In the midst of a global pandemic, we’re still optimistically planning for the future, and for many of us that includes local or international trips. Since most of us aren’t infectious disease experts like Dr. Fauci, we couldn’t have predicted the pandemic, but travel experts have made some predictions about what travel will look like in 2021.
For many Americans, the days of splashy vacations are temporarily on hold. The pandemic has affected the budgets of travelers, so many will need to figure out how to go on a well-deserved vacation without going broke. Instead of flying first-class to Paris or staying at an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas, more travelers are looking into budget-friendly options like stay-cations or camping trips. Now is the perfect time to check out that National Park within driving distance or to rent an RV and explore the country. Or spend the night in a tent under the stars after an evening filled with s’mores and ghost stories. Just don’t forget to wear your mask and practice social distancing!
Given that international travel is somewhat challenging right now, we can assume that many Americans will be staying closer to home for a little while longer. While confidence in domestic travel is on the rise again, some travelers remain wary about visiting other countries. A survey by Zapwater Communications found that 83% of Americans said they would prefer to travel within the U.S. for their first post-pandemic trip. Experts expect that domestic travel will continue to be one of the safest, most accessible options going into 2021.
Road trips (particularly in RVs) are predicted to be one of the top choices for domestic travelers in 2021. There was a massive surge in RV rentals in 2020 and this surge shows no signs of slowing down. Not only was there an increase in rentals, but 58% of consumers showed interest in buying an RV. This supports the experts’ predictions that domestic travel is the way of the future — at least for now.
Just because we can’t visit many of the places on our bucket lists right now doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy some of the experiences we would have had if we were there. Online travel is a great way to see other cities and countries from afar.
Airbnb’s Online Experiences take you across the globe with guides who share their world with you. From a virtual leopard safari in Sri Lanka to a cooking class with a French pastry chef, you can experience local sights and sounds from the comfort and safety of your own home.
You can also travel vicariously through your favorite YouTubers’ travel vlogs or on creative new platforms like WindowSwap, a quarantine project created by Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam where users share short videos of the view from their windows in cities around the world.
Rather than trying to hit several hotspots in one vacation, tourists will likely be spending their time in a single destination in 2021. If you’re lucky enough to travel to another country, it’s possible that you will have to quarantine on arrival, so your movements may be restricted to your immediate vicinity to shop for necessities or enjoy limited outdoor exercise. This slower pace of travel is likely to extend into mid-next year.
Solo travel is the ultimate exercise in social distancing, but it’s not just the pandemic that has caused a rise in this type of travel. Much-needed “me time,” the lack of interest from friends and family in a destination that’s been on your bucket list for years, or simply challenging yourself to do something outside your comfort zone are all reasons given by those who have traveled alone. Traveling by yourself also gives you the flexibility to travel when and where it is convenient for you. When responding to a survey, clients of travel company Cox and Kings said they would prefer solo travel over travel with anyone other than their partner or spouse for the foreseeable future.
For those who do plan vacations with friends and family, we can expect to see more “vacation pods.” Groups of trusted friends and family will be renting vacation homes together and spending time in these small clusters while limiting their exposure to other travelers. Vacation rentals are preferred by almost every type of traveler over hotels or resorts right now.
Hotels and Resorts
While many hotels never stopped booking guests, they’ve made changes that reflect our current state of affairs. These changes will likely remain in a post-COVID world. From automated check-in and check-out, to robots that bring you fresh towels every morning, the changes will make staying in a hotel or resort safer and more efficient for everyone.
Outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and camping are far less risky than common tourist activities where travelers are packed together like sardines. It’s easier to stay six feet away from fellow travelers in the great outdoors, and the fresh air is better for you than stale indoor air where the virus can circulate freely.
Travelers in 2021 are more likely to choose off-the-beaten-path destinations rather than typical tourist hotspots like London or New York. Smaller cities will attract visitors who would rather avoid crowds and explore what these lesser-known destinations have to offer.
One travel trend that is not related to the pandemic is sustainable travel. Environmentally friendly travel options like taking the train will continue to grow in popularity. Amtrak’s nationwide network is a relaxing way to see the sights from a comfortable seat in one of the main cars or even a cozy roomette where you can get a good night’s sleep. On some routes, you can even bring your pet along for the ride. Train travel is greener than travel by car or plane, so you can enjoy your trip knowing that you’re helping to save the environment at the same time.
Trendsetting Travel Insurance
No matter what kind of travel you choose in 2021 (with the exception of virtual travel, of course) you’ll want to look into travel insurance. Even under normal circumstances, travel insurance is a good idea. During the pandemic, it’s even more important.
Travel insurance policies offer you protection when you have to delay or cancel your trip (for a covered reason such as illness or injury), when the airline goes bankrupt, or when your luggage is stolen or misplaced. TravelInsurance.com can help you find the best policy at the lowest price so you can be sure you’re covered if something goes wrong. We work with top-rated insurance companies that offer comprehensive coverage at a competitive price.
While people are buying travel insurance now more than ever due to the pandemic, this is another trend that travel experts expect to continue into the future. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to minimize your risk and enjoy your trip without having to worry about the “what ifs.”
If you’ll be traveling in 2021, whether it’s a weekend trip to the Poconos or a trans-Atlantic cruise, be trendy and include travel insurance in your vacation budget.