(CNN) — As more and more countries reopen their borders to avid tourists, a trendy new expression has emerged on social media: revenge trips.
“Revenge” generally has a negative connotation, which contradicts the joyful, 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 expecting a specific destination to make up for it. Unless, say, Romania stole your girlfriend or Peru had you fired from your job, it sounds strange to take revenge in one place.
Perhaps “revenge travel” could be interpreted as taking revenge on the pandemic, or on Covid itself.
No really. What is it?
“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,” said Erika Richter, vice president of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA).
Part of the problem is that there isn’t one right way to describe the current mood of travel around the world. “Post-pandemic travel” is not entirely accurate, as the pandemic is not over in many places. Different countries and regions operate on different timelines, 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 travel.”
“It’s another way of saying, ‘Hey, life is short. I want to book that trip. I want to spend more time with family. I want to connect with humanity and with nature. I want to explore the world and seek 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 prefix ‘revenge’ fits what travel should be about,” said Rory Boland, editor of Which? magazine, tells CNN Travel. He calls ‘vengeance travel’ an ‘ugly term’.
However, he acknowledges that the phrase is clearly related to people.
“What it’s trying to capture, I think, is the desire many people have to travel again, see new places and meet new people, after a period that felt static and gloomy.”
The people who do it
Whether they use the term “revenge travel” or not, many travelers report taking their first major trip since the start of the pandemic.
Deborah Campagnaro, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, is one of them.
She retired from her job as an investment services firm of more than 30 years during the pandemic and was looking forward to going on a big celebratory vacation with her husband. The couple went on a group trip to Nepal in 2016 to hike the Annapurna Circuit, a challenging trek through some of the highest peaks in the country.
They liked the trip so much that they planned to go back to Nepal, this time on a modified itinerary. Pandemic-related closures and weather conditions forced them to postpone several times. Finally they have confirmed tickets and bookings for September 2022.
Campagnaro and her husband enjoy extra time and experiences rather than luxury resort stays. They stay in Nepal for a whole month and have added a few days to the lakeside town of Pokhara as a treat.
“That wouldn’t have happened before,” she says of the outing. “We’re just doing it now because we can. It’s very, very nice to have some rest there after a hike.”
Rhode Island resident Brittney Darcy is also looking forward to a voyage sunk by the pandemic.
The 26-year-old has been dreaming of going to Paris since she was a little girl and watching her favorite movie, ‘Sabrina’. But the planned summer 2020 trip with her boyfriend was canceled when Covid broke out.
Now she’s finally rescheduled her dream vacation – but with more layovers and some upgrades. Instead of five days in Paris, she goes abroad for two weeks in France and Italy.
“I went on a cross-country skiing trip during Covid but it wasn’t enough and I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and Italy and have never been there. We’re young and why not?” she told CNN.
The money she saved from not traveling for two years is spent on a number of vacation upgrades. Rather than a layover in Iceland or Ireland, Darcy and her boyfriend paid more for a direct flight from Boston.
Darcy admits she’d never heard of the term “revenge travel,” but once she did, it was a perfect term to apply to her travels around Europe.
“Covid has made me less frugal. We only live once, so I might as well spend my money on experiences.”
Making up for lost time
One thing is clear: As vaccines roll out and doors open again, people around the world are eager to get back on the road.
Travel booking company Expedia maintains online search data related to travel and tourism. In 2021, the highest increase in average search traffic while traveling – 10% – came in May, the week after the European Union voted to renew their contract with Pfizer and approve the vaccine for use in adolescents.
Expedia’s survey found that 60% of consumers had plans to travel domestically by 2022 and 27% to travel internationally.
And many of these travelers are willing to spend more money on a vacation than they would have done in the past.
Staying home for two years means that some people have saved money and can now spend on a more luxurious hotel, a first-class plane ticket or a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In addition, more and more companies have permanently changed their remote working policies after the pandemic.
For some people, working from home doesn’t necessarily mean being at home – it might mean trying an Airbnb in another country and spending several weeks there combining work and travel.
So call it “revenge travel” or don’t do it. Anyway, it’s clear that people have changed their travel mindset 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 joining the trend is Christie Hudson, Expedia’s head of public relations, who participated in the company’s travel research.
“Honestly I wasn’t very surprised [by the survey results] simply because the findings resonated so strongly with how I feel personally,” she says. “During my last weekend getaway, I booked multiple spa appointments and upgraded our flights to first class. I felt I deserved it.”
Seychelles image via Getty