in the tourist industry, and you live basically 24×7 outdoors. It felt safe there — which is why we went back a second time just two months later.”

Industry Challenges

Staff shortages among pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and ground crews — a new challenge disrupting summer travel — are affecting travel schedules, but the majority of our survey respondents (58%) have not been touched by it.

Cruising Returns

Cruises are back on the travel list, too. Forty percent of respondents have already taken a cruise since the pandemic started or, if they haven’t, they plan to this year. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents feel much safer or safe enough to cruise compared to only 19% of respondents earlier this year.

COVID Concerns

After two years of pandemic-related travel restrictions, a third of survey respondents continue to experience “re-entry” to travel anxiety with worries about where to go, or when to get back to travel.

The biggest international travel fear is testing positive for COVID and being stranded away from home. The good news is that fear is declining. A third of respondents (33%) listed this fear as the most concerning but it represents a 37% decrease from early 2022.

“‘What if I get COVID?’ is a top question we get when fielding inquiries,” said Jenna Chase, director of operations for Ubuntu Travel, a travel agency specializing in luxury, bespoke African safari tours. “Travelers want to know what to expect and what they need to do if it happens to them.”

But fear isn’t cancelling travel plans. Despite reports of the latest COVID-19 variant, BA.5, generating waves of reinfections and single-digit increases in U.S. hospitalizations, nearly 80% say the threat of a new COVID variant is unlikely to make them cancel or postpone international travel this year.

“Whether it is revenge travel or responsible travel following vaccination — or a combination of both —travelers feel safe enough to plan trips and vacations because they’re vaccinated, borders are open and they have confidence they’ll be able to get home if the worst happens,” Richards said.

Impact of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Other travel concerns include:

  • Having an accident (24%)
  • Trip cancellation (21%)
  • Civil unrest/terrorism (8%)
  • Being robbed, war, natural disasters and difficulty finding a COVID-19 testing facility (2% each)

The majority of travelers (60%) report some level of concern about international travel since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. While 90% have not changed their travel plans due to the war, more than a third are buying security evacuation protection as an additional precaution.

But for trips to Eastern Europe, the opposite is happening. More than half of travelers (58%) who planned or were planning a trip to Russia, Ukraine or any other country in Eastern Europe report the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused them to cancel or postpone travel to those areas. The data represents a 28% jump in the share of travelers canceling or postponing trips to the region compared to survey responses collected early this year.

[Related Reading: Is It Safe to Travel to Europe Now?]

Making Travel Possible

The pandemic has generated a tectonic shift in the traveler mindset. The majority of travelers (64%) say medical evacuation services are more important than Cancel For Any Reason (18%) insurance or traditional travel insurance (15%).

“Travelers learned emergency rescue and evacuation services are essential, whether it’s due to COVID, a natural disaster, civil unrest or simply needing emergency help when you’re traveling. Travel protection for emergency medical services and evacuation is no longer optional; it’s obligatory,” Richards said.