A huge scare threatening the lives of our loved ones and ourselves such as a pandemic can transform a lot. Including our travel habits. Already, travel industry giants are seeing different trends rising as COVID-19 continues to change our lives.
According to Airbnb, “In 2021, travel will continue to be less about tourism and more about living, working and connecting safely away from home.” This means less air travel, less country hopping, going local and staying longer at destinations that are less likely to be overcrowded with tourists.
So far, we’ve mostly seen travel as an escape but it has become evident with the pandemic that it is essential to our mental wellbeing. We want to explore new territories, we want to learn about new cultures and we want to meet people who have different experiences than us.
Here’s why I think ecotourism will be the new travel trend in 2021 and how COVID-19 will change our travel habits.
Photo credit: Ostap Senyu
Working Abroad, Staying Longer
It’s getting clear that remote work is here to stay. Digital nomads are not a new thing – but an entire digital industry going nomad, is well, mad!
Thanks to remote work, we can explore alternative ways to live and work outside the regular home-commute-office-commute-home routine. Even if we have families. After all, even kids are jumping on Zoom calls, I mean classes.
So yes, Airbnb and Skyscanner both remark that remote working at new destinations is a coming travel trend in 2021. And these destinations don’t seem to be popular European cities. Because why would you go to an overcrowded tourist destination; when you probably need to book everything in advance, even the restaurants where you’ll dine at.
Instead, you can go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, somewhere that might be really far away but worth the trip… Somewhere that you can stay longer and experience what it’s like to live and work there. Experiencing what it’s like to be a local is often much better for the local community financially, than receiving an influx of tourists who come to stay at these destinations for a few days only – making locals dependent on tourism seasonally.
Exploring What’s Closer to Home
Travellers who are slightly more careful can travel domestically, instead of topping up their air miles. Road trips to undersung gems close to home will also be popular, which is good news for local communities living there, who deserve the extra attention, especially during these times.
Road trips to domestic destinations mean decreased carbon emissions for the travel industry, and increased income for people who live in these destinations. For travellers, they provide an opportunity to get closer to family, discover more authentic experiences and get a better cultural understanding of different regions in their own country.
Although it’s not a popular discussion when it comes to travel, segregation in society is more present than ever and travel can provide an insight into how “others” live, who they vote for and why – which has an impact on our world if you look at the bigger picture.
Photo credit: Diogo Tavares
Bigger Groups of Travellers
As COVID-19 threatens the mixing of different generations, the importance of spending time with family has grown. We want to be with family and dear friends more, we want to make valuable memories with them. That’s why big travel groups are promising to be another rising travel trend in 2021.
People are also finding it hard to meet new people and be around strangers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can push travellers toward adventure travel, volunteer travel, yoga retreats, or similar travel arrangements that allow them to be around new people.
Photo credit: Simon Migaj
Seeking Anxiety Relief Through Travel
Wellness travel has been on a consistent rise even before Gwyneth Paltrow was born, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need anxiety relief and to reconnect with new people and communities more than ever. So yoga retreats, immunity-boosting holidays, meditation travel, mindfulness, detox and spa retreats will be booming. This also means slow travel will become more widespread and we will adopt a quality over quantity mindset.
People are spending more time outdoors and in nature as COVID-19 is less likely to transmit in open spaces. Spending more time in nature; hiking, cycling, camping, climbing, sea kayaking, swimming will be considered more seriously and this trend is likely to fix our relationship to nature, with a positive impact on climate crisis awareness.
Photo credit: Elio Santos
Rediscovering Your Own City
Do you really need to go anywhere at all when you live in a big, busy city? Travel can be redefined for locals who haven’t yet discovered the hidden gems in their own neighbourhood. Rediscovering your city can prove to be a mindblowing travel experience too if you’re willing to give it a shot.
You can take a trip to the other side of the river, enjoy a tour you’ve never been on before and pretend to be a tourist in your own city. You can visit the art galleries you’ve never seen, or treat yourself to food you’ve never had. Lucky city kids will be able to educate themselves on different cultures and food in their own city.
Are you a Londoner? Check out the eco-friendly tours in London.
To sum up the above points I talked about (TLDR):
– Overtourism will be in decline
– Air travel will be less frequent
– Domestic travel will increase
– New and unexplored destinations will be sought after
– Travel will bring people together once more, strangers and families alike
– Remote work will open people up to new travel opportunities or living arrangements
Featured Image: David Marcu