What Travel in 2021 Looks Like, Based on Consumer Reports
With the COVID-19 vaccine available throughout the U.S. and several other countries, there is hope that a return to normalcy is on the horizon.
The travel industry has been hard at work trying to predict what travel in 2021 will look like as the year progresses. We’ve looked at six consumer reports on 2021 travel trends and summarized their most interesting findings, adding our own expert opinions and views on the topic.
Before we give you our take, though, we want to emphasize that, while we look to the future of travel with hope, it is also important to continue taking pandemic precautions and avoiding putting yourself or anyone else at unnecessary risk.
Travel Will Be Back With a Vengeance
All six reports deliver one important message: Travel will come back stronger than ever in the second half of 2021.
Apparently, we all suffered a case of not knowing what we had until we lost it, and now that getting it back is finally in the horizon of possibilities, we don’t plan on making that mistake again. A January report by Airbnb claims that travel is more important now than ever to 41 percent of Americans.
After a year of being in quarantine, spent mostly looking at the same four walls, people want to get back out into the great wide world. According to a VRBO report, 65 percent of respondents plan on traveling more than they did pre-pandemic.
Being away from the people we love and facing a collective loss on a global scale has given us new perspectives on where our priorities should be. Perhaps this is why VRBO outlines quality time with family as the main reason more than 30 percent of survey takers want to travel.
In short: We are eager and ready to get back to traveling.
Our Take: The Travel Comeback
Like everyone, we are hopeful and excited for a future where travel is possible. However, the travel community should remember that not everything was roses and rainbows before the pandemic.
Overtourism plagued destinations like Venice and Boracay, which were rendered almost inhabitable for locals by the invasion of tourists. One of the few silver linings of the pandemic was the chance to reset the way we travel in order to make it economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
As you go back into the world in 2021, spend more time and money traveling responsibly.
Breaking the Piggy Bank
People aren’t just planning on traveling more, but also plan on spending more money on travel.
Given the economic climate, this is somewhat counterintuitive. However, those able to put money away have saved about $3,400 for their next trip, as per a 2021 Travel Trends Report from Expedia Group.
Hospitality Net, which compiled several sources of data from TripAdvisor, concluded that the trips people are planning in 2021 are 13 percent more expensive than trips planned in January 2019, a full year before anyone had even heard of COVID-19. The same report saw 21 percent of people plan on throwing monetary caution to the wind and splurging on luxury accommodations.
Our Take: Travel Money
People have been depriving themselves for an entire year, so it is only natural that they would want to spend the money they earned working longer hours than ever on amazing experiences and pampering themselves.
Travel can be a force of good when done correctly. A second Airbnb report affirms that post-pandemic new hosts have collectively made more than a billion dollars. Three in 10 of them in the U.S. have used that money to pay rent or mortgage, and another 10 percent have used it for healthcare, the report says. This is a perfect example of how travel can help boost local economies, but it takes a commitment to support local businesses whenever possible.
People Are Ready to Take to the Skies
Another interesting insight from these reports is that air travel will probably be making its comeback tour soon. Flight searches into big cities like Miami and New York are trending, explains the Expedia report.
People also want to travel internationally again, with a TripAdvisor report revealing that 47 percent of global responders have a trip across borders in the works. This is corroborated by the Expedia study, which states that the No. 1 flight search for U.S. consumers right now is Cancun, Mexico.
Travelers also seem to support vaccine passports, with two-thirds of TripAdvisor’s global survey participants giving the idea the thumbs up. People feel safer knowing that countries are taking measures to protect themselves.
Our Take: Flying Again
The CDC announced that it may be possible for vaccinated people to spread the virus, so don’t use the vaccine as a free pass.
Just because a country doesn’t have a travel ban doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to go there. Take into consideration the risk you may be putting locals in, particularly in destinations where they may be lacking adequate health services.
Air travel also has a significant environmental impact, contributing to 3.5 percent of global warming. Plan to travel more slowly and pursue deeper experiences rather than country hopping.
But the Road Won’t Be Left Behind
The end of the pandemic won’t really affect road trips, with 53 percent of people claiming to look forward to a road trip in the VRBO survey. This is particularly true with families, 59 percent of which are more likely to drive than fly this year, the same report maintained.
And if those numbers aren’t impressive enough, RV searches have gone up a staggering 162 percent, asserts a LendingTree report. At least for the near future, the road will continue to be king.
Our Take: Road Trips
Given that putting everyone in a car is more socially distanced and less expensive than flying, we highly encourage people to continue road tripping. Driving to nearby locations with your quaranteam seems intuitively safer than brushing shoulders with hundreds of strangers at the airport.
Road trips also give you a chance to support local businesses along your route, practice slow travel, see small towns and visit national parks — all things we are fans of.
Although we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, there are still real, life-threatening risks involved with traveling during a pandemic. Try to hold off leisure travel for the future when more people are vaccinated and risks are lower. If you do travel, keep avoiding crowded places and always wear your mask.
With that in mind, use the remainder of the pandemic to keep planning an absolutely amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip. After all, we’ve earned it.