As 2020 has come finally to a close, people are thinking ahead about their travel plans for 2021. Although we may not know what the future will hold, our thirst to experience the world remains unchanged.

While 2020 was filled with remote getaways and road trips, Americans are dreaming of island escapes and big city trips for the 2021 year, according to a recent Travel Trends Report.

As cooped up travelers look to the future, travel advisers have been planning and booking clients’ 2021-2022 vacations now, with a focus on bucket-list trips. Advisers are seeing more people interested in prioritizing their trips to places clients have always dreamed of visiting, including travelers seeking out tours that are more purpose-led and to destinations that are off the beaten path.

As one client said, “There is this feeling that life is short and you never know what will happen, so rather than save the best for last, plan the top destinations first.”

Since so many trips were cancelled or rescheduled to the following year, the inventory is tight for 2021, so many clients have even begun thinking about 2022 in the hopes things will be more normal and certain by then. We are already seeing some trips are sold out on many of its small-group trips for 2021 and 2022.

We definitely recommend securing space early. Pent-up demand for future travel is very real, and iconic, bucket-list adventures are in high demand in the post-COVID-19 travel world!

Of the most popular destinations people searched for, more than two-thirds are islands or beach destinations with Cancun and a grouping of Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and Tulum coming in as the top two, according to the report shared with Travel + Leisure. Americans also set their sights on more far-flung destinations as well, such as Europe, Scotland, Italy, Africa and Greece!

Did you know a lot of the Caribbean has been open since June? We’ve had clients that have been traveling to the Caribbean, Mexico, the Gulf Coast, Gatlinburg, Disney, Las Vegas and are getting ready for the ski season.

This year, travelers have responded to the uncertainty and restrictions by finding ways to safely explore closer to home, and the result is a bigger emphasis on flexibility and a list of trending destinations that are inspiring and attainable for the year ahead. With that being said, a lot of clients have booked cruises on the American Queen Steamboat for next year.

When it comes to booking this year’s vacations, we know that health and safety protocols as well as flexibility will be key. We know that people are excited about the future of 2021. With vaccines being shipped across the globe, we have hope that people will be able to travel in 2021.

According to a recent survey and what we are seeing those who have upcoming air-travel plans, 52% plan to stay in hotels at their destination, versus just 22% who are planning on booking vacation rentals.

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed pointed to enhanced cleanliness, health and safety procedures as the factor that would compel them to stay at a hotel.

Although lodging is not currently the top concern for many when it comes to their travel journey, consumers are giving additional thought to where they stay. And, although vacation rentals have gained in popularity in recent years, we’re seeing consumers put their trust in hotels because they feel more confident in their cleanliness and hygiene standards.

As a result of the 2020 Pandemic, 2021 will see travel advisers become the fountains of all knowledge for topics including travel inspiration, the best deals, the latest health and safety standards and the latest news on health policies all over the world, along with help rebooking after a disruption.

The best plan: Experts say your travel survival guide for 2021 should include a professional travel adviser. An agent can help you navigate the uncertainty of travel during the year. Whether you’re traveling out of state or out of the country, a pro can make sure all of your paperwork is in order. You may need to have negative test results in hand to enter certain states or countries, other destinations may have mandatory self-quarantine periods upon arrival.

People are excited about the future of 2021. With vaccines being shipped across the globe, we have hope that people will be able to travel in 2021.

Barbara May is owner of Travel Leaders. Travel Leaders has been in the travel industry for over 34 years and the agency is specialized in all types of travel! For the Memphis office, call 901-377-6600. Our Memphis office is located at 2765 Wolf Creek Pkwy., Ste. 104, Memphis, TN 38133, next door to David’s Bridal. Or if you are in the Collierville area, the number is 901-853-6200.

Travel Leaders is now open by appointment only.

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