Travelers are shrugging off inflation and getting back to domestic and international travel, according to the results of the Global Rescue Fall 2022 Travel Survey. Despite inflation and the rising cost to travel, the majority of travelers (70%) have not canceled or postponed an international or domestic trip.  

Inflation is not curbing most traveler spending behavior. Nearly half (47%) of travelers are not making any changes while on travel but among those who are 11% are flying on less expensive plane tickets, 10% are lodging at less costly places, 8% are eating out less or at less expensive restaurants and another 8% are traveling for fewer days, only 4% are reducing or not buying souvenirs or gifts during their trip, according to the survey.   

Airline staffing shortages are a concern among surveyed travelers, but they are finding workarounds to avoid flight disruptions. To overcome flight issues, more than half of travelers (55%) plan to fly nonstop whenever possible to minimize potential flight interruptions.  

“In the face of airline disruptions and the rising cost of travel, travelers are sticking with plans to travel,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, 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.  

Two-thirds (66%) of travelers said they would journey domestically for Thanksgiving or a similar holiday at the end of November and 16% said they would travel internationally. More than half (59%) planned to travel domestically for the holidays during December while 23% said they would take trips abroad, according to the survey.   

“Travel is back to pre-pandemic levels and that means heavy crowds at airports. Travelers should book nonstop flights whenever possible to avoid delays or cancellations due to airline staff shortages. They should join a trusted traveler program like TSA PreCheck to move through security faster,” said Harding Bush, a former Navy SEAL and manager of security operations for Global Rescue.    

Bleisure Travel Grows 

The survey also revealed growth in business travel and work travel, although not back to pre-pandemic levels. According to the survey, the majority of business travelers (71%) have already resumed work travel while another 14% expect to go back to business travel by the summer of 2023.   

Bleisure travel — a portmanteau of business and leisure that refers to a growing trend of business travelers tacking leisure days onto a work-related trip — may boost the return to work travel. The survey revealed that the majority of business travelers (73%) plan to use bleisure travel and take a few extra days for personal enjoyment following a business trip.  

“Whether you’re an employer looking to use bleisure travel to incentivize a return to business travel or an employee looking to take advantage of it in the future, it’s important employers make certain their duty of care legal requirements are comprehensively detailed,” Richards said.    

Traveler COVID Fears Dramatically Subside 

For the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, traveler fears about COVID are dramatically subsiding. The survey revealed the biggest fear or concern about international travel among the world’s most experienced travelers is having an injury or illness – but not a COVID-related illness.   

Traveler fear of COVID is no longer their biggest concern. Since August 2022, apprehension about COVID dramatically dropped at a rate of 39%, down to 20% compared to 33% in late summer.   

“Travel confidence is exploding in a positive direction. Borders are open, TSA data reflects traveler volumes pushing past pre-pandemic levels for the first time in more than two years, and travel spending is at its highest since the pandemic started,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue.   

Today, a third of travelers (33%) said their biggest fear is suffering a non-COVID illness or injury followed by trip cancellation (13%), civil unrest (11%), being robbed (5%), natural disasters (3%) and nuclear attack (less than 1%).   

Wartime and Natural Disaster Concerns Increase 

The survey further revealed that escalating threats of international military action and ongoing natural disasters make travelers more likely to obtain travel security services. When war broke out between Russia and Ukraine in February 2022 more than a third of surveyed travelers started buying security evacuation protection. Nearly a year later, the war continues and more than half of travelers said they are more likely or much more likely to acquire travel security services.  

“Travel uncertainty generally increases traveler demand for emergency medical and security services. Between the war and the pandemic, travelers want medical and emergency response services more than ever,” Richards said.   

Medical Emergencies Abroad

The survey revealed a striking statistic about travelers’ needs for emergency medical care or hospitalization while on a trip. A third of travelers surveyed (32.84%) said they needed hospitalization or medical attention during travel.  

As travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, and international travel increases in general, will travelers be at higher risk of illness or injury? Between 43%–79% of travelers who frequently visit developing nations become ill, according to a study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, and National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCIB). 

The pandemic has changed the traveler’s 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.  

About the Global Rescue Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey      

Global Rescue, the leading travel risk and crisis response provider, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 of its current and former members between October 25 and 31, 2022. The respondents exposed a range of behaviors, attitudes and preferences regarding international and domestic travel.