Travel Search Trends: January 2019

by Sasha
Travel Search Trends Report January 2019

If you’ve ever wondered where everyone else wants to visit as you’ve looked for travel inspiration, you’ll love this article on the latest travel search trends. I am experimenting with this topic as a monthly report for those of us that want to know the most popular destinations being searched online.

My Methodology

Ok, so my methodology is not that scientific, but based on the findings of my research and the lack of a go-to resource for this information for a short-term period, it works for me. Use this information at your own discretion.

I first compiled a list of the top searches for “travel to*” in both Pinterest suggestions and the Google trends tool. Then, I cross-referenced the top 15 results from each of those sources to see which destinations were repeated in both. I found 8 destinations that were in both lists. These 8 destinations are listed first.

I wanted to provide at least 10 destinations, so I went looking for a third data source – I decided on Kayak Travel Trends – Most Popular Destinations. This source lists the top 10 flight searches from two cities (departure locations) of your choosing for a certain month or season. I thought choosing New York and Los Angeles for the Winter 2019 timeframe would yield the most objective results — since those are two major international hubs and on two opposite sides of the country. I added all 20 (10 for each of the two departure locations to my list and then cross-referenced for duplicates across all three sources to come up with my top 10 list.

Again, it’s not a fool-proof methodology, but when combining all of three sources, I feel good about releasing these findings.

Results – Top 10 Travel Destination Searches

  1. Mexico
  2. Paris, France
  3. India
  4. Ireland
  5. Italy
  6. China
  7. Japan
  8. Greece
  9. Thailand
  10. Spain

Google Search Trends by Destination

It didn’t make sense to stop there. I wanted to know how this trend played out for each of these top 10 destinations over the last 30 days for Google searches. This was really to validate my methodology. If I saw a downturn in searches for any of these destinations over the last 30 days, this would likely mean my top 10 findings were wrong.

Top 3 Results: Mexico, Paris and India

First, I analyzed the search trends for the Top 3 results to confirm that there was a strong increase in searches for each — validating their placement on all 4 lists/3 sources.

Especially for Paris and Mexico, the trend was positive.

Google Search Trends: Mexico

Tulum ruins in Cancun, Mexico – Riviera Maya

I noticed in the initial data that some sources referenced Cancun specifically, rather than just Mexico, so for this one, I entered “flights to Cancun” in comparison with searches for “travel to Mexico”. My hypothesis was that if people were interested in traveling to Mexico, they had likely decided on a specific destination within the country and would research flights to that destination specifically. I also see a strong upwards trend in the searches for both.

Google Search Trends: Paris, France

Scenic view to the Eiffel tower on a day with heavy snow. Unusual weather conditions in Paris.

As you can see from the graph above, there has been an increase in searches for both “travel to Paris” and “flights to Paris” as a search term from Dec 21, 2018-January 21, 2019. In my opinion, searches for flights are more indicative of an intent to travel, rather than just research.

Google Search Trends: India

The Gateway of India and boats as seen from the Mumbai Harbour in Mumbai, India

Interestingly, the trends for India were not in line with my expectations. However, given that I placed more weight on “flights to*” as a stronger indicator of travel intent, I believe the overall trend is positive for India. It may make a difference to try various locales in the country, since it is such a large/general destination — not specific, like Paris.

Google Search Trends: Ireland

Google Search Trends: Italy

For Italy, I tried comparing results for flights to various Italy destinations, like Florence, Venice and Milan, but the searches for those places were significantly less than searches for “flights to Rome”. This makes sense, since I believe most people that have never visited Italy, may believe Rome is the most popular airport (which would be accurate). It is interesting that the trend lines for both searches shown in the graph are similar over the time period.

Google Search Trends: China

The results for China did not support my findings. There could be a few reasons for this – perhaps people were searching for travel to China to determine if it was a viable destination — for safety, budget, etc. But, the intent to travel was not there once the research was complete? I am not sure how to explain this search trend data. There was clearly an uptick in search volume for travel to the country itself.

Google Search Trends: Japan

The results for Google Trends searches for Japan were very interesting. This graph indicates that most people do not know which airport or major city to fly into Japan — since searches for “flights to japan” were higher than both “flights to Tokyo” and “travel to japan”. It also suggests to me that people researching travel to Japan have a strong intent to travel soon to the country — again due to the greater weight I place on searching for flights over researching travel to a location.

Google Search Trends: Greece

Google Search Trends: Thailand

Google Search Trends: Spain

So, based on this data, what questions do you have about the top travel search trends this month?

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