11 Travel Trends for 2021

We all know travel has changed. So much that it pretty much ground to a halt in 2020.

How does the biggest industry in the world that impacts the lives of millions suddenly stop? No one could ever imagined it could ever happen, but it did and it changed all of our lives forever!

One thing I know for sure, travel will never permanently die. The desire for it is far too great as it offers our lives so much joy and richness.

We will always seek it and fight for it.

News of successful vaccines is giving us the comfort padding we all needed to start dipping our toes into travel in 2021.

It will be a different experience, and hopefully, NOW, a better one. I hope we can use some valuable lessons to evolve it into a gentler, more meaningful experience that is done a little more consciously.

Here are the few trends, or ways travel may look in 2021 and here are 11 steps to prepare for travel in 2021.

1. Travel is Priority

The Wacissa River Florida
Don’t stop the adventure

It takes the closing of a few airport terminals and house arrests for several months to make us realize what is important to us.

It’s certainly not the daily grind of get up, go to work, pay bills, collapse into bed, rinse and repeat.

We’re craving health, adventure, and connection – to ourselves, to each other and to Mother Nature. That’s the balm for our souls!

People are figuring out how to make travel the focus of their lifestyle from here on out. No more excuses. And no more taking this luxury for granted. Put down the phone and soak up the memory making opportunity.

Here’s how we’ve created a life of travel.

2. Sustainable Travel

travel trends 2021
Travel gently

Have travelers heard the cries of Mother Earth during this pandemic? We hope you were hearing them way before that.

The Earth gave a huge sigh of relief when the planes stopped flying, the cruise ships stopped their incessant pollution, and the crowds were kicked out of Venice.

We cannot return to what was. The old way did not think about over-consuming Mother Nature on a global scale.

Tourism boards will be putting their head together to come up with better plans to manage numbers and the impact on their local environments and communities.

Consumers, I hope, will be looking at how they can balance their love for travel and the many gifts it gives them with how they can walk more gently.

They will carefully consider, “How can I give back to those communities I visit?” by choosing companies and experiences that take care of Mother Nature and supporting local businesses that keep these communities alive and vibrant.

You can read about our Bloggers Give Back policy in our post on lessons for 2020.

Here are 27 tips for living (and traveling) more sustainably.

3. Greater Value & Service

travel trends 2021
Give me value and service

Travelers in 2021 want more value and they want it from transparent and reliable booking platforms.

2020 has been a rough financial year for many. No more wasting money on frivolous experiences and unnecessary costs.

Respect will be given to those companies who can stand up and support consumers’ needs. They’re demanding you put them first and be clear with what your cancellation policies, refund processes and insurance options are.

Due diligence will be the focus word for travelers in 2021. And this way of finding value will last for years to come.

Some tips for researching and planning for travel with the travel companies we trust.

Credit card rewards points will be more attractive than ever and people will be hacking into free travel. We’re already seeing higher than normal sign up bonuses.

We have been busy learning and capitalizing on this strategy. We have nearly 800,000 mileage points ready for several overseas trips when we can, and are getting close to accumulating nearly 200,000 more thanks to a few applied techniques these past couple of months.

The resources that have helped us are:

  • Johnny Jet has a ton of free content on the best credit cards. See his top recommendations for best credit card offers in 2021.
  • Families Fly Free is a private membership site I am a part of that has helped me outline a solid Southwest strategy.
  • Travel Freely is a great free app for staying organized and tracking card bonuses and benefits with lots of great tips and recommendations.

4. Simplicity and Seclusion

wrightsville beach family travel
Simple. Relaxed.

Gone are the buffets, tour buses, and flashy hotel stays. Many people want simplicity more than ever.

They’ve gotten used to solitude and isolation and won’t be in a hurry to return to fast paced, generic experiences, and crowded areas.

Let me pitch a tent in the woods or stay in a house on the beach with loved ones where we can cook our own food, paired with our own happy hour, and enjoy simple conversation and connection on our private deck with a view!

Stand up paddle boards, kayaks and bikes flew off the shelves as soon as lock down started.

Once you form a habit and fall in love with these healthy experiences deep in nature you really want to retreat from it. Nature and outdoor adventure will be the main event for 2021.

As will apartment rentals that offer seclusion and a greater sense of safety for the person’s trusted travel bubble. This will offer the traveler less touch points to have to worry about.

Lessor known destinations will be what people seek. The danger is, with the huge influence of social media, these destinations may move into the known space far too quickly.

We’re also helping you save time and reduce planning hassle by creating travel itineraries. You can see them here:

5. Caravan / RV Travel + Glamping

boondocking ketchum idaho
Our beautiful boondocking spot near Ketchum – all to ourselves

RV Travel took off last year as soon as the flights ground to a halt. With the uncertainty of 2021 still around, traveling in an RV will be a popular option, particularly more people are now remote working and learning.

However, don’t rush out and sell your home and earthly goods until you’ve done your due diligence and looked into the future when the pandemic slows and allows us to return to a more normal life and travel.

We had more freedom to make the decision to travel long term as we didn’t own anything, so wouldn’t lose much. Craig and I did have our 5 year honeymoon while owning properties. We just rented them out. The rent covered the mortgage and we had property managers so there wasn’t much stress at all.

Here are a few questions for you to consider and research:

  • Is RV travel what you want to do for the long term?
  • What if you hate it? Do you really want to start from scratch again (if you’ve sold everything)?
  • Do you know what RV travel entails? Research. It’s not as glamorous as it looks. It involves a lot of management and maintenance and CAN be expensive. Do you want to put all of that money into it and perhaps jeopardize future travels abroad?
  • Will you cope remote working? Again, while quite liberating, it does present its challenges. Add remote learning on top of that, the stress just elevated a little. Add on living in a confined space with your partner and kids for long periods of time, and you’ve got volcanoes grumbling!

RV travel has many pros and cons. It’s a great way to travel in a self-sufficient manner, stay connected to nature, exist in your own travel bubble and go off the beaten path. (It can be very affordable, but it also can be costly!!)

However, I know of many people who didn’t think it through carefully, or chose the wrong type of RV, and regretted it. Make sure you find the right RV for your situation and style of travel.

Start off slow. Perhaps try tent camping first, or rent a few different types of RVs to take trips and see how you feel. Do not sell everything until you’ve done this!

Glamping is a fun way to travel in the outdoors in unique style and comfort. We’ll definitely see that start to grow this year as people want that more seclusive, nature based travel without the discomfort of a tent or hassle of RV travel.

Our friends, Mike and Anne from Honeytrek are the glamping experts. They have put all their wisdom together in a beautiful coffee-table-meets-guidebook. It offers over 70 dreamy destinations, plus inspiring stories, practical tips, and a lifetime worth of adventures. Check out Comfortably Wild here

RV Travel Tips

6. Domestic Road Trips

yellowstone national park road trip 2021

It feels funny sharing domestic road trips as a trend, when we’ve been living this trend full-time for 7 years! The more I road trip, the further I stray from airports.

Road tripping is more effortless, fun, liberating, flexible and typically cheaper. It lends itself to so many cool adventures – many off the beaten path – with multiple people you love.

Again, going back to simplicity, seclusion, and less touch points to worry about.

We are focused on sharing lots of road trip ideas and itineraries for you this year.

Start here:

7. Inspiration and Stories

family travel love
Not a staged photo.

What’s the purpose for travel? What experiences can I have that will align with my values and uplift my spirit? How can I go deeper into a region and connect to its soul?

This is the new traveler. (well actually how we used to do it before social media!!)

If they can’t get it through their own experiences, they’ll be seeking it through the stories of others for inspiration and information for when they can.

Gone are the worshipping of perfect Instagram photos with ridiculously posed photos that everyone knows the normal person does not do when they travel.

We know the truth: We barely have time, nor care, to even brush our hair. That’s what travel is for – to get messy and not care.

Out with the BS and in with the REAL.

Here are 55 lessons we learned from a life of travel – the reason why we do it – not for likes or hashtag reach.

8. Local Travel

Local travel raleigh
Discovering cool things in Raleigh

It’s all about traveling your own country, but also learning to love what is in your own backyard – every day.

People are understanding that you don’t have to visit another country to get the feelings you desire from travel. You can easily do that by discovering something new in your area.

Once again, it will be return to meaningful, deeper travel – but this time on a more personal, immediate level.

Local hotels and tourist services would be smart to create experiences and campaigns that cater to and promote the staycation experience. Make it simple, safe, and secluded.

9. Remote Work and Learning

remote learning travel trend 2021
Working poolside. Why not?

The biggest lesson from many people during 2020 was what we’ve known and lived for the past 10 years – work and school does not have to happen from one stationary place.

It can happen from wherever you are (if you’re lucky) and the new term schoolcation was born!

People will be looking at how they can take their work and schooling with them as they travel, and so travel more often. They’ll be returning to putting their VALUES at the center of their life creation. (more on that in a post coming this week)

This also aligns with simplicity travel.

The 2021 location independent traveler will need a slower pace with home-like amenities in order to maintain the work life travel balance.

Tips for Homeschooling and Working Remote

We have traveled full time while running a full time business, parenting full time AND homeschooling for the past 7 years. It has evolved a lot during that time and we have a TON of insights.

10. Health & Safety

Blockade Runner Wrightsville Beach
Keep me safe!

Not surprisingly, high on a travelers list for 2021 will be health, hygiene, and safety.

What are the protocols of all their touch points throughout the travel experience?

People will research destinations more carefully to ensure they feel protected through low case numbers, health checks and immunization requirements.

They will look for accommodation and tours that respect hygiene guidelines and are more intimate in nature.

Vaccinations

A hot topic of conversation for 2021 will be vaccination mandates and requirements. Expect to see travel companies and countries impose regulations that “no vaccine, no play.”

Qantas has already said it may only be allowing passengers who have had the COVID vaccine. 

This is concerning considering the long term effects of the vaccine has not been studied, and the true effectiveness of it, especially whether a vaccinated person can still transmit the virus, is still largely unknown. 

Keep yourself informed and updated as it rapidly changes throughout the year. 

The introduction of digital vaccination records will become popular – think the yellow vaccination card via an app – which considering I can never find my paper one will be quite welcome for me!

Why has it taken this long?

Caveat: Know that over sanitization is also not good for your body. Exposure to germs is what it needs to build a good immune system. Still eat your street food and touch a bit of dirt here and there.

I mean, have you really lived unless you’ve ordered food from a street cart that has flies buzzing all over it.

What has not been discussed enough during this pandemic is HOW to build a strong immune system – your first line of defense. I hope travelers start to put more of a focus on this before they start traveling.

11. Yes to Travel Insurance

surfing lesson Wrightsville
Surfing lesson in Wrightsville Beach

People will start to realize that their own health insurance policies and credit card travel benefits won’t be enough security, peace of mind, and protection of the travel investment.

We’re all very much aware now of how many things are outside of our own control and can go wrong. If you have to cancel at the last minute because something unknown happens, you want to be able to do it knowing you have not lost thousands in the process.

People will be looking for Cancel For Any Reasonpolicies, which should cover you for most unforeseeable events, including a pandemic.

Expect to see new travel insurance polices that have evolved due to this crisis.

Reputable and legitimate companies will be working hard to come up with policies that suit the 2021 traveler. As ambassadors for Allianz Travel, I know they have been doing this and are rolling out their new policies throughout the first quarter of 2021 to be ready for a hopeful return of travel in May.

As always, YOUR due diligence is essential. Research a variety of policies, read the fine print, understand what it is covering your for, know your exclusions, and go with a company that has a trusted rating and an excellent customer service record.

Comment: How will your travels in 2021 align with these trends? Do you foresee something different?

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