Despite a devastating economic depression and the loss of nearly a quarter-million jobs around the U.S. since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many travelers say they’re planning bigger, longer and more over-the-top trips than ever before. Think of it as a kind of holiday retaliation against COVID-19.
It’s a response that, psychologically, makes complete sense.
“Stress … is defined classically as, ‘no way out’”, said clinical psychologist and travel writer Scott Haas. “We were afraid that the trap … was permanent. That’s how our mind works”.
Once the metaphorical “trap is sprung”, Haas explained, and we discover we are free — from, say, a relationship or a global pandemic or another major stressor — “all that pent-up energy explodes”.
Payback time: Longer and more expensive trips
When asked to imagine how their future trips might look different after the world returns to normal (or, at least, something close to it), many travelers said they planned to spend more on longer holidays.
In addition to making a trip more luxurious, upgrades make some travelers feel safer and can give them more peace of mind. The decision to pay up stems from wanting more flexible reservations, more space and more privacy (think: business-class seats, private car transfers and hotel suites).
Tour operator Intrepid Travel has seen a 31% increase in web traffic in the last two months for private tours among North American travelers. And in June, the private jet charter company Monarch Air Group reported a 125% year-over-year increase.
Settling the score with points, credits and cash
Though the pandemic has spelt financial disaster for many families, others have found they’re saving money by staying at home, cooking meals and taking advantage offers to earn more points and miles.
Now, they’re sitting on a growing stash of points, miles and cash they’re unable to use for trips this year — to say nothing of the travel credits and vouchers from cancelled trips — and are itching to redeem their figurative piggy banks for luxurious getaways.
Even the cruise industry, which is largely anticipating that cruisers will stick to shorter, closer-to-home sailings for the foreseeable future, said there’s bottled-up demand for travel.
The best revenge is living well
There’s also an element of reprisal that’s led many to call this trending behaviour “revenge travel” — a concept, according to the Washington Post, that originated with “revenge spending” in China following the Cultural Revolution.
Heather Leisman, president of luxury train tour operator, Vacations By Rail, says travelers are spending 10% more on upscale train vacations — and not just in the name of safety or security. “As customers plan and book their 2021 vacations [they’re] opting for luxury itineraries … to ‘make-up’ for sacrifices made in 2020”, she said.
Though it’s safe to say that most of us would like to demand a refund for 2020, splashing out in 2021 may be the only way to exact revenge for a year that left most of us with nothing but heartbreak, disappointment and a stack of travel credits.
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