Travel Advisory – Where Do We Go From Here?
In 2020, for the first time in I don’t know how many years, my husband, Rob, and I didn’t venture outside of New England. In fact, New Hampshire was the only state we visited, unless you count our 30-minute drive on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River last June as a shortcut to a trail we wanted to hike in New Hampshire’s western White Mountains. Travel has been a regular part of my life for so many years, both personally and professionally, that it feels strange to have stayed close to home for so long. But being unable to go farther than the next state has been beneficial in a few ways. We’ve had the opportunity to experience many remarkable places we probably never would have visited if we’d been able to hop on a plane instead.
Of course, I’m still looking forward to traveling again. Wondering when it might be possible and safe to do so, I’ve done some research on projected travel trends for 2021.
On the Road
Even though COVID-19 vaccines are slowly being made available to the general public, it’s going to be awhile before enough people are vaccinated to make traveling by air or train truly safe again. And as of this writing, there’s still no indication that travel to Western Europe, Canada, or many Asian countries is going to be allowed anytime soon. As you might imagine, all of this has led to a huge increase in domestic travel by car.
Driving to a destination provides a sense of freedom after being cooped up for months in isolation. Traveling in a car or RV with your own family is also much safer than spending hours in airports among strangers.
According to RVshare, rentals of the company’s campervans and RVs increased by 166% from autumn 2019 to autumn 2020. A sizable segment of this market includes luxury “glampervans,” fancy RVs equipped with amenities such as espresso machines, Wi-Fi, satellite television reception, and memory-foam mattresses.
Your Own Private Hideaway
For many of the same reasons that RV travel has become trendy, private vacation rentals have increased in many markets across the U.S. over the past year. In an August 2020 study, the short-term rental data site StayFi noted that in some states 2020 vacation rentals increased by as much as 99% when compared to the same time period in 2019.
Going forward, vacation rentals are expected to continue their upward trend. A recent report on the consumer statistics site Statista notes that short-term rental revenues are expected to increase by 10.6% annually through 2025. The vacation rental market is so hot, in fact, that large hotel brands such as Marriott and Wyndham have gotten in on the action with their own private rental options.
Whether you’re looking for a one-bedroom condo for a weekend of skiing or a sprawling house on the beach where your extended family can enjoy each other’s company for a couple of weeks, there are so many companies listing vacation rentals these days that you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. The cost of a vacation rental is often less expensive per night than staying in a hotel. Many travelers also like having the ability to buy groceries and prepare their own meals. It’s easier for people with small children, saves money, and makes being exposed to COVID-19 at a restaurant or bar much less likely.
While international travel to many destinations is not possible right now there are still several countries that are welcoming foreign visitors. Many of these places are in the Caribbean and in Central and South America. As of this writing, popular destinations such as Barbados, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Aruba, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Chile, the British Virgin Islands and Belize are allowing in tourists. Some of these locations require travelers to show that they have had a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours, while additional rules apply to others.
Because travel restrictions can change rapidly, if you’re thinking of taking a vacation to one of these destinations it’s probably a good idea to work with a travel agent who can book your trip with an airline that offers no-fee itinerary changes and can help you purchase a good travel insurance plan.
Book at the Last Minute
In the not-too-distant past, booking travel at the last minute could be pretty risky. You could never be sure whether you were going to be able to travel on the dates you wanted, or that you’d be able to get a room in your first-choice hotel. These days, though, with business travel being virtually nonexistent and things like festivals and professional sporting events no longer on the calendar, booking shortly before you plan to leave has become almost commonplace. According to a November 2020 report on Forbes.com, the average number of days travelers book ahead of time is now just 50 days, down 37.5% from before the pandemic. The late booking trend is so strong, in fact, that it has caused many hotel companies to change their cancellation policies in order to provide guests with more flexibility.
So, if you have some time off and decide you need a change of scenery, why not just go, even if it’s just a short trip to the next state over.