Vacations ‘Taylor’-made for Swifties

By Sally French | NerdWallet

As Jessica Malerman was enjoying a meal on board a Royal Caribbean cruise in October, another passenger noticed her T-shirt from Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. The two struck up a conversation, and Malerman says they connected immediately.

“That’s when it hit me,” Malerman says. “This is the perfect avenue to get a group of like-minded people — on board a cruise ship.”

Malerman, who works as a travel advisor for Marvelous Mouse Travels, will co-host a fan-led, four-night group cruise called “In My Cruise Era” with Royal Caribbean this fall. The cruise is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Taylor Swift, but it’s set to be a celebration of the pop superstar. Malerman and her colleagues have Taylor Swift events planned for every night of the sailing, including a friendship bracelet swap, a themed dance party, karaoke, trivia and Eras outfit nights.

Not only do Swift’s actual concerts drive enormous demand for travel, but the hype surrounding them has created a market for trips like these, too.

The growing impact of Swift mania

Set to depart from the Port of Miami Oct. 21, the “In My Cruise Era” sailing is aligned with Swift’s final performance of her Miami tour stop. And while some cruisers also have concert tickets, Malerman says that the majority are coming to Miami just for the cruise itself.

That’s in part because Taylor Swift concert tickets have been notoriously difficult and expensive for fans to get their hands on. Ticketmaster sold more than 2 million Eras Tour tickets the day the presale launched in November 2022 for the first leg of the tour — the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day. And from there, it’s tough to forget the Ticketmaster fiasco that led to a class-action lawsuit and has been a key focus of a congressional investigation.

Last year, tickets could easily cost thousands of dollars on the resale market. This year, tickets still cost in the hundreds. Given that, Taylor Swift-themed activities and vacations can provide a cheaper alternative to buying concert tickets.

For example, the New York-based Circle Line Cruises threw a $25 Swift-themed dance party cruise when the artist’s stint at MetLife Stadium kicked off last May. Alexis Melendez, marketing director for the company, says that many guests who didn’t have concert tickets came on the cruise instead.

Vacations and tours like these have only added to the Taylor Swift hype. In fact, while the “In My Cruise Era” trip is still months away, the cruise is already sold out.

Swift-inspired pilgrimages

Another way to travel and honor the pop star is to curate your own itinerary. These self-planned trips include visits to the places that Swift has immortalized in her song lyrics and music videos, like Cornelia Street, which is both the title of a song on her 2019 album, “Lover,” and the name of a street where she once lived in New York.

Amanda Jacobsmeyer is planning to fly to London in August to see the artist perform (it will be her 13th Taylor Swift concert). She’s also taken multiple Swift-inspired vacations that don’t involve a show.

In 2019, on a road trip out of Boston, she stopped in Kennebunkport, Maine, where Swift filmed her “Mine” music video.

“We stopped for several hours, scouted all the filming locations and took lots of pictures,” she says.

A few years later, she went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival in the city of Arrington. It’s held on the grounds of Castle Gwynn, where Swift filmed her “Love Story” music video. The festival is the only time of the year that the castle is open to the public.

Jacobsmeyer, who is hardly a Renaissance fair enthusiast, said the line to get inside the castle during the festival was 90 minutes long.

“I think we were all there for the same reason,” she says.

Stopping in Eras tour cities

A Swift-inspired vacation could also include a visit to a tour stop. Many local businesses host Taylor Swift-themed events before or around the time of a show. Taylor Swift events have included pre-parties, silent discos, themed cocktails, pop-up shops, brunches and makeup experiences.

When Taylor Swift announced the Eras Tour was coming to Toronto last summer, a local water sports company hosted an event that entailed kayaking to a beach for a Swift-themed karaoke party. Around that time, the city’s Oishiii Sweets also hosted a themed afternoon tea.

A spokesperson for Destination Toronto said in an email that they expect local businesses to plan even more themed events leading up to Swift’s November arrival.

Swift’s magic touch on travel

Planning your themed vacation or finding fellow Swifties to travel with can lessen the sting of missing out on a live show.

The Eras Tour continues through December, with both international and U.S. stops, meaning the concerts will likely continue to drive demand — and cost — for travel.

Even Swifties have said they’re shocked at the Taylor travel mania.

“When we created this cruise group, we were hoping that a few people would like to join us on a cruise,” Malerman says. “That few turned into a few thousand.”