For a variety of reasons, many world wanderers I know have already started searching for where to travel in 2022. First among them? Although travel in 2021 will almost certainly be possible, it will be wrought (at least initially) with uncertainty and ever-changing restrictions.
By 2022, on the other, with most of the developed world (and a good chunk of the developing world) vaccinated against Covid-19, the acute phase of the pandemic will have long-since passed. The dreaded variants may continue circulating, but so too will we have adapted our amazing vaccines to specifically target them—if we haven’t fully beaten SARS-CoV-2, it will be in visible retreat.
But enough of that—this isn’t a medical blog and I’m not a doctor. I am stoked about what travel will look like at this time next year, however, and I hope you’ll keep reading for my take on that.
Why I’m Bullish About Travel in 2022
Before I discuss the specifics of where to travel in 2022 (or at least, where I plan to go—you may or may not follow in my footsteps), I want to get slightly more into the weeds of why I feel optimistic about travel next year. Although the news media is constantly painting a picture of doom-and-gloom about the pandemic, I (and many respected medical experts) firmly believe the vaccines now going into arms are a ticket (and a quick one, much quicker than we’re expecting) out of it.
I’ll have more to say on the idea of a “vaccine passport” later in this post; while I think this may be part of the conversation now, I don’t think it will be relevant deep into 2022. Broadly speaking, I believe SARS-CoV-2 will be “defanged” by then, so even though it may still be circulating, it won’t destroy our lives. Now, onto the part of this post that will feel like a research paper writing service on account of its specificity and detail!
Where I Plan to Visit in 2022
Given that I currently live in Japan, it might seem strange to read that this country is at the top of my list for 2022, but I have two reasons for this. First, my visa will expire next March; second, I know I won’t be able to stay away for long. In particular, I imagine next year’s cherry blossom season will be a joyous “return to form” for inbound tourism to Japan.
Another top pick for where to travel in 2022, both for myself and for almost everyone else I’ve spoken with, is Italy. For me personally, this is easy—and not just because the only thing I love more than Italian food is Italian beaches. And Italian hotels. And Italian men. I’d already planned a trip to Italy for 2020; I will use the exact same itinerary.
The South Pacific
It might sound shocking, given what a globetrotter I am, but I’ve never been to South Pacific islands such as Tahiti and Bora Bora. Hopefully, my sister and her boyfriend will be able to join me. While I love solo travel, certain types of destinations just don’t seem as appealing alone.
The next one of my picks for where to travel in 2022 is another former home. I left Taiwan in 2020, half a year into the pandemic, as a result of a soon-to-expire visa. When I did, I made a vow to the friends I’d made there, as to the beautiful land itself: We will meet again when the world is free again. In particular, I hope to be able to attend 2022’s Taipei Pride.
I haven’t been to South America in far too long. While I’ve decided to push Antarctica to my 40th birthday, in 2025, next year will see me visit Patagonia. I’ll probably fly to my beloved city of Santiago, traveling southward to Torres del Paine, before crossing over the Andes to El Calafate, Argentina, where I’ll trek amid glaciers before ending in Buenos Aires.
Will Travel Be “Back to Normal” in 2022?
Now, let’s come out of the weeds a bit. Given the deep dive we’ve just done, you may be asking yourself “is he writing research paper for me, or doling out travel advice?”. As I referenced a few paragraphs up, I do believe travel will be closer to normal in 2022 than most are expecting, because I think the definition of “success” against the pandemic will have changed. Current, utopian thinking about “Zero Covid” and “elimination” will give way to more sober perspectives.
Indeed, with widespread vaccination, as well as therapeutics like Merck’s in-development oral treatment, I’m confident that if you start brainstorming where to travel in 2022 now, you will be able to take your trip as planned. This isn’t just because of medical good news, either. The reality is that the entire world is ready to be happy and feel free again—the “roar” of the 2020s is going to make the 1920s look like a funeral procession!
Other FAQ About Post-Pandemic Travel
Will I need a vaccine passport to travel after Covid-19?
Initially, countries may require proof of vaccination against Covid-19 in order to bypass quarantine requirements and entry ban. However, as the acute phase of the pandemic wanes (which is to say, the disease is circulating less and better treatments applicable earlier in its progression come online), I don’t think countries will care as much about the threat of importation; you may simply have your temperature taken, and be asked to monitor your health.
When can we travel to Europe again?
The EU, with some exceptions (namely Iceland), remains closed to third-country travelers as of April 2021. However, I expect that many countries will lift their bans to vaccinated travelers this summer, particularly tourist hubs such as Spain, Greece and perhaps Italy. For travelers who can’t get a vaccine or don’t agree with the concept of a vaccine passport, 2022 will provide your next opportunity to enter as you did in the “before time/”
Do I need to quarantine after I’ve been vaccinated?
Every country is different, but the US CDC no longer recommends vaccinated travelers quarantine after possible exposure to Covid-19, as of April 2021. As more and more countries permit their citizens to travel abroad, I do think vaccination will be a ticket to quarantine exemption. However, you’ll want to verify this with your country’s authorities to avoid a nasty surprise on the way back in.
The Bottom Line
It’s time to start thinking about where to travel in 2022. While some will feel comfortable making reservations and putting concrete plans in place, others will want to stick to research and inspiration—both of these are equally valid places to be. What I will say, as an expert on travel and as a passionately informed observer of the pandemic’s progression as a medical and economic event, is that I expect freedom of movement to be largely restored by 2022, and certainly as the year goes on. As we all roll up our sleeves and get our Covid vaccines, we’re not just protecting ourselves and the people we love from a deadly virus—we’re taking a crucial step toward a future with more travel than ever before!