What kinds of travel experiences are people yearning for post-pandemic? We take a look at the expected travel trends for 2021, from family reunions in private villas through to bucket list blowouts.
After the shit show that was 2020, those of us with a penchant for travel had our fingers crossed that 2021 would be the year we’d once again pack our suitcases and head for the airport. But with the new year came a new lockdown (here in the UK, at least), and many of us are now wondering, will we be able to travel in 2021?
No one has the answer, but although things feel pretty bleak this grey January, we must remember that the UK already has two approved vaccines so there is some light at the end of the tunnel (although we must remember that RNA vaccines CANNOT be stored like yoghurts – thank you JVT).
The situation is fluid, and we can’t answer the question will it be safe to travel in 2021, but the hope is that some form of travel will be available to us sometime this year.
All this uncertainty around travel restrictions is changing how we plan for holidays this year, with many still, understandably, putting off booking flights. But it’s also changing what we want from our holidays, with the experts predicting some growing travel trends 2021 – post Covid-19.
So, we asked some tour agents and travel operators to look into their crystal balls and share with us their travel predictions for 2021. Here’s what they expect once we can start travelling again…
Travel in 2021
Family reunion trips
The events of last year have underscored the importance of human connection and quality time with loved ones, and the travel industry is already seeing a lot of interest in large family holidays, often bringing together three generations of relatives.
“There’s huge pent up demand for holidays and getting together with family. Many people didn’t make it on holiday in 2020, and that’s something they want to put right in 2021, but also so they can plan for a big family holiday, with extended family all staying together in one place,” says John Paul Donnelly, founder of 5 Star Villa Holidays.
“I expect there will be a significant influx of travel in 2021. We’re witnessing a growing interest in three-generational villas where whole families can come together and reunite after a year spent apart,” adds Simon Ball, Owner of Tuscany Now & More.
The same works with friendship groups. I along with many others, I’m sure, are already dreaming of hiring out a big house in the country to spend a long weekend with my friends, drinking, eating and being very merry!
People want private accommodation
After almost a year of focusing on social distancing and avoiding germs, many of us are understandably not very keen on returning to busy public spaces.
Therefore, when thinking about holiday accommodation, many people prefer the idea of a private villa over a hotel, as this enables them to continue to stay safe in their own environment.
Experts expect demand for private accommodation to be much higher than that for big hotels, and hotel owners expect guests to request rooms with more space, enabling them to relax in private rather than down in the public areas.
‘We’re expecting the demand for private spaces to continue to grow, with more people seeking top hotel suites with private lounge areas, meaning that public areas, such as bars and restaurants, can be easily avoided,” explains Eoin McGrath, Luxury Sales Manager at Hastings Hotels, Northern Ireland.
Local travel came to the forefront last year and as many people consider it both easier and the experts expect us to continue staying closw to home.
According to Booking.com, 47% of people still plan to travel within their own country in 2021, with 38% planning to do so in the longer term.
When it comes to local travel, 43% plan to explore a new destination within their home region/country and 46% will take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of their home country.
Although I’m desperate to jet off somewhere more exotic, I have to say I’ve really been enjoying exploring more of my local area, like the beautiful village of Castle Combe, pictured above!
Travellers will choose more remote destinations
There continues to be a rise in interest in more remote, undiscovered destinations, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the same as above – people want to be able to keep their distance, so are choosing destinations that are less likely to have big tourist crowds. They also like the idea of being closer to nature and exploring the great outdoors after a year of being stuck in their homes.
Secondly, after a year of being glued to their screens, they want to be able to truly unplug and unwind. Therefore, remote destinations where they can escape the rest of the world sound like utter bliss.
“100% of our long-haul enquiries so far have been for destinations we’d classify as remote,” notes Tom Harding and James Wales, the founders of travel agency Nemo. “These are places where they can switch off and experience nature, such as Kenya, Namibia, the Cotswolds and Maldives,” which brings us on to…
Bucket list blow outs
According to Skyscanner, 30% of people plan to spend more on their next trip than traditional pre-Covid spending. This is because people have spent the last 12 months at home planning their dream holiday and are now prioritising long trips and big-ticket holidays as a way to treat themselves and their loved ones after a hard year.
Many are hoping to make their next holiday one that ticks off a bucket list destination, and travel experts are seeing a lot of interest in more exotic, far-flung destinations like the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
“Lots of people have spent lockdown planning their bucket list escapes, and 2021 is when they plan to make them happen,” says Donnelly.
Dream family holidays are also set to be big post-Covid. Disney trips to Orlando and winter visits to Lapland are expected to boom as parents want to create new magical memories for their kids after such a disruptive year.
“People are looking for a unique experience, a way to treat themselves after such a gruelling year,” says Ball.
Our bucket list trip is to hopefully return to the tropical paradise of Koh Jum and stay in a private beachfront villa – this time with our own pool. Preliminarily booked for October, this dream trip is what’s keeping me going right now!
‘Working from holiday’, or the ‘workcation’
The pandemic has also shown many more people that it’s possible to work remotely, and so we’re now starting to see a trend for workcations, with people choosing to book extended stays in more beautiful locations. Why work in your spare bedroom in Slough, when you could do it from your seafront balcony in Malaysia?
Booking.com expects travellers will look to extend their vacation experience in new locales by staying an extra week or two to work remotely – or conversely factoring holiday around a stint of remote working. It
It’s reported that over a third (37%) of travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 40% would be willing to quarantine if they could work remotely.
Hotel owners have picked up on this and many are now offering special packages for people looking for an extended stay, such as the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort in Saint Lucia.
“Over the last few months, we’ve seen a growing trend in extended bookings, with people looking to work from the resort and spend more time on our beautiful island,” says general manager Michael O’Sullivan. “In light of this, we launched a new ‘Work from Windjammer’ package, which is tailored for families with working parents or elder siblings. Our villas lend themselves perfectly to these sorts of holidays, where family members can work from home using spare rooms as offices and still spend quality time together.”
Travel trends for 2021
So there you have it; our insight into the travel predictions for 2021 – Covid permitting of course!
I’d love to hear if any of these had you nodding along – I know that many of these hit home for me. I’m desperate to travel again, but definitely am erring toward private accommodation and open spaces over hotels and tourist hubs. And I’m sure you’ll agree that we’ve all earnt that dream bucket list adventure, right?!
Do you currently have any travel plans for 2021? I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you feel it’s safe to travel this year, and where you’re planning to travel post-Covid, so please let me know via the comments below. But for now, stay safe, stay home and get planning that big trip for when the time is right!