More than 80% of the world’s most experienced travelers took as many or more trips in 2023 than at any time before the pandemic, according to the Global Rescue Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey. More than a third of respondents (35%) said they traveled more in 2023 than any time before the pandemic. Nearly half (48%) said they traveled about the same amount and less than a fifth (17%) traveled less.

The enduring travel recovery is welcome news for the industry, as traveling continues to surpass pre-pandemic levels. “Adventure travel, luxury travel and other activity-focused segments continue to see strong growth. Many places are at capacity or are over-subscribed and have waiting lists,” said Dan Richards, CEO of The Global Rescue Companies, the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services, and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Experts had predicted revenge travel could lead to crowding at popular destinations, limited flights and lodging availability. More than half of survey respondents (58%) did not encounter any sold-out occurrences for any of their trips. Nearly a third (30%), however, said they were prevented at least once from booking something because it was sold out. Fewer than a tenth (7%) said they missed out on a booking three times or more.

Despite rising travel costs, airline flight disruptions and travel staff shortages, most survey respondents (66%) did not cancel any trips in 2023, and more than a third (38%) did not postpone any travel plans. Fewer than 5% of survey respondents said they had to cancel at least one trip due to rising travel costs and fewer than a tenth (9%) had to postpone a trip.


A flock of seagulls flies low along the ocean shore during sunset.

Wartime Travel

Despite war and violent conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and Israel, close to half of the survey respondents (45%) said they would travel both internationally and domestically for the winter holidays between November 2023 and the end of January 2024, according to the survey. Nearly a third (29%) said they would travel domestically only, 11% would travel internationally only and 16% had no travel plans during that time.


[Related Reading: Wartime Travel? Essential Information During the Russia-Ukraine Conflict]


“We’re seeing an understandable increase in traveler concern worldwide, but it is the most pronounced in the Middle East,” Richards said. “Nevertheless, international trip takers continue to gain comfort with wartime travel. We’ve seen this traveler behavior since the war in Ukraine and we’re seeing it today following the attack on Israel,” he said.

Travel uncertainty generally increases traveler demand for emergency medical and security services. “We’ve seen a 33% increase in traveler purchases of security services since the armed conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups started,” Richards said.


Medical staff wearing pink jumpsuits give a patient a shot while she sits in her car.


According to the survey, the world’s most experienced travelers revealed diverse behaviors when it comes to technology designed to improve airport check-ins, security processing and obtaining COVID-19 booster vaccinations.

More than half (58%) of survey respondents have already received an updated COVID-19 vaccination or plan to get one, which is consistent with the recommendation from U.S. and international official. Fewer than a third (29%) of respondents haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccination booster and do not plan to in the future. The remaining respondents (13%) are uncertain whether they will get a booster shot or not.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are equally as likely to travel internationally and domestically during the holidays between November 2023 and January 2024. “Travelers feel safe planning and taking trips and vacations regardless of their vaccination status,” Richards said.  ”Confidence in institutions recommending the vaccine and boosters has declined dramatically. We expect vaccine booster acceptance to continue to fall among travelers,” Richards said.


A security checkpoint sign at an airport.


Air travel in 2023 was predicted to be up by nearly a third (29%), according to a report by Statista, and international travel may close out the year up by as much as 50%, according to the International Air Transport Association.

To help ease crowding and accelerate traveler processing, the U.S. TSA introduced the Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) system in 2019. More than two thousand CAT systems have been installed in more than 200 airports.

Based on survey results, travelers have mixed reports about the system. Nearly seven-out-of-10 respondents (69%) have not used the TSA’s CAT system, a fourth (23%) do not know if they have used it, and less than a tenth (8%) said they have used the system. Of those who used the system, about half (49%) said it sped up the security clearance process, 40% didn’t notice a difference, and the rest reported it took as long or longer than the previous system.

Installation of travel hub kiosks at airports and other transportation centers was designed to move travelers through the check-in and ticketing process faster. More than half of respondents (53%) have used the kiosks but nearly as many (47%) have not. Most (61%) said the kiosks sped up the check-in process, but 18% reported they would prefer to check in with a live agent. A minority (3%) said the kiosks were too complicated.


A Japanese temple high up on a hill overlooks a city with Mount Fuji in the background.

Riskier, Immersive Adventures

More than a third of survey respondents (34%) are planning to take more adventurous or riskier trips in the future. Most respondents reported that the possibility of travel restrictions in the future and the YOLO maxim – you only live once – drives them to get as much adventure travel in as possible before they no longer can.

“Travelers are exhibiting behavior consistent with a mounting desire for immersive experiences,” Richards said. Most travelers responding to the survey (65%) want to go to destinations they have never been to, while 17% want curated trips to new, unusual destinations where they can have completely new experiences. New Zealand, Australia, Antarctica, Iceland and Japan were the most frequently mentioned places survey respondents noted as bucket list travel destinations.


[Related Reading: Immersive Adventure Tourism]


“Revenge travel demand initially contributed to the growing adventure travel boom. We anticipate increasing interest in adventure travel like African safaris, hiking trips, camping excursions and motorcycle tours,” said Richards.

Not everyone, however, is seeking more risk or adventure in their travel itineraries. More than half of respondents are taking the same number of adventurous or risky trips since the end of the pandemic, reporting they enjoy the way they travel and do not see a need to change. More than a tenth (13%) said they would take fewer adventurous trips to minimize health and safety risks while traveling. Some reported they were scaling back their level of risk-taking after learning about high-profile disasters involving adventure travel.

With increasing desires for more risk and adventure travel coupled with elevated international war and violent conflict, most survey respondents welcome the technological advances like adding satellite connectivity to smartphone capabilities.

Most respondents (82%) said they would feel safer with satellite connection abilities on their smartphone. They liked knowing they could call for help if they lost cell coverage, even though only 13% said they had lost cell coverage in the past. Many liked the peace of mind it would give their friends, family or colleagues.


The Global Rescue Survey

Global Rescue, the leading travel risk and crisis response provider, surveyed more than 2,300 of its current and former members from October 5-12, 2023. The respondents revealed a variety of behaviors, attitudes and preferences regarding current and future travel.