The last year and a half has certainly been different, and it’s making current travel trends look a little different, too. As the world begins to open back up, people are exploring it in ways unlike ever before.
Whether it’s revenge travel to bucket list destinations or domestic tours in our own backyards, we’re exploring the 2021 travel trends everyone’s talking about right now.
After spending so much time at home, people all around the world are eager to get out there. It’s creating a trend called “revenge travel,” and it means exactly what you might think: traveling to “get revenge on” the time we spent not being able to get out and see the world. Our experts believe it’s many individuals’ way of regaining the control we lost during the brunt of 2020.
Now that we can travel, walking along the mesmerizing Cliffs of Moher on a weeklong Ireland tour or hiking through the lush flora and fauna of a sloud forest on a trip to Costa Rica has never sounded so good.
“I was drawn to Belize for Mayan ruins, but enjoyed beach resorts, rainforest wildlife (toucans, iguanas, monkeys, and crocodiles), snorkeling with turtles, rays, coral, and fish, and chatting with locals just as much,” said traveler Tara, who went on both A Week in Belize and Iceland: Reykjavik & the Golden Circle this year. “Reykjavik’s a charming seaside town. I saw the most stunning waterfalls, walked inside a glacier, and loved floating in the cozy and picturesque Blue Lagoon!”
Another top travel trend is traveling solo. According to our recent survey, there was a 39% growth in interest for going solo from May through July compared to February through April.
After waiting so long to be able to travel, many travelers aren’t willing to wait for their friends or family to be free, and are booking trips on their own. In fact, many experts are saying that now’s the best time to travel solo. The benefit of going guided as a solo traveler is that you’re not really alone because new friends are just a seat away. It’s also empowering, venturing out on your own. Plus, there are usually deals for solo travelers (wink wink).
Splurging on experiences
This 2021 travel trend is all about a shift in values. Many of us are spending more on travel than we would have in the past—and enjoying every penny of it. Whether it’s sunbathing on tour in Santorini or spotting leopards on safari in Kenya, it’s on-trend to make your travel dreams come true. Because after a year without having many, our experiences are everything.
“Experiences are worth so much more than a meal or a piece of clothing—especially right now,” says traveler Lauren. “Spending on travel is even easier to justify because we haven’t been spending on trips or shows, or even going out.”
Another one of the top trends in travel and tourism that our experts have noticed is that people are spending less time planning their trips. In fact, a large portion of summer travel in 2021 is being booked last-minute.
With travel prices predicted to increase soon, many are making the most of the latest travel deals and getting out there now—even if it’s not what they originally planned for. Because if you could spend next weekend sipping wine on the streets of Italy or swimming in the sapphire waves on the Croatian coast, why wouldn’t you?
“By nature, I’m a bit of a last-minute person,” said staffer Claire. “Planning trips two to three weeks out (or less!) is pretty common for me. I love the rush of booking something on a whim and having something great I wasn’t really expecting to come together. Plus, if you’re lucky, you can find great last-minute rates on flights and hotels! Being open to the unexpected is where you find the real magic of any location.”
Exploring our own backyards
Domestic travel has always been an option, but it’s been a very long time since this many Americans have taken advantage of the stunning sites all around us.
U.S. national parks tours are among the top travel trends because of how easy they are to go on. There’s no need to get or renew your passport, they’re primarily outdoors, and vaccines aren’t required—making national parks a great vacation option for families with younger kids, too.
“This tour was exceptional!” said traveler Larry, who went on our U.S. National Parks: The Grand Canyon to Yellowstone tour. “Excellent Tour Director, wonderful sites to explore, we had a blast. I would encourage everyone to take this tour to go and visit our beautiful national parks.”
More trips to more rural areas
It’s not just national parks that people are visiting more. It’s anywhere rural—from charming small towns, to stunning farmlands, to vast mountains and deserts. These places are less crowded, more affordable, and a bit different than what we’re used to, and that’s part of the appeal.
In fact, an AirDNA survey reported that vacation demand for large, urban areas is down by 46%, as compared to 2019. Small cities and rural areas are already pacing 62% higher than they were in 2019.
As more individuals seek the roads less traveled, stunning sites like the vast countryside of France’s Loire Valley and the crystal-clear coast of Algarve, Portugal, become even more appealing. A cable car ride above the untouched Llobregat River Valley to the Monastery of Montserrat in Spain, anyone?
Shopping by deals, rather than location
All those who have experienced wanderlust can understand: Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter where we go, as long as we can go somewhere. Well, turns out, a lot of people are feeling this way this year. So, it’s no surprise that one of the top trends in travel right now is shopping by deals, rather than location alone.
With prices predicted to skyrocket as demand for flights and hotels grows, being able to find travel deals is even more important. People are booking trips to bucket list destinations just as much as they are to the spots they never even considered, and having a great time just the same.