By Katie Wilson
With 2020 being the year travel was put on pause, most of us can’t wait for the adventures 2021 will bring.
But talk of lockdown restrictions not being lifted until April 12 at the earliest means it will still be a while before trips resemble any kind of normality, particularly abroad.
From ‘wandermust’ to the rise of WFH (that’s Work From Hotel), these are the biggest travel trends to look out for in 2021 and beyond.
So much time spent at home has left us craving the outside world more than ever. And where once travel may have been considered a luxury for some, it is now a necessity, hence the term ‘wandermust’.
Two-thirds (69%) of travellers told Booking.com they will appreciate the simple things in 2021, such as spending time outdoors or with family. While over half (56%) said they will seek out more rural and off-the-beaten track holiday destinations.
Multi-generational group trips are also set to become a big travel trend for 2021 as people make up for all the family time lost in 2020.
For back to nature trips in the UK, Canopy and Stars is our go-to for quirky accommodation. While Fforest in west Wales offers next-level glamping for all the family. Stays vary from a Japanese onsen dome to a Scandi-style farmhouse.
And if you’re feeling really brave, check out these amazing staycations where you can bathe al fresco.
Sustainability is arguably top of the travel trends for 2021, as we turn our attention to how we travel, rather than just where we travel.
Winners include Gothenburg, which was awarded Best City Stay for its pledge to go carbon-neutral by 2030 – and the fact 95% of its hotels are already green certified.
Closer to home, spa hotel The Scarlet in Cornwall has won a host of sustainability awards since it opened in 2009. The PIG-at Combe in Devon was refurbished with second-hand materials and runs a social enterprise partnership which donates all its profits to Water Aid.
And the Treehouse Hotel London was built on eco-conscious operations, such as reclaimed wood, a recycling program and their commitment to reducing single-use plastics.
360 Degree Wellness
The pandemic has forced us to think about our health and immunity more than ever, and this is reflected in the wellness treatments hotels are now offering.
When the new Pan Pacific hotel with views of The Gherkin opens in London in spring 2021, there is set to be an entire wellness floor complete with 18-metre infinity pool.
Further afield, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is running Journey to Resilience, a new wellness retreat designed to help us recover from the past year, focusing on positivism, purpose, resourcefulness and compassion.
A spokesperson for Bacchus PR, who represent Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, told The Boutique Handbook: ‘This year has highlighted the importance of a healthy lifestyle to the extreme. Wellness is not just spas, but medical health.
‘Luxury travellers are choosing health retreats, immunity boost measures, detoxing, fitness from home, and nutrition to stay strong – and considering health as a leading priority after a year of lockdown.’
Tech innovation is set to play a crucial role in rebuilding traveller confidence in 2021, and this will happen in a variety of ways.
In addition to the latest tech to keep us Covid-19 safe, travellers say they want more socially distanced options in hotels, such as contactless check-in desks.
A survey of over 20,000 people across 28 countries by Booking.com found more than half (53%) of travellers also wanted tech options to make last-minute reservations at restaurants and other experiences.
And almost a quarter (21%) want more self-service machines instead of ticket desks to avoid face-to-face contact with travel workers.
Another good thing to come out of 2020 is a heightened sense of travellers wanting to give something back to the communities they visit, particularly amongst the millennial generation, who are the most ethical travellers ever.
In the future, travel is set to be less sightseeing and more ‘life seeing’, and people will seek out more authentic experiences which benefit locals.
Notable social enterprises in the UK include Invisible Cities, which trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides.
For trips further afield, Responsible Travel has an entire section dedicated to locally tun holidays, from activity based trips, to volunteering and supporting women-owned businesses.
While Intrepid Retreats offers similar excursions, ranging from drinking whisky in the Scottish highlands to trekking through Jordan.
Blow-out and Bucket List Trips
With so many holidays and celebrations cancelled in the past year, 2021 is set to be the year of the blow-out vacation, so book that bucket-list trip you’ve always wanted to take.
Top locations for when it’s safe to travel include South Africa, New Zealand and Antarctica, where there is a total lunar eclipse set to happen on December 4, 2021.
Party destinations such as Berlin, Mykonos and Ibiza are also expected to see a rise in bookings as people head to wherever there is a dance floor, even if it’s a socially distanced one.
Find more inspiration in our round-up of bucket list trips to take post-lockdown.
Staycation, Staycation, Staycation
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 2021 is going to be another year of staycations, with 47% of people planning to travel within their own country in the next seven to 12 months, according to research from Booking.com.
Just a fifth (21%) said they have plans to jump on a long-haul flight by the end of the year. This is a very different story to the first quarter of 2020, when Skyscanner revealed the top flight searches by Brits were to US locations such as New York, Las Vegas and Miami.
And there are some great new hotels opening in the next 12 months. Read the most exciting UK hotel openings for 2021.
WFH (Work From Hotel)
Digital nomads have been doing it for years, but 2021 will see more of us booking ‘workcations’, as working from home – or a fancy hotel – becomes the new normal.
The Maldives has already been touted as the ultimate Work From Hotel destination, if you’ve got the cash.
Vakkaru Maldives has a ‘Work Well’ package which includes a stay in a luxury villa, ‘Vacay PA’ and a bespoke fitness and nutritional programme – but it will set you back £18,300 for a month-long stay for two adults.
For slightly cheaper work-from-paradise options, Outsite has remote working retreats in the US, Barbados, Tulum, Costa Rica and Bali from around £1,000 a month which are definitely worth checking out.