How will we be traveling in the coming year? Aside from new rules regarding airport, airplane, and destination entry requirements, here are future travel trends that I foresee emerging. I’m looking at these temporary or lasting changes from a sunny-side up perspective because yes, there is absolutely a bright side with these developments. Here are the trends that I see emerging, and my personal picks for what’s “out,” and what’s “in” for travel:
1. Spacious resorts. Resorts will be at a lower capacity for a while, both due to fewer travelers and because of locality-specific occupancy caps. Because of social distancing measures, we’ll also see more spacing between tables at resort dining venues, and fewer lines waiting to check in. We can also expect niceties like pre-reserved sun loungers at the pool or beach, eliminating the daily competition for choice spots.
In: Private dining. I know of at least one luxury Riviera Maya condominium-style resort offering in-room professional chef meal preparation or Blue Apron style meal kits delivered to you, in addition to on-property restaurants.
Out: Old school buffets. Where there is buffet-style service, you will likely request what you want and a gloved server will plate it for you.
Romantic al fresco dining is in.
2. The staycation. For many, early forays back into travel will take the shape of a close-to-home staycation or mini road trip. For couples, a luxury wellness-focused resort within driving distance might be ideal, whereas families may opt for a spacious resort with plenty of outdoor activities. Think wide open spaces, luxury beachside resorts, and plenty of nature.
In: branded cleaning protocols (cue the electrostatic sprayers), smartphone apps instead of paper restaurant menus, personalized snack baskets, 'low touch' anticipatory service.
Out: In-room mini bars and coffee stations, decorative items like throw pillows, and magazines that stay in the room between guests. It’s all about making things clean, fresh, and sanitized. In the spa, facials may be off the menu for now.
You'll probably need to order your coffee in the mornings, as in-room coffee makers have largely disappeared to reduce touch points.
3. The dream trip. I wager that if you are reading this article, you already love travel, but can we agree that we all value travel even more now that we’ve had to forgo it? I’m seeing more desire for dream trips* to dream destinations (my Tahiti inquiries have been up, and I expect continued high interest in luxury river cruises). I also anticipate more families wanting to take heritage trips as we realize how important our human connections and family roots are. In short, when they travel again, my travelers are looking for trips that maybe they had put off for “someday,” or for more meaningful, perhaps even adventurous, journeys.
In: Premium travel, more flexible reservations, travel insurance, working with a credentialed travel advisor.
Out: Travel “deals” that aren't, ho-hum resorts, DIY planning.
Beyond the expected: special travel journeys allow you to connect more meaningfully with the world.
4. Small ship cruising. Last week, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA, of which I am also a member), announced a voluntary extension of the sailing suspension from U.S. ports through 15 September. This applies to ships with 250 or more passengers. There are several U.S.-based small ship cruise lines that sail both oceans and rivers that will be sailing this summer, however: all with fewer than 250 passengers. Being smaller and with more staff per square foot, there is also more opportunity for enhanced continuous cleaning. I believe that worldwide small ship river and ocean cruising will be one of the hottest travel trends for 2021 planning.
In: Smaller, more intimate ships that have fewer passengers, greater staff: passenger ratios, and are able to get into smaller, more unique ports. Small ship cruising is destination discovery at its finest.
Out: Crowds on ships. Even on mid-size and large ships, you will see innovations in how dining, entertainment, and port excursions will be handled to reduce large groups gathering together. Expect stickers on the floor showing you where to stand if in-person queuing is needed, and greater use of apps to make reservations while on board. Plenty more innovations are in store: during the downtime, the cruise lines are busy reimagining the cruise experience and how it is delivered.
A Danube river cruise that begins or ends in Budapest is a perfect introduction to river cruising.
In closing, my message to you is that it is not too early to begin planning your future travel. Don't hesitate to reach out to me, and check out my free guide to tap into your own travel inspiration - just click on the picture below.
*I call it "dream travel," but some people call it “bucket list travel.” Here’s my short article on why I don’t believe in using the term "bucket list."
Photo credits: Outdoor dining by Sara Dubler on Unsplash; coffee by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash; Taiwan by Yeo Khee on Unsplash; Hungary by Elijah G on Unsplash.