A look back at the most pivotal moments in travel from 2022

A look back at the most pivotal moments in travel from 2022

A look back at the most pivotal moments in travel from 2022

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Border reopenings, summer travel chaos, the Queen’s passing, the return of live events, and more… We look back at the most pivotal moments that impacted the world of travel in 2022.


From countries dropping restrictions, to the Queen’s Jubilee the Ukraine War, these are the global events and pivotal moments that rocked the travel industry in 2022.

COVID-19 pandemic

In January, the USA recorded one million new COVID-19 cases for the first time, while the UK passed 150,000 COVID-19 deaths, the first country in Europe to do so. In March, a study by Washington University estimated the true global death toll from COVID-19 to be 18.2 million people. The global rollout of vaccines continued, with Austria becoming the first country in Europe to bring into force a vaccine mandate for all. By April, around 5.1 billion people worldwide had received at least one vaccine shot. With vaccines came border reopenings and as restrictions lifted, we began to see more people travelling again.

Border reopenings

Former UK PM Boris Johnson eased COVID-19 restrictions in January, saying the wave of infections had peaked. Meanwhile, Australia’s international border reopened to vaccinated tourists in February, after 704 days in lockdown. By May, New Zealand also reopened its borders to international visitors from more than 60 countries after being closed for two years. Over in the US, President Joe Biden said “we still have a problem with Covid” but “the pandemic is over” in a TV interview in September.

Read more: 8 European travel destinations that have lifted all Covid restrictions

Summer travel chaos

All of the border reopenings at the start of the year lead to the summer of travel chaos. As millions of travellers returned to the airports in droves, the understaffed and underprepared airlines struggled with the onslaught. Thousands of flights were cancelled, delayed or overbooked, luggage was lost, queues snaked for hours, and travellers and airline staff alike were caught up in a frustrating shambles. Here’s to a recovered airline industry in summer 2023!

Read more: How to remove (some of) the stress of air travel this summer

Queen Elizabeth II

In June, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, becoming the first British Monarch to mark 70 years on the throne. The celebrations were a four-day extravaganza with military parades at Buckingham Palace and events all over the country.

On September 8, Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle, as the UK’s longest-serving monarch. Over a quarter of a million people queued to see Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin as she lay in state for four days at Westminster Hall in London. Thousands more lined the streets on September 19, the day of the Queen’s state funeral, one of the most watched television events in world history.

Read more: 11 of the most pivotal moments from the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth

Ukraine War

The Russian invasion of Ukraine became the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II. It has caused the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians, the displacement of millions of Ukrainians, international sanctions, and the exclusion of Russia from major events. The war has caused the price of natural gas and oil to soar, leading to global disruptions, including in the travel industry. Russia, Ukraine, and surrounding countries like Moldova, Belarus, and Poland have also suffered economically from a lack of tourism due to the ongoing war.

New additions to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list

UNESCO announced its new additions to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list on November 30. The French Baguette, tea practices in China, and the oral traditions of calling camels in the Middle East are now all protected cultural practices. Saudi Arabia also got their first UNESCO World Heritage site, with status granted to the remarkable Tomb of Lihyan Son of Kuza in Hegra.

Heading back to the moon

After several problems and postponements, NASA’s moon rocket finally blasted off on November 16. It’s all part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to have Americans back on the moon by late 2025.

Read more: Travel in 2022 is complex: We have the antidote


2022 was the year that travel returned in (almost) full force and there were plenty of records, anniversaries, and pivotal moments in travel to celebrate. From the first all-Black Everest expedition to the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, here are some of the most impressive feats in 2022.

World’s first hydrogen engine plane

Rolls Royce and easyJet announced they successfully completed the world’s first run of a hydrogen jet engine on November 29. It’s hoped the new technology will make waves in the future of sustainable flights and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the aviation industry.

Read more: Are sustainable flights almost within our reach? Insight investigates

Nepal: The first all-Black Everest expedition

On May 12, the first all-Black Everest Expedition, including seven members and eight Nepali guides, made history by summiting Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.

First all-private space flight launches

In 2022, we inched ever closer to expanding our bucket list to space. On April 8, the first all-private space flight, Axiom-1 launched its journey to the International Space Station.

Vietnam: World's longest glassed-bottomed bridge

On April 29, not long after Vietnam country reopened to visitors, they also opened the world’s longest glassed-bottomed bridge in Moc Chau Island mountain park and resort. Known as the Bach Long (White Dragon), it’s a whopping 632 metres long and sets a new Guinness World Record.

Belgium: Youngest woman to fly solo around the world

On January 20, 19-year-old Zara Rutherford became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, after landing at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport, Belgium.

Poland: European Union's tallest building completed

October 26 marked the completion of the European Union’s tallest building. Known as the Varso Tower, it stands at 310 metes high in Warsaw, Poland.

World's population reaches 8 billion

On November 15, the world’s population reached eight billion. The world hit seven billion in 2011, but we’re now expected to hit nine billion in 15 years in 2037. That’s a lot of new travellers and people to connect with around the world!

Washington D.C., USA: Centennial of the Lincoln Memorial

The Lincon Memorial monument celebrated its centennial on May 30 2022. Visited by millions every year, the monument honours the 16th US President, Abraham Lincoln.


From volcano tourism and big cats to the rewilding movement and climate change treaties, these are some of the most pivotal moments in nature travel in 2022.

Scotland: Rewilding movement

Natural travel is booming, so it makes sense that the rewilding movement is rising in popularity too. Rewilding is the process of recovering lost plant and animal species. Scotland has committed to becoming the first rewilded country in the world, and are working to bring back forests that have been lost for centuries.

Read more: 11 fascinating biodiverse locations you can visit with Insight

Asia: The Year of the Tiger

2022 was the Chinese Year of the Tiger. It also marked the deadline for Tx2, an agreement made in 2010 by 13 countries to double the global tiger population by 2022. Since then, India has approved 14 new tiger conservation sites.

Iceland: Reykjanes Peninsula erupts

After lying dormant for 800 years, the Reykjanes Peninsula erupted twice in less than a year The most recent eruption was in August, drawing thousands of volcano tourists to see the bubbling lava fields. Volcano tourism has surged in popularity in the last few years, with more than 1,500 active volcanoes around the world.

Hawaii: World's largest active volcano erupts

In more volcano news, Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano erupted on Hawaii Island on November 27. It was the first eruption in almost 40 years.

India: Cheetahs reintroduced

After going extinct 70 years ago, cheetahs were reintroduced to Kuno National Park in India, from Namibia, on September 17.

Landmark plastic pollution treaty

On March 2, the UN agreed to create a legally binding plastic pollution treaty by 2024 after talks in Nairobi, Kenya. The treaty will require countries to clean up their plastic pollution. It’s said to be the most important environmental accord since the 2015 Paris Agreement. It will go a long way to preserving our planet for future generations to come.

UN help vulnerable countries with climate change

On November 20, the UN COP27 summit agreed to establish a fund to help vulnerable countries access financial assistance to adapt and recover from climate change. The agreement is hailed as a historic acknowledgement of global climate injustice, since some of the countries most affected by climate change have done the least to contribute to it. For example, Pakistan has contributed less than 1% of the world’s carbon emissions, but has been hit with billions of dollars in damage from catastrophic floods, worsened by climate change.


One of the happiest parts of 2022 was the proper return of live events. From the return of Wimbledon in England to Pride festivals and music concerts from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Dua Lipa, every event was thrilling and emotional after a two-year hiatus. Here are some of the most memorable.

Read more: 9 of the best places to celebrate Pride around the world

France: Tour de France Femmes

In July, the Tour de France made history with the inaugural Tour de France Femmes. With daily live television coverage for the first time, the event is sure to draw thousands of cycling fans and tourists.

London: ABBA tours again

You can dance and you can jive – and after two years in lockdown, everyone was certainly keen to have the time of their life at the ABBA Voyage. This unique digital reunion concert of the Swedish pop icons kicked off on May 26 at a custom-built arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Birmingham, UK: The Commonwealth Games

The 2022 Commonwealth Games were held in Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8. With 286 events across 19 sports, it was the first time in its history that the Games had more medal events for women than men. It was also the first time athletes were allowed to bring Pride flags to the podium. With 72 countries taking part in the Games, this was a massive event for the country.

Music festivals

The iconic Glastonbury festival returned in Pilton, England on June 24. The stars came out in full force with Kendrick Lamar, Paul McCartney, Crowded House, Noel Gallagher, Dianna Ross, Lorde, and more headlining the event. On April 15, the Coachella Valley music festival returned after a two-year hiatus. Hundreds of thousands of music fans flocked to the valley to see headline acts like Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd.


From dinosaur fossils to ancient artworks, these are the pivotal discoveries and moments in travel that will undoubtedly draw curious travellers to the remarkable corners of our world.

Italy: Estrucan and Roman bronze statues

On November 8, archaeologists discovered the most significant collection Etruscan and Roman bronze statues in more than 50 years. They were found at an ancient spa in San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy.

North Dakota, USA: Dinosaur remains

On April 6, scientists at the Tanis fossil site in North Dakota discovered some unique dinosaur remains. It’s believed these dinosaurs were killed on the day the asteroid, which lead to their extinction, hit the earth 66 million years ago.

Western Australia: World’s largest plant

On June 7, a study revealed that the Shark Bay sea grass on the Western Australian coast, may be the largest plant in the world. After cloning itself for 4,500 years, it now covers around 180 kilometres of sea floor.

Israel: Oldest decipherable sentence

On November 9, archaeologists uncovered the oldest decipherable sentence on an ivory comb, dating back to 1,700 B.C. The sentence said “May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.” in Canaanite script from Tel Lachish, Israel.

Antarctica: Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance

Ernest Shackleton and his crew all survived when their ship, Endurance, sunk off the coast of Antarctica in 1915. Now, the ship has been rediscovered almost 3.5km down in the Weddell Sea, by the Endurance22 expedition on March 5.

Iraq: Ancient artworks

Archaeologists have discovered ancient artworks in an ancient palatial gate destroyed by ISIS. They found the artworks behind a sealed door last opened around 2,600 years ago. The seven carved stone panels date back to 700 B.C. and likely depict the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s military campaigns. In May, a lost 3,400 year-old Bronze Age city was unearthed on the Tigris River in Iraq. The city is thought to be part of the Mittani Empire and the discovery included 100 cuneiform tabletes.

What were your most pivotal moments in travel from 2022?