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Spring break has long been the epitome of a de-stress, let-loose, get-away-from-it all vacation — regardless of age. Given the continued pandemic roller-coaster, we wanted to dig into new trends of those who are planning a spring break getaway in just a few short months. To find out why, where, and how people plan to spring break, we surveyed 9,041 VacationRenter users from around the globe and asked them to reveal their upcoming travel preferences.

Read on for the resulting six travel trends we’re seeing as we look toward Spring Break 2022.  

Beach-Bound and Chill

More than half of those surveyed plan to head to “beach or coastal” destinations for their getaways. Since traditional beachy sojourns tend to allow for ample relaxation — not to mention social distancing — this trend aligns with the 42% of respondents who say they are traveling to unwind. Party-hard college crowd destinations, like Daytona, aren’t as popular. Instead, folks are opting for easy-breezy and family-friendly spots. Currently, top searches on VacationRenter include an array of coastal holiday havens that trend toward chill vibe over the crowded, DJ-thumping scene:

In general, outdoorsy spring vacations are leading the charge amongst VacationRenter users. Those choosing “adventure or expedition” destinations and “ski” vacations along with “beach or coastal” preferences make up a whopping 91% of those surveyed. In addition to the seaside destinations (most of which have thrill-seeking potential including surfing or helicopter tours) VacationRenter searches also include the following mountain destinations as top picks for spring 2022:

 
For those not chasing the surf or snow, the formerly (pre-pandemic) popular “party or festival” category had a showing of just 9% in our survey. Given that we are now entering the third pandemic spring, this hit to big-fest hubs is unsurprising given event cancellations and continued coronavirus-wariness amongst would-be partiers. Nevertheless, New Orleans and Miami continue to crop up in the top 20 destinations of VacationRenter’s current searches. This plucky “laissez les bons temps rouler” mentality may indicate pandemic fatigue or simply a desire to visit some party-famous destinations without partaking in the big crowds.    

Spontaneity Endures

The last-minute travel trend we saw at the end of 2021 continues into spring 2022. The convergence of flexible cancellations, ever-evolving pandemic variants, and remote work/school environments may be fueling this ongoing spontaneity among travelers. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed expect to book their stays just one to three weeks before arrival. That said, almost a third of respondents are making their travel plans three or more months in advance. This relatively incremental move toward advance planning reflects some vacationers’ efforts to coordinate the more time-consuming logistics of group travel, even if those pods are petite. 

Mix-It-Up Motivation 

Although our survey’s top reason for spring break vacationing is to “unwind and relax,” nearly a quarter of our respondents say they are vacationing to spend “quality time with family or friends.” This traveling with loved ones may come after months or years of separation, or it may reflect a sustained pod-gathering effort. Either way, pandemic protocols certainly continue to play a role. Not far behind in our survey results, the simple desire “just to get away” similarly reflects pandemic-hued motivation coupled with cabin fever. With remote work and/or school and frequently squelched opportunities to socialize, the hankering to mix it up continues an upward trend.

Expanding Horizons

Whatever the motivation, even if it’s just to escape the grind, 62% of those surveyed plan to explore a new destination. That pioneering spirit could mean folks are splurging on a more complex getaway, such as planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Maui versus the annual drive to the closest beach. It might even involve crossing borders, given that 50% of our respondents say they would venture abroad if regulations permit international travel.

Keeping it Small

Throughout 2021, the number of individuals traveling in groups ebbed and flowed along with changing protocols for gathering. As we look at 2022 VacationRenter searches, specifically those targeting February through April, travelers seem to be trending toward intimate spring break getaways. Currently, the most popular group size is four, followed by two. Larger group sizes trail these pairing-dominant searches significantly.  

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Elbow Room, Please

Wherever the road (or airplane) takes them, VacationRenter travelers continue to seek out single-family accommodations for their getaways. Houses and villas top recent search results, reflecting that independent, small-group lodging trend. Similarly, our survey responses show a strong preference for house or apartment rental, at 31% and 29% respectively. What plays into this trend? In the time of Omicron, many travelers opt for lodging that provides a buffer zone from others. Having a kitchen and living space gives vacationers the flexibility to venture out among others, or to keep their distance when they desire. 

Methodology and Limitations

We conducted a survey of 9,041 VacationRenter users, age 18 and older, from around the world and asked them to answer questions about their travel plans for spring break 2022. The data are not weighted and are based on self-reporting/ With self-reported data, there are limitations, such as over- or underreporting of information as well as exaggerated numbers and answers.