Look at This Year's Biggest Travel Trends
Let's face it - the global coronavirus pandemic has definitely altered our immediate outlook for travel in 2020. Instead of winetasting in Tuscany, beach-hopping in Mexico, and taking a family cruise to Alaska right now, we’re at home, gearing up for a socially distanced late-summer or autumn road trip and making big plans for what we hope will be a much more well-traveled 2021. Virtuoso, my travel consortium, took another look at the travel trends we were excited about in the beginning of 2020, and decided that we needed a then and now list of travel trends.
Then: The weekend getaway Now: The weeks-long getaway The “microcation” – a trip that’s less than five nights – had a moment last year, especially among millennials, who preferred getting away for several smaller trips rather than one lengthy one. Now, with remote work the norm, we have seen an uptick in clients seeking private villa rentals for longer getaways, in destinations where they can safely social distance with their families and continue working. Taking it even a step further, Barbados recently announced its Welcome Stamp, a new visa that lets foreign citizens live and work remotely on the Caribbean island for up to one year.
Then: Jet-setting Now: Road-tripping The beginning of 2020 felt like prime time for the long-haul: Several airlines were jockeying for the title of world’s longest flight (the current one belongs to Singapore Airlines and its 18.5-hour Singapore-to-Newark leg.) Airport lounges were in the spotlight too, having become way more than just spaces for good Wi-Fi and pre-flight snacks. (We’re talking partnerships with Michelin-starred restaurants and Zenlike yoga studios.) Until more travelers feel comfortable flying, we’ve seen this summer reignite the love for the road trip: Eighty-seven percent of Virtuoso’s Instagram followers want to take one this summer and fall.
Then: DIY might be fun… Now: Never DIYing again The benefits of working with a travel advisor has been lauded for years, but there’s nothing like a global pandemic to really put that in perspective! Over the past several months, I have helped clients get home as countries began closing their borders, worked with travel companies to help smoothly cancel and reschedule vacations, and have dispensed sage, “What would you do?”-style advice, helping travelers make the right decisions for them. As you plan your future adventures, that peace of mind will be priceless.
Then: Multigenerational travel Now: Multi-family travel Not to be confused with a travel bubble – an agreed area between countries that its residents are allowed to travel between – a travel pod is a group of two or more households whose members have been following coronavirus quarantine and social-distancing guidelines who make plans to vacation together. In a recent flash poll on Virtuoso's Instagram page, 79 percent of respondents said they’d take part in a travel pod. This year is giving new meaning to group travel.
Then: Global Entry Now: Immunity passports While nothing is officially in the works, advisors are already speculating on whether or not countries will request immunity passports from foreign citizens in the future … especially once an effective Covid-19 vaccine has been approved and is in use. Many destinations that are currently allowing visitors – including Tahiti, Saint Bart’s, and Saint Lucia – are already requiring proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
Then: Turndown service Now: Turning down service Virtuoso hotels and resorts around the world are welcoming travelers back, and they’re doing so with an array of comprehensive new health and safety protocols in place. Turndown service is on pause at many properties, and upon check-in, some hotels are asking guests if they’d like to forgo housekeeping services all together.
Then: Combatting overtourism Now: Reviving undertourism This is a wonderful thought from Luca Perfetto, the co-founder and CEO of Florencetown, a Virtuoso on-site tour connection in Italy, who said in a chat with Virtuoso: “Nature is taking back the world, but we must be careful because once we start moving again – that could end. We have to be aware that a new equilibrium is needed. We must begin to respect nature, our cities, our friends, our families, and ourselves much more. We should treat this world with white gloves, and it will treat us right too.”
Then: Country-coupling Now: Single all the way U.S. travelers can’t visit many global destinations at the moment, so those ambitious, globe-spanning, and country-hopping adventures may not be practical right now – as we collectively work to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it’s for good reason. As we begin to explore again, Virtuoso predicts that travel will be largely domestic and focused on one single destination to start, from road trips in the U.S. to small-ship circumnavigations of a single country. (SeaDream Yacht Club is currently welcoming passengers on itineraries along the Norwegian coast, for example, and AmaWaterways is relaunching its river ships in Germany for European residents.)