According to Booking.com, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel plans for 2021 is changing not just our choice of destination but also the type of trips we’re most likely to take in the coming year.
It has revealed these five emerging trip types for 2021 to motivate and inspire travelers to take a trip to best fit their newfound travel preferences.
1. Solace in Solo
Solo travel is likely to gather even greater momentum as people’s desire to travel will nudge them to take the plunge to travel on their own in 2021. Booking.com's data pre-pandemic saw only 17% of travelers planning a trip on their own, while 30% now say they will plan a solo trip in the future. With 42% of travelers saying they want to travel more in the future to make up for travel time lost in 2020, this mentality is no doubt encouraging travelers to plan a solo trip of a lifetime.
For those going it alone, we have compiled a guide to 10 destinations perfect for solo travel and tips on how to solo travel on a budget. Stephanie Yeboah's guide to the most welcoming destinations according to black women traveling solo is very helpful, and if you need some inspiration, check out what it’s like to travel solo as a female in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s and this tale of why one woman is rowing solo from California to Hawaii.
The unexpected halt to travel plans has meant that just being able to travel at all is a luxury. So while research shows that travelers still have a high intention to travel again, only 13% are now actually planning a luxury getaway, such as a villa or 5-star hotel. The majority (51%) are planning a relaxing trip to get away from it all, making relaxation the real luxury of 2021.
If you're looking for a trip that combines relaxation with luxury, check out a new cruise ship that is set to sail around Venice next spring, or consider staying at a luxury tented camp in Kenya and seeing the world’s last two northern white rhinos. Fans of water may want to check out a resort that floats on water that is set to open in Dubai, while lovers of trains may fancy staying at a train-hotel on a bridge over Kruger National Park.
3. Breakaway Bubbles
Most travelers had extended time apart from friends and family in 2020, and Booking.com found that distance appears to have made the heart grow fonder. Its research indicates that 61% of travelers plan to use future travel as an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones, and 36% of travelers revealed that talking to friends and family in recent months about traveling is one of their main inspirations to travel again.
We at Lonely Planet also felt that traveling with friends and family would be a big feature of 2021's vacationing, and we investigated what exactly travel pods are. Check out unlikely destinations for an unforgettable family holiday and for those keen on ecotourism, we have outlined the 10 best sustainable trips for families. We all love a bargain so check out our best-value destinations for family-friendly city breaks, and if you want fancy heading to the piste with your loved ones, these are the top family-friendly ski trips in the French Alps.
4. Weekend Wonders
With many travelers feeling apprehensive that future travel plans could be disrupted again, research suggests that there will be an increased demand for quick trips. Over half of travelers (53%) want to take shorter breaks in 2021 than they did in 2019 to minimize any disappointment. A further 28% also revealed their preference of a weekend break for their first trip once restrictions are lifted, showing travelers’ desires to be able to escape reality, even for just a few days.
We wondered ourselves whether COVID-19 had killed the city break, and examined what parts of Europe are deemed best for a short stay. Savvy travelers may wish to investigate where autumn’s cheapest cultural city breaks can be found, and skiers might enjoy these city breaks in Austria and Germany.
5. Food for Thought
Local travel is the new way of exploring the world, with culinary delights being top of the list. And with tastebuds at the ready, 36% of travelers are keen to taste and indulge in local cuisine while traveling, with 38% wanting to eat out more often with the money saved from not traveling abroad.
Foodies should have a read of how to experience Italy's Slow Food movement, check out Texas' 10 best food experiences and find out why food and culture fans need to explore inland Croatia. Have a look at the world's top 10 food experiences, taken from our book, Ultimate Eatlist, and why not consider eating your way through these 5 unexpected US foodie destinations? To delve deeper into Booking.com’s predictions for the future of travel, please visit here.
How 2021 will become the year of purposeful travel
Lonely Planet writers look ahead to 2021 and the first trips they can take