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Google Searches Show Pent-up Travel Demand With Adventure Travel Leading The Way

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It’s no surprise that there’s a pent-up demand for travel after a year and a half of restrictions forcing most travelers to stay at home. But recent data from Google just shows just how far the extent of that demand is – and what travelers want most in this new era.

Google Data Shows Pent-up Travel Demand With Adventure Travel Leading The Way

Search Demand For Travel Is Up

Recent insights from Google show that the desire to travel is stronger than ever after a year of lockdowns. The company says search demand for travel in May was up 270% compared with May 2020 and that 57% of people are looking to travel when the pandemic is over.

Searches like “can I travel” have jumped more than 800% while “travel to’ and “hotel booking app” are up by over 100%!

traveler in europe

What Are The Trends Driving Travel?

Given the ever-changing travel restrictions, flexibility has become a key driver for decision-making. 57% of travelers expect travel bookings to be flexible, relying on brands to provide flexible booking, changes, and cancellation options. 

Travel companies are seeing an increase in advance bookings for later in the year, but as destinations re-open, travelers are quick to jump on the opportunity to go.

For example, recent data from Skyscanner reveal massive increases in search volumes for destinations placed on the U.K's green list this week.


After the announcement, searches to Palma were up 690% in 24 hours, Ibiza searches increased 845%, and searches to Madeira increased by 1749%.

It’s Millennials and the Gen Z generations, or NextGen, that are most eager to travel again. These types make up over half of Americans (151 million) with $350 billion spending power in the US.

These adventurous types consider travel to be vital, treasuring unique and authentic experiences that are reflective of the region.

Shot of a young couple hiking through the mountains

Adventure And Outdoor Travel Leading The Way

Given the rising interest in the outdoors as people seek wide-open spaces where they can feel safe and de-stress from Covid-19 related news,  the pandemic has caused a shift towards a preference for outdoor, destinations rather than populated cities.

Skyscanner data shows that searches for the term “beach holiday” have been steadily rising in 2020 but “city breaks” are not yet recovering compared to 2019 levels. 

white beach

Interest in outdoor activities are also gaining momentum. The term “rentals near” has seen global growth of 100 percent year-over-year, with travelers showing interest in things like kayaks, bikes, and boats.

Get Up And Go Kayaking saw the number of paddlers increase by nearly 250 percent in summer 2020 compared to summer 2021, which owner Justin Buzzi attributed to people’s new interest in “wilderness therapy” to combat the pandemic blues.

couple kayaking on lake together and smiling

The popular tour operator Intrepid Travel has reported a 33 percent increase in bookings from North Americans since March, with its most popular trips including treks to see gorillas, glaciers, and active volcanoes.

“Go see a volcano, go trek through the Malaysian jungle—these experiences will likely see an increase because now danger has become relative,” says Nuno F. Ribeiro, a senior lecturer, and tourism and hospitality research cluster lead at RMIT University Vietnam.

“But people want to be assured—regardless of whether the activity is risky or not—that they’ll be able to return home confidently.”

 group of adventurers witnessing the eruption of volcano Eyjafjallajökull

For example, Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano just south of Reykjavik erupted in March and began seeing more than 6,000 visitors a day afterward despite the danger associated with it, quickly becoming one of the nation's' top attractions for 2021.


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