The Viral Travel Trend That Taylor Swift Fans May Not Even Know They Helped Create

Taylor Swift's concerts are so popular globally that they've inspired a new buzzword in the travel realm: gig-tripping. It's when you marry your vacation with one or more concerts, with some hardcore fans following the same musical artist to different destinations worldwide. Your trip will be somewhat constrained by where your favorite artist is performing, but you can use the off hours (when you're not concertgoing) to work in some sightseeing along the way.

Conventional gig-tripping might just mean hitting the road to see one of the best music festivals in the U.S. In its travel trend report for 2024, Skyscanner identified the new wave of gig-tripping as a "culture-led" vibe that's been taking fans abroad as they link up with stops on international concert tours. In 2023, Swift's Eras Tour became the world's highest-grossing tour — and the first in history to reach the billion-dollar mark. This not-so-coincidentally dovetailed with the colloquial rise of gig-tripping.

Another travel booking company, eDreams, told Reuters that demand for flights to Warsaw, Poland, was up 339% for Swift's concert dates there. A mother writing for Insider (via Yahoo News) said that her $5,000 trip to Warsaw, which included the cost of a hotel, flight, and three VIP Swift tickets, was still cheaper than buying two tickets for the nosebleed section stateside. The trip offered her and her kids a chance to see Swift perform live on stage for three hours while connecting with their Polish heritage in a top-ranked vacation spot in Europe.

What's behind the gig-tripping surge

According to Skyscanner, 44% of U.S. travelers "would fly short haul to see their favorite artist live, with 18% saying they'd fly long haul." Yet 60% "would consider traveling to a gig or festival in a different country if it would help save them money." If that seems counter-intuitive, just consider that mother choosing Warsaw after dealing with the price-gouging of U.S. ticket scalpers online. As CNN Business reported, Taylor Swift tickets went for thousands of dollars on StubHub after Ticketmaster's website experienced a system overload during the Eras Tour pre-sale.

The pre-sale came in late 2022 when concert ticket sales bounced back after an almost three-year pandemic slump. In addition to Swift's ultra-committed fanbase, the globetrotting energy of gig-trippers may have been partially fueled by pent-up, post-pandemic demand for travel and concert outings. In Skyscanner's report, another trend among traveling culture vultures for 2024 was "main character energy," which involves seeking out real-life locations you've seen onscreen in streaming shows like Netflix's "Emily in Paris." Substitute Taylor for Emily, and you've got a recipe for gig-tripping.

In building up a community of jet-setting fans around her music, chart-topper and record-setter Swift is just the latest artist to capitalize on the market for gig-tripping. Viewed through a music history lens, her fans didn't single-handedly birth gig-tripping, but they codified it in the cultural lexicon, taking it beyond borders. The world's music lovers and travelers are now armed with new shorthand for the preexisting phenomenon. 

Swifties gave gig-tripping a name

Ask certain baby boomers, Gen Xers, or millennials — ones who can't name a single Taylor Swift song other than her biggest Billboard hit, "Shake It Off" — and they might tell you domestic gig-tripping is a time-honored travel tradition. In the 1970s, a similar community of traveling fans — proto-gig-trippers — sprung up around the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead. As Time notes, the band added to its appeal by foregoing any canned set list and delivering a new musical experience in every city.

Swift fans have become known as "Swifties," with the term even being a finalist for the Oxford Word of the Year 2023. It's not in Webster's Dictionary yet, but you'll find its boomer doppelganger, "Deadhead," in there. For their improvisational performances, the Dead also gave rise to the phrase "jam band," per That term has since been applied to acts like Phish, with major news outlets repeating it even when the band and its rabid cult following (or "Phamily") entered the $2 billion Las Vegas Sphere in April 2024.

In the same way, Swifties have now popularized the idea of international gig-tripping. In this case, the trend is more the viral spread of the word and the globalization of travel since concertgoers and sightseers have seen what it signified before at the local level. What sets Swift apart as a global trendsetter is her level of pop stardom and the lengths to which some fans are willing to go to see her.

Broaden your horizons with gig-tripping

Deadheads, young and dedicated in the heyday of bands on tour buses, were perhaps likelier to embark on U.S. road trips than board planes. The classic image of a cross-country hippie van (really, a Volkswagen Bus, manufactured in Germany) is one that's lingered in the public imagination. Swifties, by comparison, are taking things to the next level in the 21st century by flying all around Europe to see her.

In February 2024, Tim Elrod, a vice president at the Florida-based agency Travelmation, told Fox News Digital, "I just booked a family on a European trip built entirely around Taylor Swift. My client wanted to see the Eras Tour with her daughters, but they couldn't get tickets in the U.S. They instead turned to her international shows and were able to snag seats in Milan. That's when they called me, and three nights in Milan has snowballed into them now visiting cities all over Italy."

Hopefully, while shaking off scalpers and gig-tripping to the beat of Taylor Swift, that family will find time to visit some of Italy's best sites for ancient history. Weaving some non-music culture into one's overseas trip could make for an even more meaningful vacation. In a sense, that's what separates gig-tripping from the grind of garden-variety concert touring. Otherwise, you risk traveling to amazing new places without seeing much outside concert venues or hotel rooms. Picture a souvenir T-shirt reading, "I went to Italy, and all I saw was Taylor Swift!"

Where gig-tripping meets travel trouble

Warsaw and Milan are but two of several cities that have seen travel interest spike around an upcoming Taylor Swift concert. You don't have to be a diehard Swiftie or even a globetrotter to go gig-tripping, either. Just stay safe while doing it in an unfamiliar place. The practical reality of concertgoing in a foreign country could unleash a world of potential travel trouble if you're jet-lagged and not familiar with the local language, laws, customs, or geography.

As Swifties following the news can probably attest, simple time differences can also breed confusion. When Swift performed her first-ever Tokyo string of concerts in 2024, it was right before she hopped on a plane to Las Vegas to watch her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, play in the Super Bowl. Fans worried that she might be cutting it too close, leading the Embassy of Japan to issue a statement, assuring everyone she could make it in time "despite the 12-hour flight and 17-hour time difference."

If you're on the road, gig-tripping the old-fashioned way, you can still have a safe, rewarding trip by breaking it up with some much-needed hotel rest — and some adventurous travel detours. Of course, that's not always an option when you're a fan navigating sold-out U.S. shows and pricey ticket resellers. Your mileage and mode of transportation may vary, but for anyone underserved by the local concert tour circuit, gig-tripping offers a way to venture outside your usual radius while combining music with travel.