Google Search Trends show how travel has changed
over the last decade

As 2020 fast approaches, we used Google Search Trends data to look at how the travel industry has changed over the last decade.

It is incredible to think that we are about to enter 2020 – just where has the last 10 years gone exactly?!

So much has changed in the last 10 years – when 2010 began Instagram didn’t exist, the thought of Donald Trump being the US president had never entered our minds, and flossing was simply something your dentist recommended doing twice a week.

When it comes to the travel industry specifically, things were very different too. While this year we sadly said goodbye to one of the world’s largest travel agents, Thomas Cook, back in 2010 travel agents still proudly lined the high street displaying the latest travel brochures, and while it was possible to book holidays online many people still largely relied on the assistance of their local travel agent.

Technology has also changed our travel experiences considerably over the last 10 years. Back in 2010 smartphones were still a new technology and expensive roaming charges and lack of free WiFi meant we used our phones much less while on holiday, instead of heading to the local internet café – and given that Instagram didn’t yet exist, travel selfies weren’t being posted every 10 minutes while away anyway.

Popular holiday types have also changed dramatically in the last decade, with 18 – 30 holidays being all but a thing of the past while solo travel, staycations, and babymoons have shone through as new travel trends.

We headed over to Google Trends to analyse the search popularity of different travel factors from 1st January 2010 to present, to see just how the world of travel has changed over the last decade

Internet Cafés

Internet Cafe Google Search Trend

Back in 2010, scoping out the nearest internet café was one of the first things you did when arriving in your holiday destination, and a last-minute trip to print out your boarding passes was pretty much a given. These days with the proliferation of free WiFi, no roaming charges in EU countries and the use of e – documents for boarding passes, the need for internet cafés
has decreased considerably.

Travel Agents

Travel Agents Google Search trends

While in 2010 the option to book holidays online was there, many people’s go – to option for booking their next vacay was still the travel agent. While the continued increase in online travel options brings a host of benefits for consumers – from finding cheaper deals to hand-selecting our own unique travel experiences, the fall in the popularity of travel agents does come with a tinge of sadness, particularly felt this year with the shocking closure of Thomas Cook.

Roaming Charges

Before the days of free WiFi, the cost of roaming charges meant most people tried to avoid using their phone entirely while abroad in fear of returning home to a crippling phone bill. Now with WiFi available across almost every hotel, restaurant, bar and visitor attraction, the concern over roaming charges is almost forgotten entirely. Additionally, within the EU roaming charges were scrapped in June 2017, which ties in with a peak in search volume for this phrase during that period.

Exchange Rates

Exchange Rates Google Search Trend

Another concern which has decreased for travellers is that of exchange rates. Back in 2010, the most common way of using cash abroad involved changing money or using travellers cheques, with exchange rates being an important issue for travellers looking for the best deals. These days, it’s far more common for travellers to use credit cards and special travel money cards while abroad, with many companies offering excellent deals – making exchange rates less of a worry for many travellers.

Travellers Cheques

As we mentioned, back in 2010 travellers cheques were commonplace. Who else remembers the days of looking for the nearest Bureau de Change upon arrival to exchange their travellers cheques? Those who don’t are probably wondering what we are even talking about, as travellers cheques are almost all but extinct these days – evident in the drastic drop off in search volume.

Beach Holidays

Beach Holidays Google Search Trends

For many, when you say ‘travel’ a beach holiday is the first thing that comes to mind. Over the last decade the classic beach holiday has shown many peaks and troughs in popularity, but in recent years has consistently remained lower in search popularity than in 2010. The decrease in the traditional beach holiday could be due to increased popularity of more adventurous and intrepid travel options – but we’re sure the beloved beach holiday will never fully disappear.

18-30 Holiday

18-30 Holiday Google Search trend

The same can’t necessarily be said about the 18-30 holiday. Once a rite of passage for youngsters, the 18-30 holiday has experienced a massive downfall in recent years. This can be attributed to a decreased interest in drinking and debauchery amongst today’s youth compared to their predecessors, alongside an increased passion for more off-the-beaten-track and bucket list adventures.

Solo Travel

Solo Travel Google Search TrendSolo Travel Google Search Trend

While the traditional beach and party holidays have dropped in popularity over the last 10 years, there certainly appears to be an increased sense of adventure and experience among people’s travel choices – from the young to the old. While back in 2010, the 2-week summer holiday was still the main event for many, these days travel has become more of a year-round passion for people and even a way of life. Travel is no longer just about getting away to enjoy a sunny break, but about ticking off the most exciting experiences around the world – which is one reason that solo travel has grown massively over the last 10 years – as Google Trends demonstrates.


Staycation Google Search Trend

Whether due to increased safety concerns, the falling strength of the £ or simply great marketing of all of the beautiful destinations to see nearby, the rise of the staycation is one that can’t be denied over the last decade. Google Trends backs up the increased appetite for staycations with substantially more travellers searching for this phrase than in 2010.


Babymoon Google Search Trend

One travel trend which has really taken off toward the end of the 2010s is babymoons. While the phrase had been uttered back in 2010, this pre-baby vacay was pretty much the reserve of celebs. Nowadays, it’s commonplace for couples to jet off for some relaxation before their new addition makes it arrival, and the travel industry has definitely picked up on and capitalised on the trend for this type of holiday.

Vegan Travel

There has undoubtedly been an increase in veganism over the last 10 years. While in 2010 you most likely knew very few, if any vegans, these days more and more people are taking on vegan lifestyles every day – whether going fully vegan or incorporating just some vegan days or ethos into their lifestyles. Businesses have capitalised on the growing trend too, with more vegan food available across restaurants and supermarkets. The travel industry is no different, with a growing interest in vegan specific travel experiences opening up a whole new market for the industry.


AirBnb Google Search Trend

AirBnB launched in 2008, meaning it was still very much in its infancy as we started the 10s. This is why there was such little search volume around this phrase in the early half of the decade vs the latter half. Nowadays, AirBnB is one of the most popular booking choices for travellers around the world, while back in 2010, the thought of staying in a stranger’s house – or having them stay at yours – was something we weren’t all 100% sure about.

Instagram Spots

Instagram Spots Google Search Trend

Instagram didn’t launch until October 2010, meaning that as we entered 2010 no-one had ever heard of the platform. Fast forward a decade and travellers have been cited as picking destinations based on how Instagrammable they are. Back in early 2010 the search term ‘Instagram Spots’ was none existent but since then the phrase has shot up in popularity with decisions from what to see, what to eat, and what to wear all being made with the ‘gram in mind. Interestingly, most recent search results show a drop in the phrase this year – so could we be set to leave Instagram behind as we head into the next decade?

Travel Bloggers

Travel Bloggers Google Search Trend

The blogging scene as we know it today was just starting out in 2010, which is why we can see the search interest for travel bloggers has increased dramatically over the last decade. Back in 2010 print travel guides and magazines would be the most common resource for travellers before setting off to a new place, or when looking for inspiration, whereas now the world’s top travel bloggers have become the number one resource for many jet setters when planning their travels.

Travel Influencers

Travel Influencers Google Search Trend

The blogging scene as we know it today was just starting out in 2010, which is why we can see the search interest for travel bloggers has increased dramatically over the last decade. Back in 2010 print travel guides and magazines would be the most common resource for travellers before setting off to a new place, or when looking for inspiration, whereas now the world’s top travel bloggers have become the number one resource for many jet setters when planning their travels.

Safe Places to Travel

Safe Places to Travel Google Search Trends

Sadly, the past 10 years haven’t all been positive. Tragic events, such as the terror incidents in Tunisia and Paris has led to an increased sense of caution among travellers. This can be seen in a growing volume for the search phrase ‘safe places to travel’, as many travellers worry about choosing safe destinations for their next holiday.


Overtourism Google Search Trend

A key issue in travel in recent years has been that of ‘overtourism’, something which 10 years ago we knew very little about. Since 2016 the problem of overtourism plaguing cities such as Venice and Barcelona has been hitting headlines leading to increased awareness and consciousness of this issue among travellers who display a much stronger ethos of ethical and responsible tourism than they did 10 years prior.


It is fascinating looking back at how travel has changed over the last decade, from the trends that have almost disappeared to those new trends which have just taken off…it certainly makes us wonder what the 2020s will hold.

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