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BY LISA A. BEACH
4 Travel Trends For 2021
As wanderlust intensifies, travel enthusiasts look forward to mapping out their vacations for 2021. After all, the new year promises a fresh start and travel opportunities continue to expand. Kick-start vacation planning with a look at these four 2021 travel trends.
1. Outdoor Adventures and Activities
After so much time spent indoors — especially over the last few winter months — people are clamoring to get outside and explore. On the agenda? Fresh air and open spaces, with the backdrop of natural beauty found in the great outdoors. Nature calls, whether that means a trip to the beach, a hike in the woods, a run down the ski slopes, or a boating adventure on the lake. Just like in 2020, travelers will continue to embrace outdoors-focused experiences until the pandemic is gone or under control.
Outdoor activities pose less risk for the spread of COVID-19, thanks to the open air and easier social distancing. But here’s an added benefit: research shows that spending time in nature decreases stress and boosts mental health.
2. Go Local
With so many small businesses hit hard during the pandemic, there’s a renewed interest in staying close to home and reviving the local economy. In 2021, travelers will visit hidden community gems and support local businesses. That might mean a staycation, but it could also mean exploring lesser-known destinations within driving distance.
This will be a much-needed boon for mom-and-pop restaurants, farmers markets, bakeries, craft breweries, artisan crafters, and even quirky roadside attractions. Plus, this helps shine the light on many of a community’s best-kept secrets such as museums, art galleries, science centers, zoos, historical sites, and gardens.
3. Destination Trends
While travelers still hunger for international trips, border restrictions might still make traveling abroad difficult right now. That’s why domestic travel will drive the tourism industry’s recovery. Staycations and road trips will continue, but many airlines have increased their domestic flights, making accessibility even easier.
Where will people vacation? According to Expedia's 2021 Travel Trends report, the majority of travelers want destinations that offer seclusion, warm beaches, and are easy to get to. Top U.S. destinations include Las Vegas, Orlando, Maui/Oahu, and Miami (near Fort Lauderdale). Similarly, travel search engine Skyscanner recently reported the most searched for U.S. locations include New York, Honolulu, Los Angeles (near Anaheim), and Orlando.
4. Safety Is a Priority
While the traditionally more crowded venues (like theme parks and casinos) will still be a top draw, the experience might look different, with enhanced cleaning, social distancing, mobile purchases, mask requirements, and reduced capacity. Ditto for restaurants and bars, which is a good thing. Why? We’ve heard from you, and nearly half of you feel that dining outdoors is safe and you’re more interested in dining outdoors than any other vacation activity.
With that in mind, travelers will likely seek restaurants and bars with patios and outdoor spaces. That might mean dining on the secluded patios of Sinatra at Encore Las Vegas, sipping craft cocktails outside at Stubborn Mule in Orlando, or soaking in the city views at Astra's garden-themed rooftop patio in Miami.
No matter where you visit, check your intended destination for current travel guidelines, quarantine requirements, restrictions, resort status, and health and safety protocols.