Vaccine Boost? Predicting 2021 travel trends

Written by Chuck Nardozza, Managing Director of Travel Sales at AAA Travel Northeast

There is a desire to travel laying dormant just below the surface of this pandemic. People continue to search for vacations through AAA Travel, with popular destinations ranging from Aruba to Disney, and various cities and states in between. Over the past few days, much excitement has been shared over the positive news that a pair of COVID-19 vaccines are showing strong potential as solutions to our global crisis. While health organizations applaud the effort and economies see a light at the end of the tunnel, the travel industry sits perched and ready to welcome travelers with open, and healthy, arms.

Of course, it is only right that countries vaccinate the vulnerable, the health care workers, and essential employees before taking the medication to the general population but knowing that help and health are on the horizon is comforting. The fact also remains that this is not a golden ticket back to a jet setter lifestyle. Industry leaders anticipate there will be a need for an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (ICVP) — which travelers must carry to enter certain countries that mandate a yellow fever vaccination or to exit those with high polio risk — and this certificate could be the next addition to your travel kit.

These same industry experts are anticipating a shift to vacation lengths in 2021. Instead of taking a weeklong vacation, followed by another break later in the year, industry signs indicate travelers are exploring longer travel bookings. The speculation to this shift is consumer desire to step away, but to minimize movements. Spending two deeply immersive weeks in a location seems to be a growing commonplace for 2021.

The Travel Advisors COVID-19 Sentiment Barometer found a strong interest in domestic destinations, with 42% of inquiries received being U.S. destinations, compared to only about 16% of all inquiries before COVID. But international travel remains a focus, as popular site recently reported a 368% jump in searches for international destinations for travel in January. This once again mirrors what we are seeing through our AAA Travel website.

2021 may be the year of “bucket list” experiences for those “once in a lifetime” trips. Missing a year of travel has many people anxious to adventure, and for some travelers who now have future travel credits or refunded cancelations, the deals on the market are quite enticing. If there was one good thing to come out of the pandemic, it is the travel industry’s adoption of flexibility. Many 2021 deals are flexible on terms and conditions, and it looks like that will continue well into the first half of the year.  With major suppliers advising there will be less capacity on ships, at resorts, or on tour, we advise you to take advantage of the flexible terms and book with confidence.  If you want to get your first choice of dates, destinations, ships, or itineraries – book now and travel later.

2021 may also be the year of the Travel Advisor. When you book through a travel agent, you have someone looking out for your behalf.  Together you can navigate through new travel requirements, and discover itineraries and destinations that offer safe yet enjoyable experiences. As you prepare your return to travel, AAA Travel advisors are here to help. Let your advisor find a vacation that is both exhilarating and safe. To speak with an advisor, call 1-800-222-7448.