What Travel will look like in 2021
It’s pretty safe to say that all of us travelers are beyond ready to break out our passports and resume exploring new cultures, cuisines and people as soon as it’s possible to do so. In the meantime we have been busy exploring our own backyards and getting comfortable with the new normal. However, it’s always smart to be prepared for what might lay ahead in 2021, and we could all use something to look forward to.
During this pandemic, hotels, airlines, cruise liners and all other tourism providers including drivers and restaurants have been adapting to the new normal. The industry as a whole is deeply committed to making sure everyone stays as safe as possible. Countries like Singapore offer a gold standard. These considerations include how to service travelers on limited capacity and how to thoroughly sanitize to keep travelers safe, even into a post-COVID era. Additionally, they are trying to make travel plans as flexible as possible so we don’t find ourselves in the same mess we experienced in March 2020.
The Dog Days of 2020
Now more than ever, travel professional advisors are going to be key players. Not only being experts on routes, properties and experiences around the world, and also how to navigate the bumps when they do happen. They can also help negotiate more flexible terms that aren’t available to the general public and provide you with all the information you need to feel safe and secure before, during and after travel. Look to resources such as Virtuoso, Brownell Travel and of course TravelStruck to find your perfect fit.
I talked to travel experts whose jobs it is to keep up on travel trends and here are my crystal ball predictions for what 2021 will look like in travel.
The early part of the year, when COVID cases are likely high due to the weather and flu season, travel will probably still be restricted to domestic destinations. However as hotels and other hospitality businesses have figured out the new normal and how to keep travelers safe, more options will be available than we had during 2020. Private experiences, such as home rentals and larger villa rentals like Palmasola, will continue to be popular as will the beaches of Cabo and the ski slopes of Jackson Hole.
Winter will be the time to think ahead and PLAN. Pent up demand and limited availability due to postponed 2020 trips means that hot spot destinations are going to sell out earlier than normal. This is why partnering with travel advisors will be key. Instead of spending endless hours searching online, advisors are well versed in how to set expectations and help you find the perfect fit with availability for the right price.
As people start to get restless again and hopefully a vaccine starts to roll out to the population, spring break trips will perk up. While people will still avoid cities, popular destinations will likely include the Caribbean or more remote options like Blackberry Farm. Since most March/April 2020 trips were under penalty when they were canceled, and therefore postponed to the same time in 2021, availability is going to be particularly limited.
Remember that you are not the only person excited to travel. Be sure you are prepared, and especially that your passport is update to date (passports must be valid for six months prior to expiration for entry into most countries).
Now that most avid travelers have sought out the vaccine, we expect travel to be back in almost full swing. Top destinations such as Ireland and the South of France will be booked far in advance, so if you haven’t planned then consider off the beaten path destinations - Panama instead of Costa Rica, Budapest instead of Paris, Laos instead of Thailand.
Be prepared to see prices higher than they have been in the past. As travelers, you need to keep in mind all of the additional resources travel suppliers are implementing, and that many of them are running with limited capacity while paying a full staff, which is ultimately increasing the cost of their services.
In all the excitement of getting back out on the road, do not forget to prepare for the biggest season of all. And 2021 is expected to be big (and booked!).
Holidays are by far the most in-demand, expensive time to travel so it’s more important than ever to plan early. This will be especially true if you’re seeking warm weather destinations such as the Caribbean or Hawaii or popular hot spots like Peru or Australia. Perhaps consider take this time to explore Europe or Africa. This will be a time for you, and your advisor, to be open and creative.
After all the bumps that 2020 delivered, we know both the tourism industry and travelers will have a renewed sense of gratitude, kindness and curiosity so we can’t wait to see the love overflowing in airports, on trains, and in the destinations we so desperately want to visit. There is hope this will be channeled into finding ways to give back when on the road, such as one day volunteer opportunities that can be found through sources like Give a Day Global and Air Bnb Experiences. Also, while sustainability has been a trend for the past several years, we hope everyone takes this opportunity to care even more about how we treat our planet and it’s beautiful resources.
In summary, especially once a vaccine starts rolling out, travel will be back with a vengeance and the early bird will catch the worm. Be sure to final a travel advisor and/or resource that you trust and can build a relationship with and safely, get back out there!