2020 threw the travel industry (and the world) a major curveball.
Flights were cancelled left, right, and centre. Travellers scrambled to get back home before borders closed.
And our travel plans? Those quickly got rescheduled and then put on hold indefinitely.
Luckily, there’s hope at the end of the pandemic tunnel. In 2021, vaccines are being rolled out worldwide, travel bans are lifting, and people want to get out and explore.
COVID has undoubtedly changed how we travel. While some of these travel trends won’t stay around forever, some (like remote work) are becoming the new normal.
From workcations to luxury RV travel, here are some of the biggest travel trends for 2021:
1. Last-Minute Trips Are All The Rage
Raise your hand if your travel plans have been personally victimized by 2020.
With countries closing borders, travel restrictions updating by the week, trying to plan a trip anywhere is a rollercoaster of anxiety and stress.
Who wants to pay for a flight in 4-months time that might not happen? Or book a vacation to a country that bans your nationality from entry 2-weeks before your arrival date?
Investing in a vacation that might not happen is daunting.
With an air of uncertainty around travel, it’s leading more and more travelers to opt-in for last minute, spur of the moment trips
According to a December 2020 survey by Hotels.com, it showed:
- 32% of travellers want to make spontaneous decisions
- 28% don’t want to plan
- 25% say they wouldn’t plan any activities ahead of arrival
2. Domestic Trips + Staycations
In 2020, the U.S. landed on several “banned from entry” lists around the world.
A lack of travel options, hard lockdowns, and quarantine periods have led to the rising trend of domestic trips and staycations.
It’s forced people to explore their own backyards and look for somewhere to go that isn’t the four walls of their homes.
Domestic travel is also safer, less stressful, and more affordable as you don’t need to budget for PCR tests or mandatory 2-week hotel stays.
For the travel industry, attracting these local travellers is crucial to stay afloat until international foot traffic returns to normal.
3. Workations + WFH Hotels + Remote Work
The pandemic forced companies holding onto the remnants of the past to adapt to the new way of work.
Over the last year, there has been a huge shift towards remote work, and it has had real-world consequences on the travel industry.
With the need to commute into an office gone and many of us itching to ditch our home offices, the trend of remote work travel will continue to boom.
After all, why answer your emails from your couch when you have the freedom to do it in Mexico?
4. Pleasure + Scenic Flights
With borders closing, flights became harder to book, and 16,000 planes were sitting unused at the height of the pandemic.
It threw airlines into turmoil and resulted in some creative thinking to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region have started operating “flights to nowhere”.
In Taipei, EVA AAir launched a Hello Kitty-themed flight with a menu from three-Michelin-star chef Motokazu Nakamura.
In Australia, Qantas curated a 7-hour flight from Sydney with low-level fly-bys of Uluru, Byron Bay and the Great Barrier Reef.
As airlines try to recover from the pandemic, we will possibly see more “flights to nowhere”.
5. Road Trip and Glamping Travel
The uncertainty of air travel has led to a major increase in road trip travel.
Over the last year, Pinterest has seen a 40% increase in RV accessories and car travel searches.
According to RVshare, the rental company recorded a booming 166% increase in bookings between September and November 2020.
So why the rise in road trips?
It’s a safe way to get out of the house while also minimizing contact with other people.
With a fully kitted out RV, you have absolutely everything you need, and you can venture out into the wilderness where few humans roam.
Globetrender also predicts this trend will see luxury RV trips becoming all the rage over the next five years.
6.Private Island Takeovers
For luxury travellers and celebrities like Kim Kardashian, booking out an entire island is a safe way to travel in 2021.
It minimizes your contact with other travelers and allows you to experience your own tropical, opulent bubble.
You can rent out private islands in French Polynesia, the Maldives, the Seychelles, and the Florida Keys, to name a few.
For brands appealing to high-end travelers, the appeal of total exclusivity will continue to dominate in 2021.
Which travel trends do you think will impact how we travel over the next couple of years? Did I leave out any that you think deserve a mention?