Going into 2023 there's plenty of reasons for holidaymakers to be cheerful - and even reason to believe this could be travel's best year yet. So if you haven't ticked anywhere off your bucket list for the last few years, it's time to get out there and make memories again.
1. More routes means more places to explore
Airlines and travel operators have spent the last two years finding new routes and new destinations, which means there's never been a better time to get out there and explore.
By the end of 2023 city breaks in Eastern Europe made up eight of the twenty biggest risers. The fact that Eastern Europe is full of beautiful cities to explore has much to do with this, no argument there, but its also because new direct routes have opened up making city breaks there cheap and convenient. Other new routes include package holidays to Dakar in Senegal, a great alternative to the Canary Islands, direct flights to beautiful Santiago de Chile, and lots of new direct routes to the Caribbean.
2023 (and 2024, which is already on sale) looks even better for new routes. At Gatwick, BA is flying direct to Oranjestad in Aruba, Georgetown in Guyana, and Port of Spain in Trinidad. It's also possible to fly direct from Gatwick to Kigali in Rwanda - much in the news, so possibly worth a visit to see what all the fuss is about.
Wizzair is flying direct to Amman in Jordan three times a week from Luton. Jet2 is opening up Rovaniemi in Finland from both Bristol and Manchester, Tivat in Montenegro, gateway to Kotor Bay, and Bourgas in Bulgaria.
2. You're in good company
If you're going away in 2023, so is everyone else! So you're in good company.
We asked 1000 UK holidaymakers about their travels in 2022 and their plans for 2023. Most – 44% – had only been abroad once in 2022, but planned to get away at least twice in 2023, with 10% planning four holidays, doubling on 2022.
People plan to splash out more on their trips too. Just 11% expect to spend less than £200 per person per trip (down from 17% in 2022), and there's a big rise in trips for more than £1000 per person, up from 20% to 25%.
3. Everywhere's open
The Covid pandemic that closed the world throughout much of 2020 and 2021 still, very sadly, continues to claim lives. However, the travel restrictions that marked Covid's first two years are a thing of the past - even New Zealand, the last zero-Covid holdout, is open to visitors again and cruises have dropped their restrictions. 2023 will be the first year since 2019 that the world is fully open to explore, including Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
If you want reassurance that we won't see a sudden new raft of Covid travel restrictions, bear in mind the new Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, is chair of the Covid Research Group, the group of Conservative MPs most opposed to lockdowns and other restrictions. The new government couldn't have sent a clearer message than his appointment that it likely won't support any new travel restrictions next year.
4. You can get seven weeks off in 2023 for just 19 days' holiday
It's true - read our guide and book now to get in first before everyone else at the office spots the trick.
7 weeks off in 2023
For just 19 days' annual leave you can book 49 days off work
5. The pound has recovered from October's shocks
The pound crashed after the mini-budget in October, leaving holidays more expensive (for a while a pound wouldn't buy you a whole dollar if you changed it at the airport!). But things have stabilised again now. The pound is weaker than it was in 2016 or even last year, but is now on the up so you can look forward to splashing out once you're at the beach this summer.
If you're looking for the places your pound will go furthest, the currencies in Turkey, Sri Lanka and Ghana have fared especially poorly in 2022, so head to one of those to stretch that spending money even further.
Recession-proof your trip
Everything you need to get away on a budget in 2023
6. It might even be cheaper (and nicer) to go away this winter than stay at home
Some commentators are predicting a rough winter for the UK, with energy shortages and higher prices. According to some calculations it could actually be cheaper to just turn off the lights and the heating for a month in January and spend that money on an all-inclusive somewhere cheap and sunny. For example, easyJet holidays launched a month-long, all-inclusive winter package to Egypt for £650pp that they claim is cheaper than the bills you'd run up staying at home for a month this winter!
7. 2022's "travel chaos" was always overstated, and won't come back in 2023
Some holidays were disrupted this year when the government suddenly dropped all of the old Covid travel rules without warning, leaving their own passport services, as well as to some extent airports and airlines, understaffed for the extra demand.
The press had a field day calling these flight delays "chaos". However, when we asked travellers themselves, only 5% said they'd actually missed a flight due to airport queues and the flight take-off data showed 94% of flights taking off and landing as normal at the peak of the so-called chaos, compared to 97% on a normal day. Still, some people certainly had their travel plans disrupted and it's only fun to be stuck at the airport if you've booked one of our hotels or lounges to kick back in while you wait.
In 2023, the same surprises won't catch the government or the travel industry off guard. Everyone knows people are going to want to fly in record numbers and everyone is staffing up accordingly. So you can book with confidence your 2023 flights will take off as planned.
8. The disruptions have passed, but the flexibility remains
After travel was locked down in 2020, and again in 2021, travellers got used to demanding complete flexibility in their bookings, and holiday providers got used to offering it. After all, no-one's going to book a holiday if the government might swoop in again and close the skies.
That risk has now evaporated - see above for the likelihood of the new transport minister imposing Covid restrictions any time soon. But still the flexibility remains. Book a holiday, hotel, flight or your holiday extras and you'll still find everyone offering flexible cancellation terms - so everything's open again, but the flexibility to cancel is still built in, making 2023 possibly the most convenient time to book a holiday we've ever seen.
Need to go back and make a change? You can with Flextras
9. Hospitality needs the money and will go the extra mile to make you happy
All those extra people have to be paid for, and that means hotels, restaurants and other tourist businesses are going to need your money. They'll go the extra mile this year to make you happy - so get out there and make the most of it!
Have a good trip - winter sun
Best winter sun destinations from the Holiday Extras Good Trips Index