Why 2022 is the year of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Trips) – here’s where to go

Thought 2022 was the Year of the Tiger? Wrong. While Chinese astrology might suggest that the big cat is in the spotlight right now, when it comes to the world of travel, it is undeniably the year of the GOAT: the “greatest of all trips”.

Tigers, say the Chinese, are energetic and fearless, hungry for excitement, the king of the beasts. Well, the GOAT is the king of the holiday. Similarly magnificent and thrill-seeking, GOATs are those once-in-a-lifetime adventures; the big, bold escapes into a reopening world; the passion projects that simply cannot – will not – be put off any longer. GOATs even have an undercurrent of the tiger’s fierce bravado: after two years of restricted movement playing into our deepest fears of missing out, of not having much time on Earth and of wasting what time we have left, many travelers are feeling frustrated, fully fired up and ready to pounce.

“We are certainly seeing clients wanting to take ‘revenge’ on the pandemic and wanting to make their next holiday really count,” says Kerry Golds, managing director of Abercrombie & Kent. This shaking of the fists at Covid is manifesting as a desire to travel soon and to travel well, says Golds, with bucket-list experiences like gorilla-trekking in Uganda and luxury cruises down the Nile proving popular.

Indeed, GOATs come in many forms. They’re not reserved for Bear Grylls types. Adventure travel is for all sorts and all ages. Here, we’ve selected a delicious array of incredible trips to suit active explorers but also inquisitive families, solo sightseers and those of a certain age who like their travel discoveries with a good dollop of comfort. These range from paddling Canada’s Desolation Sound to sailing into a barely-visited Indian Ocean paradise, and playing cowboys with the kids in Montana to trekking the mountains of Nepal (in style).

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Sounds appealing, right? Many people – especially those who retired in the last couple of years – are desperate to play catch-up while they’re fit and healthy enough to actively explore the world. This is compounded by a back-of-brain whisper: what if another pandemic happens and we’re locked in again? The time is now. And that is why adventure travel – particularly the glorious GOATs, packed with new experiences, physical challenges and eye-opening encounters – is likely to bounce back more quickly than simple sun-seeking jollies abroad. Those infected with an innate wanderlust don’t just enjoy travel, they need it; even see it as part of their sense of self.

We’ve become used to a broader array of options. When the Queen took to the throne in 1952, traveling abroad was a privilege for the few – in that decade, only 1 per cent of Britons had ever holidayed overseas. For most, “adventure” constituted a whiz on the Blackpool Big Dipper. Seventy years on, following two years that felt like holidaying in the 1950s, our brains are recalibrating back to the future and craving the full gamut of experiences to which we’d become accustomed. And we are ravenous.

“Early on in the pandemic, we saw a spike in searches for big, adventure trips such as trekking to Everest Base Camp and climbing Kilimanjaro,” says Brian Young, MD EMEA of G Adventures. “As travel reopened, this interest turned into sales, with what we’re calling the ‘carpe diem’ effect – travelers who would have put off these trips in the past are looking to seize the day. January was the biggest booking month for G Adventures since the pandemic began, and we saw our Active travel style, which includes our big, physically demanding trips, rising to our third most popular style among British travellers.”

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Another great way to do it is to splash the cash. “We’ve noticed average spend has increased by as much as 50 per cent as travelers seek not only to do longer trips, but to do them in more style,” says Jim Louth, director of Undiscovered Destinations, which specializes in excellently out- there places. “For many customers the experience is more important than ever. After such a horrible time, and having spent very little on travel over the last couple of years, the budget for some is much higher than normal.”

We’re not quite out of the woods yet; there are still fluctuating rules and lingering uncertainties. Which is an exceptionally good reason for putting your travels in the hands of an expert – the security of booking with a knowledgeable tour operator has never been more important. But the year is beginning to feel largely positive, and as adventure travel experiences a resurgence, we reveal how to have your greatest adventure ever with the 20 biggest trips for 2022. It’s time to get your GOAT.

active adventurers

Paddle into the wilderness


Finally play out that Crusoe fantasy (albeit in less tropical climates) at Cabana Desolation. This “kayak-in” wilderness resort comprises just six sustainably-built cabins, outdoor showers and an open-air café on an otherwise uninhabited island on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. The paddle there is half the fun; then spend days exploring the inlets, waterfalls, wildlife-filled bays and mountainous backdrops of Desolation Sound. You can also snorkel with starfish, hike into the rainforest, swim with bioluminescence and generally detox from the world.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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