There’s no doubt about it, the last few months have definitely been a challenging time but if this uncertain period of time in our history is telling us anything, it is to change the way that we are. As a species there will always be travel. We will always have that longing to want to escape the rat race and jet off to somewhere exotic to completely unwind, but there are ways to do it to reduce our impact.
So, when this passes and we have the freedom to explore again, what will be our new ‘normal’ and how can we make changes to do it better?
Each year, companies predict the new travel trend for the coming year, but this year is even more poignant. So what will the future of travel look like for 2021? After speaking to my partners in the travel industry and with the answers to our 2021 survey on how you are preparing to travel this year, here are my predictions.
1. Domestic Travel
Staycations has definitely been the buzz word lately and one trend for 2021 is domestic travel. With ongoing restrictions for international travel, the only alternative is to explore our own country, and as 2020 allowed us to gain a new appreciation for our home towns, this trend will continue in 2021. Renting a car or even a motorhome and taking to the road to see more of our own countryside will definitely be a trend, especially as many of us are feeling the need to connect more with nature.
2. Remote Working Holidays
As office space seems to be obsolete at the moment, many of us are working from home. In the summer last year when travel corridors allowed us to visit certain countries, countries were adapting to the new trend of remote workers and offering visas for longer stays than a tourist visa. People were working from Greek islands, and even as far as the Caribbean. Why work from your kitchen when you can work with a sea view?
Places such as Barbados and Georgia were offering attractive visas to entice foreigners to their country. Hotels in Dubai had packages including dinner plans and spa treatments and the hostel brand, Generator Hostels even had a 50% discount on their rooms to attract longer-stay visitors. Remote working helps to support the economy more and work remote programs help to benefit the local people. (I’ve been a digital nomad since 2014 and will be writing a post on this soon).
3. Slower Travel
With travel being more difficult to arrange and the cost of having to take a Covid test having to be factored into our trip costs, it makes sense to stay in another country for longer. This isn’t possible for those of us who only have a week break but if we are remote working, then we can stay somewhere longer and really get under the skin of a country and feel what it’s like to immerse ourselves within it rather than bypass it after seeing everything that we want to see.
Instead of taking flights (where it can be difficult to find direct flights at the moment). People are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and take a more slower, scenic route instead. I predict that road trips and train travel will be more popular ways of travelling around.
If there is something that solo travel has taught me over the last twenty-plus years it’s to be in the moment and slow down. I think the pandemic in general has taught us all to slow down and really appreciate what is around us, rather than constantly experience life at a high pace.
4. Conscious Travel
A deeper understanding of conscious travel and becoming more mindful of the way that we travel. Mindful of the impact that we have on the planet as the world has been forced to take a reset. We have shifted from overtourism to undertourism, especially in cities such as Venice and Dubrovnik, which were struggling to cope with the amount of tourists.
The pandemic has provided us with an opportunity to travel more consciously. To think about how the way that we travel impacts the environment and local communities, and to travel responsibly and respectfully, reducing our carbon footprint on the planet and looking for more sustainable ways to do it. Knowing how our tourism Pounds, Dollars, and Euros can benefit everyone. Sustainable initiatives are popping up in places such as Africa to ensure that properties are now more sustainable, and airlines are looking at eco-friendly ways to fly.
I believe there will be a greater appreciation for diversity and heritage, and an increase in cultural tourism where we feel a greater need to connect with other cultures in the places that we visit. Whether this is in a homestay, staying with locals and learning more about their way of life and cultures and traditions, or community-based tourism, staying in lesser-known destinations for a more authentic, meaningful experience. Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and affects so many people’s livelihoods. It’s important to do it as sustainably as we can.
The conscious ripple effect isn’t just about travel, it’s also taught us to be conscious of ourselves. Conscious of what we need and want in life and the things that are important to us. To have more compassion, for others, and a deeper understanding that we are all just trying our best to survive. To live our lives with ‘Maximum adventure, and minimum impact’ to ourselves and everyone who we meet on our journey.
Finally, 2021 will be the year that we no longer take travel for granted. When we really appreciate our freedom and being able to make our own choices. We may never go back to ‘normal’ but maybe what can be born out of this is a new way of being and a new appreciation of what we already have and everything around us. And the privilege that it is to be able to travel this place we call Earth.
What do you think the future of travel will look like? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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