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Travel buzz

Top travel trends & trending destinations for 2021

Jan 01, 2021 by Emily Houston

Change. It's the only constant in travel right now. From expectations to destinations, everything's just a little different. So we dove into our booking data from the past couple of months to show you how the trends in travel have shifted for 2021 and what the hot spots will be this year. Check it out.


1. Travel “bubbles” are on the rise

More travelers are taking off with tighter-knit groups, and private custom tours are big right now too. It’s not just because of COVID, either. People are finding it’s a more intimate experience too.

Check out some of our Small Group Tours:

Food & Wine: Flavors of Tuscany & Umbria

Kenya Wildlife Safari: Mount Kenya, Maasai Mara & Amboseli

Thailand: The Golden Kingdom

See all our small group tours >


2. The UK and Ireland are the top places to travel in 2021

Move over Italy, we have new traveler-favorite destinations in town! The UK and Ireland have taken the top spots and we can see why. From the moors that stretch across the Scottish Highlands to the craggy coastline in Ireland (looking at you, Cliffs of Moher!), your camera may never be able to fully capture the beauty of this corner of the globe.

See where to travel in 2021 in the UK and Ireland:

Scotland & the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Highlights of England, Scotland & Ireland

Ireland Walking Tour

Explore our tours to Great Britain & Ireland >


3. Italy following closely behind

Ok, you had to have known Italy would always have a little slice of our heart! If it’s not for the country’s endless varieties of pizza pies, it’s because there’s truly a way for every type of traveler to live out la dolce vita while in Italy. Want to make some of that classic cuisine? Set off on a Food & Wine Tour. Looking to lace up your walking shoes and be one with nature? A Walking Tour is the perfect fit. Hoping to really dive into an iconic city like Rome or Florence? Spend a week doing just that on a City Stay.

Start planning a trip to Italy:

Food & Wine: Northern Italy & the Alba Truffle Festival

Florence: The City Experience

See all our Italy tours >


4. Travelers will be booking on the fly

If you’re anything like us, your bags are packed and you’re itching to get out of dodge. All you need now is the world to give the all-clear. As the COVID vaccine rolls out and countries slowly open up, we expect travelers to book a lot of last-minute trips to the first place that will welcome them. If you’re lucky, that’ll be your dream destination, but at this point, most of us would settle for anywhere but our couch.

Join one of our Spring 2021 trips:

Paris: The City Experience

Food & Wine: A Taste of Spain

London: The City Experience


5. Trips to Central America are on the rise

Pineapple farms, Machu Picchu, pico de gallo—we can see why so many travelers are planning their 2021 trips to Central America. Plus, on our new Small Group Tours you can go off-the-beaten-path and explore destinations like Costa Rica, Peru, Patagonia, and more alongside a group of just 10–22 travelers.

Explore an up-and-coming destination in 2021:

Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife

Highlights of Central America: Costa Rica & Panama

View all our guided trips to Central America >


6. People want to explore their own backyard & stay local

Future trends in the tourism industry show you don’t need to travel far to have a grand adventure. Trips to the U.S. and Canada are growing in popularity since they’re the perfect way to start exploring the world again, while enjoying the comfort of being close to home. Want to know our travel predictions for 2021? The national parks are going to be the places the be.

Top-rated places to travel in 2021 in the U.S. and Canada:

Canadian Rockies by Train: Banff, Lake Louise & Vancouver

U.S. National Parks: The Grand Canyon to Yellowstone

U.S. National Parks: The Rockies to Yellowstone


7. There is growing interest in off-the-beaten-path places in Europe

Places like Italy and Greece often top the list of the biggest trends in travel destinations. But, when it comes to 2021 travel, people are looking to explore these places in a new way. Travelers are trading Santorini’s deep-blue ocean water for the jewel-toned falls in Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park, while hidden gems like Lake Bled in Slovenia are quickly becoming some of the top places to visit in 2021.

Discover where to travel in 2021 to see another side of Europe:

Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic

Bulgaria, Serbia & Romania

Greece, the Balkans & Croatia

Learn more about our Europe tours >


8. Exploring natural landscapes and the outdoors of the Nordic countries

Scandinavia is feeling the love for travel in 2021—and we’d say that the beauty of Norway’s fjord country and Iceland’s otherworldly landscapes have a little something to do with that. The opportunity to explore the great outdoors is what attracts many travelers to the Nordic region, and it just so happens that getting outside is one of the trends in travel for the upcoming year.

Places to travel in 2021 that will get you into the great outdoors:

Iceland: Reykjavik & the Golden Circle

Highlights of Scandinavia: Sweden, Norway & Denmark

View all our Nordic Country tours >


9. Destinations featuring wide-open spaces

Like we said, travel trends show us that people are looking to escape into nature! Having the opportunity to roam around and feel like you have an entire travel attraction to yourself is truly an unmatched experience. Wide-open space is the name of the travel game right now—and one of the most important travel trends for 2021. From experiencing geological wonders in Petra to getting up close to wildlife in Botswana, travelers are looking to uncover hidden gems of the destinations that may not be as well-traveled. Plus, some of the best local spots are tucked away in hidden towns and tiny villages. (That’s where having an expert Tour Director comes in handy!)

Seek out the best-hidden gems of these destinations on tour:

Botswana & Zimbabwe Wildlife Safari

Landscapes of Scotland & Ireland

Israel, Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids


10. People are looking to hit the road for 10 to 12 days

When it comes to 2021 travel trends, people can’t wait to get away—and they’re making sure to block off their calendars now! Travelers are searching for trips that are a week-and-a-half long. Some of our top places to visit in 2021 fall into this time frame and are also part of our new Small Group Tour portfolio. That means you’ll have over a week to take part in immersive activities alongside just 10–22 travelers in off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Plan a week-and-a-half-long trip:

Food & Wine: A Taste of Portugal

Botswana & Zimbabwe Wildlife Safari

Northern Italy & Cinque Terre Walking Tour


11. October, November, and December are when travel will be at its peak

We’ve always loved traveling in the off-season. Lower prices. Fewer crowds. Festive events. Seasonal cuisine (don’t even get us started on all the fresh foods you’ll only find on the menu for a few months out of the year). 2021 travel trends show that this the best-kept travel secret is out, but truth be told, we’re excited that so many people are joining in on travel trends like this.

Grand Tour of Portugal & Spain: Porto to Barcelona

Provence, the Riviera & Tuscany

A Week in Eastern Europe: Prague, Kraków & Budapest

Learn more about the benefits of traveling in the off-season >

Which future travel trends are getting you excited to get out and see the world in 2021? Tell us on our Facebook page!

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About the author | Emily Houston
Emily loves the simple travel moments—like watching hours pass by in minutes while sharing a meal and a laugh (or many) with her friends and family. Outside the office, you'll find Emily listening to anything and everything John Mayer, attempting to cook a New York Times recipe, or dreaming up her next trip.

Book a tour to one of the top places to travel in 2021

Food & Wine: A Taste of Portugal
11 days | 15 days with Madeira & Lisbon extension

4.6 out of 5 stars

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