Updated: Jul 19
Written by guest contributor, Sarah Dandashy
Ready, set, travel!
With the vaccine roll-out underway in the United States (about 40% of the country is now fully vaccinated), people are starting to look beyond their couches and are busy planning their next getaway. Americans are making the most of where they can travel, leading to some exciting travel trends.
Here are some of the biggest U.S. travel trends you’ll want to watch if you're in the hospitality industry.
Wondering where U.S. travelers are going in 2021? Here are the top trends I'm predicting will disrupt the travel industry as the world slowly opens up to tourism.
Travel Trend #1: 2021 is The Year of Road Trip Travel
Without a doubt, the biggest 2021 travel trend is road trips. With the risk of boarding a plane and contracting Miss Rona higher, travelers have taken to the roads in droves. Whether it's couples, families, or solo travelers renting out R.V.s to explore the U.S. or weekend getaways, it's one of the most popular ways to scratch the travel bug itch.
For the most part, I've seen people generally travelling within a 300-mile radius of where they live. It's also not just me who has seen a growing trend around road trips. Pinterest, for example, has reported a 40% increase in searches around "R.V. accessories." What does this mean? People are on the move this spring and summer! The great thing is, no matter where you live, there is always a vacation destination a few hours away.
Travel Trend #2: Outdoor Destinations Are Trending
If there is one thing lockdown made us all appreciate a little bit more, it's the great outdoors. Compared to 2019, there has been a massive spike in outdoor travel. If we take a look at Pinterest's Trend feature, we can see:
A 150% increase in searches related to national parks.
A 30% increase in searches related to hiking.
A 65% increase in searches related to surfing.
People are sick of their four walls and want to explore safely. Expect outdoor destinations to continue to be a massive 2021 travel trend.
According to Pinterest, some of the trending national park destinations for 2021 are:
Yellowstone National Park
Zion National Park
Utah National Park
Glacier National Park
Those in the hospitality industry can take advantage of this travel trend by crafting itineraries around the national parks and suggesting adventurous and exciting activities. Think surfing the North Shore of Oahu, hiking to Havasu Falls in Arizona, and the Sahale Glacier Camp in the North Cascades.
Travel Trend #3: Home Rentals for The Ultimate Socially Distant Getaway
With travelers wanting to respect social distance guidelines, people are opting to rent entire homes for their getaways. Why? The space. You can get resort-like amenities (private pools, saunas, even gyms) without having to stress about bumping into other guests.
How do you find these fabulous rental homes? Sites like Homes and Villas by Marriott make it easy to search a curated collection of home rentals that are only a few hours away. Marriot also has a neat "Near Me" feature to help you find the option closest to your home. And if you're a Marriott Bonvoy member, you can earn and redeem points. You may have more buying power than you think!
Some of the most popular U.S. destinations for home rentals include:
Jacksonville, Florida: Homes start at $287 per night
San Diego, California: Homes start at $253 per night
Charlotte, North Carolina: Homes start at $300 per night
Charleston, South Carolina: Homes start at $141 per night
San Antonio, Texas: Home start at $500 per night
Travel Trend #4: Multigenerational Travel
Since lockdown, families have been separated from each other – much longer than predicted. With most 65+ year-olds now fully vaccinated, it's predicted multi-generational travel will boom as families reunite for the first time in over a year.
What does that mean? People are looking to spend time together and knock off some bucket list items, especially after a year of doing nothing. Expect to see an uptick in multi-room family vacations, destination weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and large group getaways for spring and summer.
With more people on the itinerary, we'll probably see multi-generational travelers opting for destinations closer to home like the Caribbean or Mexico. When it comes to accommodation, it's more economical for families to rent villas and invest in a longer stay rather than opting for hotels.
Travel Trend #5: Scenic Train Travel Around the U.S.
Train travel is making a comeback, and I am here for it! A few years ago, cheap flights pushed trains to the side. But with people avoiding planes and searching for unique adventures, it's led to an uptick in this travel trend for 2021.
This year, ditch the beach and swap it for a spectacular train ride through Yellowstone National Park. You'll get to experience the mountains from a unique vantage point and stay in various accommodation options that meet your budget. Amtrak Vacations is my favorite tour operator offering these scenic train trips around the U.S. You can explore various national parks, states, and even Canada with their sightseeing train rides.
Travel Trend #6: Workcations
If there is one positive from the pandemic, it showed the world remote work is possible. Companies were forced to try a business model that freelancers, start-ups, and digital nomads have been raving about for years.
While some people will be returning to brick-and-mortar offices, it doesn't mean travel is off the table. One of the biggest travel trends in 2021 is workcations. Hotels and resorts worldwide are offering exclusive packages to professionals who want the best of both worlds: play and work.
You'll have access to lightning-fast internet to get your work done in the day (whether it's in your suite or by the pool) and access to countless activities once you've clocked out for the day. The best part? You don't need to put in leave to scratch your travel itch.
Travel Trend #7: Last-Minute Trips
With vaccinations on the rise in the U.S., people are ready to get out of the house and explore! In 2020, we lost bookings on flights and trips we had been planning for years. Dates were pushed back, and some destinations still have strict entry requirements.
The restriction on movement has sparked a trend of last-minute trips. Travelers are hopping on planes and jumping into cars at the drop of a hat in case lockdown regulations change. Gone are the days of planning a trip a full year in advance. People feel anxious it might not happen and are seizing the day while borders and states are open.
For more, head to www.askaconcierge.tv. Or follow Sarah online at @askaconcierge.
Sarah Dandashy is a verified travel expert and former award-winning Les Clefs d'Or concierge with over 18 years of luxury hotel experience. Going beyond the traditional concierge desk, Sarah brought her travel advice to the digital space establishing a 200+k social media following and continues to work with some of the leading brands in the travel industry. People seek her out for her travel tips, advice, and knowledge of trends from the “frontlines of travel.” Sarah has been featured in numerous publications from the New York Times, Nerdwallet, Business Insider, USNews, Reader's Digest, and Thrillist. She can be seen sharing travel advice and trends on TV, on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and Cheddar News.