Revenge Trip: How Vacation Revenge Became a Thing
(CNN) — As more countries reopen their borders to eager tourists, a new buzz phrase has emerged on social media: revenge travel.
“Revenge” generally has a negative connotation, which belies the happy and excited feeling so many people have about taking their first vacation in over two years.
But the idea of ”revenge travel” seems to be more about loving travel rather than waiting for a specific destination to make amends. Unless, say, Romania robbed your girlfriend or Peru got you fired from your job, it seems odd to get revenge somewhere.
Perhaps the “revenge trip” can be interpreted as revenge against the pandemic, or against Covid itself.
Not really. What is that?
“Revenge travel is a media buzzword that originated in 2021 when the world started to reopen and people decided to make up for lost time,” says Erika Richter, vice president of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA).
Part of the problem is that there is no one right way to describe the current mood of world travel. “Post-pandemic travel” is not entirely accurate, as the pandemic is not over in many places. Different countries and regions are operating on different schedules, with some removing all barriers to entry while others remain strictly controlled or even closed to foreign visitors.
Richter agrees with the general sentiment behind the concept, even though she doesn’t use the term “revenge trip”.
“It’s another way of saying, ‘Hey, life is short. I want to book this trip. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to connect with humanity and with nature. I want to explore the world and seek out experiences that make me feel alive.”
She’s not the only one in the tourism industry struggling to figure out how to talk about “revenge travel” as a trend.
“I don’t think the ‘revenge’ prefix is appropriate for what the journey should be like,” said Rory Boland, editor of Which? magazine, tells CNN Travel. He calls “revenge trip” an “ugly term”.
However, he acknowledges that the phrase is clearly related to people.
“What he’s trying to capture, I think, is a lot of people’s desire to travel again, to see new places and meet new people, after a static and dreary time.”
The people who do
Whether they use the term “revenge trip” or not, many travelers report taking their first big trip since the pandemic began.
Deborah Campagnaro, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, is one of them.
She retired from her job of more than 30 years in investment services during the pandemic and was looking forward to a great festive holiday with her husband. The couple took a group trip to Nepal in 2016 to hike the Annapurna Circuit, a challenging trek through some of the country’s highest peaks.
They enjoyed the trip so much that they planned to return to Nepal, this time on a personalized itinerary. Pandemic-related closures and weather difficulties have forced us to postpone several times. Finally, they have confirmed tickets and reservations for September 2022.
Campagnaro and her husband indulge in more time and experiences instead of fancy resort stays. They will stay in Nepal for a whole month and have added a few days in the lakeside town of Pokhara to treat themselves.
“It wouldn’t have happened before,” she says of the detour. “We’re just doing it now because we can. It’s very, very nice to have some downtime there after a hike.”
Rhode Island resident Brittney Darcy is also looking forward to a trip that has been scuttled by the pandemic.
The 26-year-old has dreamed of going to Paris since she was a little girl watching her favorite movie, “Sabrina.” But the planned summer 2020 trip with her boyfriend was canceled when Covid broke.
Now she’s finally rescheduled her dream vacation – but with more stops and some upgrades. Instead of five days in Paris, she will spend two weeks abroad in France and Italy.
“I took a trip across the country during the Covid, but it wasn’t enough and I always wanted to go to Paris and Italy and I never went. We are young and why not? ” she told CNN.
The money she saved from not traveling for two years is being used to improve her vacation. Instead of making a stopover in Iceland or Ireland, Darcy and her boyfriend paid more for a direct flight from Boston.
Darcy admits she’d never heard the term “revenge trip,” but once she did, it was a perfect term to apply to her trip to Europe.
“Covid has made me less frugal. We only live once, so might as well spend my money on experiences.”
Make up for lost time
One thing is clear: as vaccines spread and doors reopen, people around the world are eager to get back on the road.
Travel booking company Expedia tracks online search data related to travel and tourism. In 2021, the biggest increase in average travel search traffic – 10% – came in May, the week after the European Union voted to extend its contract with Pfizer and approve the vaccine for use on teenagers.
Expedia’s survey found that 60% of consumers plan to travel domestically and 27% plan to travel internationally in 2022.
And many of these travelers are willing to spend more money on vacation than they would have in the past.
Two years at home means some people have saved money and can now splurge on a fancier hotel, a first-class plane ticket, or an expensive, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
On top of that, more companies have permanently changed their remote work policies post-pandemic.
For some people, working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working from home — it might mean trying an Airbnb in another country and spending several weeks there while combining work and travel.
So call it “revenge trip” or not. Either way, it’s obvious that people have changed their travel mentality since the start of the pandemic, and that feeling of “oh, finally!” has a lot of power to sell airline tickets and hotel packages.
One of the people taking part in the trend is Expedia’s public relations manager Christie Hudson, who worked on the company’s travel survey.
“Honestly, I wasn’t very surprised [by the survey results] simply because the results resonated so strongly with how I personally feel,” she says. “On my last weekend, I booked several spa appointments and upgraded our flights to first class. I felt like I deserved it.”
Seychelles image via Getty