New research from InsureandGo Travel Insurance reveals that two thirds of people (67%) say the experience of a scorching-hot summer last year has changed the way they are thinking about when and where to travel this year – with only a third of holidaymakers (33%) saying they will stick with the summer holiday period and adjust to the prospect of extreme weather.

After a year when 12 European countries broke monthly temperature records, as the continent recorded its hottest ever summer in 2022[1] , InsureandGo asked a representative sample of 2,103 adults how the prospect of rising temperatures would impact their holiday planning for 2023.

Change of season

Nationally, 44% of respondents said they are thinking about changing their travel season – with 36% now more likely to holiday in the spring or autumn months, when temperatures are cooler. A further 8% of people said they would even think about switching their main family holiday from summer to the winter months.

Change of destination

24% of survey respondents said they would stick with the summer period for a main overseas holiday but they would now look for cooler destinations in order to avoid soaring temperatures. For these people, Scandinavia (18%), Northern Europe (15%), Canada (21%) and Ireland (17%) emerged as holiday destinations that would now be considered.

Age group variations

When it came to the age of traveller, there was a clear divide in approach between the older and younger generations. For those under 45 – and for families still bound by school holiday dates – there was a greater emphasis on looking for cooler destinations to avoid soaring summer temperatures (31%). In contrast, older travellers over 55 were those most likely to consider switching holiday timings to off-peak periods, in order to avoid both the crowds and also the higher temperatures (53%).

In five UK regions – London (33%), South East (33%), South West (28%), Scotland (27%) and the East (27%) – only between a quarter and a third of people were pressing ahead with the usual destinations for a summer holiday. People in the East (43%) and South West (42%) were most likely to consider a switch to a cooler time of year, whereas people in the Midlands were most likely to be drawing up a short-list of cooler countries to visit (27%).

These survey findings make clear that climate change is directly beginning to have an impact on people’s holiday plans. It is likely that the soaring temperatures people experienced in Europe last year was a game-changer and, for many, the climate penny may have dropped. Whilst Southern European hotspots remain popular for some people, the majority are now considering new options for 2023. Those people governed by school holiday timings are more likely to be looking at cooler countries – while older travellers, those that are free to travel when they want, are more likely to now be thinking about taking a holiday in the spring, autumn or even winter months.

The underlying positive news for the sector is that confidence in travel remains strong and, given both COVID and the cost-of-living crisis, this is something for the travel sector to celebrate. The elephant in the room, though, is the ticking clock of the climate emergency. There is evidence that people’s holidays plans are and will continue to change as a result of this, and thought also needs to be given to how people can travel in a sustainable way.

Chris Rolland

CEO, InsureandGo

[1] The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)