The start of a new decade usually provides the perfect opportunity for travellers to switch up how they see the world and embrace new travel trends.
That was, until the Coronavirus pandemic hit.
In the last year, travel has almost come to a complete standstill, with flights cancelled, hotels closing and rules on travel ‘corridors’ changing on a weekly, if not daily, basis. As a result, many of us put our travel plans on hold and began to embrace the idea of holidays in the UK; booking country cottages with a ‘bubble’, enjoying staycations on the coast or ‘glamping‘ under the stars.
But with reports that a vaccine for Covid-19 might arrive in the spring, we’re starting to get itchy feet and think of all of the possibilities that might be afforded to us if we can embrace travel once again if the pandemic’s threat reduces.
‘2020 has been a year like no other and while it will be some time before travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, all signs point to the fundamental and enduring role that travel plays in all our lives,’ says Arjan Dijk, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Booking.com.
‘It continues to bring moments of joy and inspiration to people across the globe during times of uncertainty, whether through dreaming and planning, or cherishing the trips we have been able to take.’
So while we might have to wait a while until we decide where we want to travel to in 2021, it might be time to start thinking about how we want to travel in the months following the health crisis. Fortunately, Booking.com has surveyed 20,934 people across 28 countries to find out the trends that they think will shape the way we travel in 2021 and beyond.
Here are our go-to list of 2021 travel trends, to fulfil all your wanderlust dreams in the New Year:
With the majority of non-essentials workers continuing to work from home at least until the New Year, it’s safe to say that the stereotypical 9-to-5 office job is well and truly on a hiatus. And this is predicted to drastically affect the way we want to use up our annual leave in 2021.
Booking.com predicts that we’ll see a huge rise in the ‘workcation’, with travellers hoping to change up their WFH experiences by relocating. This could involve booking out a week or even a month to work away from home offices or factoring in holiday time around stints of remote working.
‘Expect laptops to become even more of a mainstay in luggage than ever before, and an attractive spot on which to rest them a must-have when choosing where to stay,’ the company notes.
The website also found that over a third (37 per cent) of travellers have considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 40 per cent would be willing to quarantine for up to two weeks if they could work remotely.
2020 has put into perspective the importance of embracing the small and simple things in life, which might explain why so many of us are looking forward to enjoying laidback holidays in 2021.
Hiking and relaxing will be key travel trends in the coming years, with more and more travellers hoping to prioritise spending time in the great outdoors with family and friends. Booking.com notes that over half (56 per cent) of its survey’s participants will be seeking out rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences to ‘immerse themselves into the outdoors’.
You can also expect a change in how people want to holiday, with 42 per cent now hoping to stay in a holiday rental as opposed to a hotel, which contrasts to a staggering 64 per cent of people preferring to stay in hotels in 2019.
Nurture That Nature
With many of us spending more time at home, it seems that we’ve had more time to consider the importance of looking after our health and environment, no more so thanks to the increased awareness surrounding sustainability.
More than half (53 per cent) of travellers are wanting to travel but sustainably in future and 69 per cent will expect increased numbers of sustainable travel options from companies. With less people wanting to visit locations during peak seasons to avoid overcrowding, there will also be an expectation for the travel industry to offer more off-season travel packages.
Bang For Your Buck
The pandemic has put many people in precarious financial situations, with some having to relocate and consider new career avenues to make ends meet. That’s why, when it comes to traveling, it’s never been more important for people to demand value for money. Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of travellers reported that they’ll be more price focussed when it comes to planning trips in future and more than half (55 per cent) will be on the look out for promotional deals and discounts/
And if you’re still waiting on money for cancelled 2020 flights to turn up in your bank account, rest assured that that three-quarters of people (74 per cent) want to use travel booking platforms in future so they’re in the know when it comes to cancelation policies, refund processes and travel insurance.
Moving forwards, transparency will be fundamental as the travel industry opens up again.
If traveling was previously considered a luxury, it’s now predicted to become a necessity post-pandemic to reinvigorate a fresh and positive outlook on life, whether that’s a day trip to a museum for free or a week-long séjour abroad.
During recent lockdowns two-thirds (65 per cent) of travellers reported being excited about traveling in the future, while 61 per cent suggested they are more appreciative of travel and won’t take it for granted when they can do so again.
More than ever, people want to see the outside world, with almost half (42 per cent) of us wanting to travel more in future to make up for lost holidays and time in 2020. Interestingly, over a third (38 per cent) want a trip to make up for a missed celebration (hello, 30th birthdays), and two fifths (40 per cent) want to rebook a trip they were forced to cancel in 2020.
Expect to see a heightened thirst for travel in 2021, with people wanting to do, see and experience more.
Next year, people around the world will have a newfound understanding of safety when it comes to traveling during the pandemic.
While 79 per cent of travellers will take extra precautions when it comes to jet setting, 59 per cent have admitted they’ll avoid certain destinations depending on Covid-19, and 70 per cent expect will be expecting tourist locations to allow for social distancing. In addition, some will opt to avoid public transport, which may result in more people opting to rent cars.
You can also expect more of us to be hot on health and safety measures, with two-thirds (67 per cent) accepting that spot checks on arrival at airports might become the norm, and 62 per cent stating they’d be happy to wear a mask in public.
However, unlike in recent months, less people will be willing to visit a location if they have to quarantine, with just 27 per cent admitting they’d do so.
Technology will be a key element in the travel industry in 2021, with many people believing that it will be crucial in controlling health risks while on the move and reassuring them that jet setting is safe.
Booking.com found that more than half (53 per cent) of travellers will want tech options to make last-minute restaurant reservations and a fifth (21 per cent) will hope to use self-service machines instead of having face-to-face interactions with those working in the travel sector.
Surprisingly, virtual reality (VR) might play more of an integral role in helping wanderlust travellers decide on holiday spots, with over a third (36 per cent) admitting to feeling comfortable to scouting out a destination using VR.
In between napping, working from home and watching Netflix, we’re spent the rest of our free time scrolling through old holiday photos and ‘liking’ any image of a beach on Instagram during lockdown. And, from the sounds of things, this need for travel content won’t change too much in the next year.
Almost all of us (95 per cent) have been spending much of our free time looking for travel inspiration, with over a third (38 per cent) looking at potential destinations as often as once a week!
Expect to see more people becoming mindful about how, where and when we share our traveling experiences in future, especially in a more restricted landscape, and how we share and engagement with others travel journeys and content.
If you were one of thousands of Britons this year who holidayed closer to home in 2020 due to travel restrictions, you’re in luck as ‘home travel’ will continue to be a big travel trend next year.
Booking.com found that almost half (47 per cent) of people still plan to travel within their own country in the next seven to 12 months, with 38 per cent planning to do so over the next year. Meanwhile, just a fifth (21 per cent) of people are hoping to jump on long-haul flights by the end of 2021.
Here’s to 2021!