Updated December 4, 2023
You may have seen the term Revenge Travel. But you're probably wondering, "What is it and why is it a thing?"
What is revenge travel?
Revenge travel has become the go-to term for the understanding that life is short, and we aren’t guaranteed that we’ll get to do the things we want to. Many trips and plans were canceled in 2020 and 2021, and people are trying to make up for it.
But they aren’t just rebooking canceled or postponed trips.
They’re going bigger. Longer. Upgrading flights. Making reservations at the resort they’ve drooled over on Instagram.
Why revenge travel?
"Revenge travel is a media buzzword that originated in 2021 when the world began to reopen, and people decided to make up for lost time," says Erika Richter, vice president of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA).
It really comes from a place of not knowing what to call the post-pandemic travel mood and demand
Instead it’s a feeling of making up for lost time. Deciding that we’ve waited long enough, and it’s time to get back out there.
Instead of just taking a weekend trip, people are booking a week with upgraded flights, spa appointments, and dinners at Michelin starred restaurants.
If they had been planning a week-long cruise, they’re extending it to a two-week cruise, or even back-to-back sailings with upgraded rooms. Families who haven’t been able to see each other are taking multi-generational trips to give them time to reconnect.
Is revenge travel a good thing?
I’m inclined to say yes. Normally when there’s a dip in travel demand, whether it’s due to an economic downturn, security incident, or other phenomenon that we’ve seen before, travel is slow to return.
The pandemic took a huge toll on many industries, but travel was one of the hardest hit. From top to bottom, CEOs to hotel dishwashers, the industry was suddenly shut down. No one went unscathed.
The expectation at first was that it would be short lived. It soon became apparent that wasn’t the case. With two years of an almost total shutdown, a slow recovery would spell the end of many travel companies.
But the revenge travel movement changed the outlook. People are not only willing to travel again, they’re returning in droves and pushing demand higher than it was in 2019, which was a banner year for travel sales.
While the term may sound negative, there’s really nothing bad about it. It’s not that people feel a destination or company owes them something and they’re taking their revenge.
Instead it’s revenge against staying put and accepting the status quo.
Going bigger and better
Not only is there pent-up demand to travel, many people’s travel budgets haven’t been used for the past couple of years so they have more to spend on a trip.
Plus more people can take their work with them, allowing them to spend longer in a destination without having to use up their vacation time. Many hotels and resorts are actively courting these newly mobile workers, offering reduced rates for longer term stays and including benefits like laundry, conferencing facilities, and IT support to make a long term stay easier.
The Bottom Line
Revenge travel is here to stay, at least for the next few years. That means you can expect higher occupancy rates at hotels and more full flights, which translates to higher prices. There’s also still a shortage of staff in many travel and hospitality companies.
I recommend booking farther out than you may normally if there’s a “can’t miss” experience or destination on your list. Also consider taking that bucket-list trip that you’ve been considering.
If the past few years have taught us anything it’s that we don’t know when things can suddenly change.