Travel Trends for 2021

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As the Dalai Lama said, “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” I wholeheartedly agree, however, COVID continues to mess up my travel plans. While the recent vaccine release provides some hope, it’s likely to take a several months for the world to open up again. But all is not lost for those of us suffering from acute wanderlust. New travel trends emerged in 2020 that continue to entice anxious travelers as we move into 2021. Let’s take a look.

Staying Close to Home

Currently, experts tell us to stay at home—and we should listen. But as things begin to ease, staying close to home is an excellent way to dip your toes into travel again. You may be surprised at the unique experiences you discover in your own backyard.

Travelers who typically venture thousands of miles from home are booking stays at nearby resorts and luxury properties for a change of scenery. After sheltering at home for months, even a brief escape provides restoration. As a New York City resident, I’ve spent time exploring the Hudson River Valley. Stretching 150 miles north of the city to Albany, this bucolic region offers elegant country estates, farm-to-table dining, art galleries, fascinating historic sites and miles and miles of hiking trails. In fact, I lost count at the number of miles we hiked at about 150!

Nature Tourism

Speaking of hiking, convening with nature has become one of the hottest travel trends and for good reason. The mental and physical benefits are well-documented. Limited to domestic travel, Americans are rediscovering the beauty of our national parks. With sixty-two from which to choose, that’s plenty of nature to go around. Whether it’s the mist-shrouded Great Smoky Mountains, the brightly colored hoodoos of Bryce Canyon or the towering peaks of Mount Rainier, spending a few days exploring any of the national parks is not only healthy but therapeutic

Alternatively, consider a less-populated state park or our national monuments which often draw fewer visitors. At the Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona, 500 square miles of stunning desert landscape displays an incredible variety of cacti. For more of the nature escapes I’ve discovered during COVID restrictions, check out my nature escape post here.

Road Trips

As American as apple pie and baseball, road trips have risen to the top of the travel trends. Whether you choose a route close to home or decide to tackle Route 66, great scenery comes as a guarantee. So, start loading up the car and hit the road.

If you want to stay close to home, head out on the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. Stretching 124-miles, it connects Miami to infamous Key West. Straddling a vast expanse of turquoise sea, this iconic roadway leads to historic shipwrecks, quirky eateries and some of the best fishing holes in the country. Or check out some of the other Florida road trips in my previous column here.

On the opposite side of the US, California’s Pacific Coast Highway tops the list for scenic drives. Spanning almost the entire length of California’s coastline, the iconic PCH meanders along precipitous cliffs, over dramatic bridges and up and down snaky inclines hugging the Pacific as waves crash the rocks in the distance. Along the way, fertile farmland gives way to charming seaside villages much like a road trip sampler. Don’t miss Monterey’s 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach and Carmel and the iconic Bixby Bridge in Big Sur. Make the most of your adventure by renting a zippy convertible.

Make the Most of Whatever You Choose to Do

As someone who typically takes several international trips a year, I’ll admit these limitations haven’t been easy to swallow. Whether you’re an extensive traveler or just like the idea of being able to go wherever you want, it’s tough. But, despite the limitations currently in effect, there’s plenty to discover no matter where we wander. So, embrace your inner adventurer and start exploring. Remember, you can go somewhere you’ve never been before even if it’s not far from home.