After the impact of the pandemic on travel in 2020, how are we likely to holiday in 2021?
Many of us have been missing the benefits of getting away this year, from catching rays on the beach to discovering new cultures.
From immunity-boosting breaks to regenerative travel, we reveal the new trends you will be seeing when you book your next trip.
Up in the air
Treehouse enquiries are now ‘booming’ according to Airbnb. Aptly, this autumn wrought the five off-grid Treehouses at Lanrick: eco-conscious dens affording outdoor baths and 250-square-foot terraces beside central Scotland’s River Teith.
About to rival them are four vineyard treehouses at Hampshire’s Fullerton Farm, each featuring fizz-filled fridges and available through Canopy & Stars.
Elsewhere, Nirjhara and Treeful are sustainable resorts shortly to open in jungle canopies amid southwestern Bali and Japanese island Okinawa respectively. Most mind-boggling is the three-floor sleepout within a giant baobab at Botswana’s Xigera Safari Lodge, due this January.
Holidaying at home
Staycations aren’t going anywhere: Kuoni, Abercrombie & Kent and adventure experts Gane & Marshall all launched inaugural UK ranges in 2020; English Holiday Cruises sailed record numbers along sedate Gloucestershire waterways (as global cruising largely paused); and Expedia’s biggest growth destination was British coastal towns.
Aided by foreign-travel obstacles, the absence of inbound tourists and our growing eco-consciousness, staycations are likely to snowball even faster next year – with the lesser-visited likes of Lincolnshire or Scotland’s Borders perhaps coming to the fore.
Big is beautiful
They’ve been called bucket-list ticking or once-in-a-lifetime trips, and variously ascribed to pent-up travel frustration. And they’re proving very popular for operators. Wild Frontiers’ best-faring trip of late?
Its 48-day Great Silk Road Adventure across Central Asia. For small-group firm Intrepid Travel, expeditions to Antarctica, Japan, Peru and Ecuador rank among 2021’s most-booked trips.
In wider terms, safaris are already proving popular with families, and luxury stays are appealing, perhaps because some people have managed to save money during the pandemic due to not taking a holiday this year.
If 2020 proved anything, it’s that all many of us need to do our job is a laptop and a decent wi-fi connection – human interaction notwithstanding.
If you are having to work remotely, moving your office to somewhere sunny sounds like a no-brainer, particularly with dozens of countries adapting their visa policies to try and attract more digital nomads.
Sunny islands from Barbados to Bermuda are offering residency programmes or visas of up to a year, while you can also take your pick from Mauritius (which has introduced a one-year premium visa scheme) and Thailand (which is promoting ‘linger longer’ travel with the recent extension of its 30-day tourist visa to 60 days).
In Europe, Georgia, Germany, Croatia and Estonia are all currently, or about to, make longer-term stays easier for freelance or remote workers.
The Great Outdoors
The triple whammy of global travel restrictions, temporary lockdowns and safe-distancing demands led millions of us to better appreciate being outside. This is spilling into travel: as a recent survey by holiday-rental aggregator HomeToGo revealed that nearly all searches now concern trips to rural areas, UK operator Sunvil reported similar interest to the likes of Swedish Lapland or the Greek isle Amorgos.
Echoing that, The Travel Corporation – whose brands include 18-35 specialist Contiki – says that US and Canadian national parks are currently among its 2021 top-sellers, perfect for reconnecting with nature.
Immunity-boosting is all the rage. A six-day Stronger Immune Package at Northamptonshire’s Homefield Grange (homefield grangeretreat.co.uk), for instance, includes a vitamin B12 shot and a magnesium foot bath.
Overseas, defence-fortifying programmes have been unveiled at south-eastern Spain’s SHA Wellness Clinic and two German medi-spas: Buchinger Wilhelmi, beside Lake Constance, and Villa Stéphanie in the Black Forest, featuring treatments such as ozone therapy and micronutrient infusions.
Prefer some guaranteed rays? Health & Fitness Travel can also package up an offering at Thai wellness resort Kamalaya on Koh Samui.
‘Regenerative’ trips are ones on which holidaymakers leave a place richer than they find it – typically via such actions as prioritising local economies, cleansing nature or avoiding destinations blighted by overtourism.
To get involved, consider operators such as G Adventures, which has joined the Future of Tourism coalition, or the carefully vetted hotel and resorts endorsed by agency Regenerative Travel.
Carbon-positive hotels such as the new, timber-clad Hotel Green Solution House on Danish isle Bornholm will be in vogue.
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