Travel Trends for 2021 and Beyond

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Travel interest is up, vacation inquiries are increasing, and it’s clear that people are feeling hopeful. As virus numbers decline, and vaccination percentages increase, we’ll see more and more people getting back out into the world. But travel will no doubt look different than it has before.

We’ll likely be wearing masks, taking tests, and ready to show proof of vaccinations for the next year or two. But what else will be different about the travel landscape? This question is top of mind right now for travelers, those of us in the travel industry, and anyone in the media who covers travel trends. We’ve done a quick survey of what the various “in-the-know” sources are predicting, and here are the trends that seem to be a common thread:

A Focus on Hygiene, Health & Wellness

The pandemic underlined the need for excellent cleanliness standard, and travel suppliers across the board stepped up their protocols in 2020 to ensure our safety. Refreshingly, it looks like health will continue to be a priority for these companies. Hotels are improving and expanding their contactless check-in. Airlines will likely continue their thorough cleaning schedules. Both are elevating staff training and using improved cleaning tools. How companies demonstrate their commitment to our health and safety will be a top priority when deciding who to travel with in the future.

This past year has also brought increased stress levels and a host of mental health challenges. We expect that 2021 travelers will use their vacations to focus on relaxation, rejuvenation and restoring a sense of well-being. From hosting themed wellness retreats, to providing more outdoor experiences, hotels and resorts are committed to finding ways to take care of guests’ mental and physical health.

Nature & Space

aerial Salish lodge and spa sitting atop the large waterfall in washington state

The classic road-trip vacation gained huge popularity in 2020 as a way to enjoy nature, and still have some control over your health bubble. The need for wide-open spaces remains high among those considering where to travel in the coming year. Remote locations, of course, make it easier to social distance, but beyond that, breathing in some fresh air and reconnecting with nature does wonders for your mental and physical health.

( Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa – read more about the Lodge and other luxury remote resorts here!)

a couple sitting on the back terrace of their overwater bungalow with private jacuzzi and direct access to the sea in the Maldives

Remote locations are only part of this trend. There is also a growing interest in single-residence accommodations. Everything from private villas, and stand-alone casitas to unique spaces like tree-houses or over-water bungalows. Single-residence spaces add an element of exclusivity and luxury to the travel experience, and also make it easier to maintain distance between groups. Many resorts and hotels have committed to offering more stand-alone lodging options, along with private excursions and experiences. Mixing wellness and privacy with much-needed fresh air, places outside of the big tourist hubs will be the top destinations of 2021.

(Photo Credit: via Unsplash)

Green & Sustainable Travel

The impact of over-tourism on delicate ecosystems has been an ongoing concern and, with the COVID lockdowns, a window of opportunity opened for local governments to take action towards better conservation. Moving forward, you’re likely to see destinations encouraging you to try new and different sights or experiences, rather the perennial favorites that attract big crowds. They’ll be making better use of their spaces and spreading out the visitor traffic. Iceland, for example, is opening a new “Sky Lagoon” to give visitors a second option to the oft-crowded Blue Lagoon. Destinations are also encouraging people to slow down, stay a bit longer, and explore and connect with the location in a deeper way. This is the perfect opportunity for travelers to explore unknown corners and hidden gems. Locals are taking this chance to think about how to raise the quality of tourism, and travelers are looking for companies and destinations that are eco-conscious and are making a demonstrably positive impact on the environment.

Local & Community Based Travel

Being forced to slow down and stay inside has certainly taught us to appreciate the little things in life. There is a new focus on community (at home and abroad), and travelers are increasingly looking for unique, authentic, local experiences.

local Thai folk with honeymoon couple

We expect continued interest in things like taking a cooking class, picking up a local craft, or learning more about the region from a local perspective. Personalized experiences that engage with the community, and that feed profits back into the local economy, will take priority.

(Photo Credit: Marissa via Annie’s Escapes – you can read all about Marissa & Derek’s Thailand honeymoon escape here!)

Companies like Hyatt and Hilton have created programs to support their local communities, and others are likely to follow. There is a real sense of caring and support from future travelers. And they are holding companies equally accountable for their impact on and connection to the surrounding local community.

Our overall sense is that the way we travel in the future may see us traveling more slowly, with more purpose and consciousness. Focusing on our own physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing as well as that of the places and communities we visit. If you are excited to talk about these trends or to start planning a new adventure let us know! We can’t wait to see what the future brings!

Unexpected. Unprecedented. Unbelievable.

2020 has definitely been the year of the “un” everything. We’ve completely un-done our normal routines, our workplaces, our plans, our celebrations, and our vacations.

Like so many of you, I find myself more than halfway through the year without having taken any vacation time, or having gone anywhere much further than my own backyard.

Ann with a class of wine on a white deck chair on the lawn in Block Island Rhode Island

I quite literally have spent ONE night away from home in a hotel…. and that was on Block Island, a quick ferry ride from where I live.

[photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

I thought I had come up with a COVID-safe and socially-distant travel option for next month.  My daughter and I planned a one-week road trip through Utah, with stops at Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion national parks. 

Lots of time outdoors, hiking and enjoying the scenery, and no worries about international travel restrictions and closed borders.

[photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

But now, because of Rhode Island’s rules about self-quarantine when you return from “hot spots” like the south and west, even that trip has been canceled like so many others.

Where that leaves me is scrambling to come up with a New England road trip that complies with all local travel restrictions but still gives us something to look forward to before my daughter starts law school in September. 

Seeing the Vermont Bridges [photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

Maine is proving problematic because we can’t be guaranteed to get a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the trip, but New Hampshire looks good. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

And what that means for YOU is that even though I typically don’t handle domestic travel, this is a very “un”usual year 😊  

sunset on the beach with the hotel blacony and flag pole

I am now very well-versed in the regulations that currently apply to domestic travel.

[photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

I can help you figure out which states will allow you to visit (and what your home state will require of you when you return) Plus, I’ve got some great new suppliers that offer very cool experiences and accommodations throughout the United States. 

  • What would you say to a dude ranch in Colorado? 
  • “Glamping” in the Grand Canyon? 
two luxury tents silouhetted against a night sky full of stars in Moab Utah
Glamping with Undercanvas [photo credit: Adam Skalecki via Unsplash]
  • A lakefront cabin in Maine? 
  • A luxury villa in Napa?
swimming pool with guest house and overlooking a valley in California
Stay in a Luxury Californian Villa [Photo Credit: Jesse Gardner via Unsplash]
  • Traveling cross-country in a private sleeper car on a train?
  • Cruising the Mississippi on a paddlewheel steamboat?
a steamboat sailing down the mississippi at sunset
Sailing down the Mississippi [Photo Credit: Stephen Walker via Unsplash]

If you’ve got vacation time to burn, or just need to have an “escape” to look forward to, I would welcome the chance to get creative and help you come up with an exciting domestic destination for this year. Give me a call or shoot me an email.

We can get back to exploring the wider world next year!

Baby Steps

Like most of you, I’m tired of sitting at home waiting for the world to open back up again. I’m well aware that it’s going to be a very long time before things feel “normal” again, but I need to start taking some baby steps back towards my pre-COVID-19 life. And for me, that includes travel.

I haven’t been on a plane since November, which is definitely setting records. Until a few days ago, I had not spent a night away from home since February. And I hadn’t eaten in a restaurant since the first week in March.  Now that we are safely entering “Phase 3” of Rhode Island’s post-pandemic re-opening plan, I figured it was time to test the waters with a quick overnight getaway.

a view of rock island RI from the ferry

Block Island, RI seemed like the natural choice, with its fresh air, open spaces, and easy commute from my home in Wakefield (a one-hour scenic ferry ride). My husband and I booked a night at the Spring House Hotel, packed our masks, hand sanitizer and sunscreen, and took the plunge.

After so many months at home, heading out on a mini-vacation felt decadent, a little scary, and LONG overdue. And you know what? It was great!

Ann with a class of wine on a white deck chair on the lawn in Block Island Rhode Island

We felt very safe because everywhere we went the proper protocols were being followed. People wore masks and observed social distancing.

king corner hotel room in Block Island Rhode Island set in blue tones with two windows

The hotel room was spotlessly clean, and crowds were light.

two cushioned lounge chairs on a deck overlooking the bay in Rock Island Rhode Island

We read books on our sunny deck, enjoyed cocktails and live music on the hotel lawn, dined al fresco on the back patio of their restaurant, and strolled through the shops and galleries in town.

In total, we spent less than 24 hours on the island, but it was just enough for a complete re-set.  I came home feeling happier, more relaxed, more hopeful about the future, and only a little bit sunburned 😊

enjoy an ice cream on Block Island, Rhode Island

All in all, I would consider it a very successful experiment. What about you?  Are you ready to venture out?  If so, I’ve been gathering first-hand intel from colleagues (and their clients) who have already ventured further afield. Let me know if you want to hear about logistics/precautions for visiting Mexico, Jamaica, or any of the other destinations that have started to open up their doors to Americans.

And if you’d prefer to start with baby steps like I did, that’s cool too. I know some great spots close to home 😊

a line of white deck chairs on the lawn overlooking the ocean in Rhode Island

Six Luxury Resorts Worthy of a Post-Pandemic Splurge

When you’ve gone without something for a while, it becomes even more special and precious. If I give up dessert for Lent, that first allowable “splurge” on Easter Sunday takes on great significance. I’m not going to just have a cookie or a dish of frozen yogurt – I want gelato, crème brulee, or a decadent slice of cheesecake!

6 luxury resorts worthy of a post-pandemic splurge pin
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We’ve been stuck at home and deprived of the ability to travel for several months now, and I am dreaming of how to break that particular “fast”. For my first post-COVID trip, I’m not going to be staying at a Motel 6 or any old Hampton Inn. I want someplace special, and memorable, with at least a touch of luxury. But I also want to be safe and responsible, so I’m looking for fresh air, lots of outdoor space, and no crowds.

If you want some inspiration for outdoorsy US resorts that are worthy of a post-pandemic splurge, here are a handful on my list from three distinct parts of the country:

The Southeast – For Southern Charm

Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort southern mansion front lawn with large southern trees, south carolina
[ Photo Credit: Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, South Carolina]

Sanctuary at Kiawah Island– If the ocean is calling you right now, consider The Sanctuary at Kiawah. This grand sea-side hotel is both elegant and welcoming.

main lobby of the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort with a southern decor

You’ll feel like you’re arriving at a friend’s Southern mansion.

[Photo Credit: Sanctuary at Kiawah Island]

There are unobstructed ocean views (even from the ground floor) and a balcony or terrace in every guestroom, so you can enjoy the tranquility and fresh sea air. Just 21 miles from downtown Charleston, and convenient to all the shopping/dining/sightseeing that the “Holy City” provides, this is the pampering escape you need after these past few months. The overall decor is calm and serene, and the rooms have a breezy traditional feel with large tubs, plantation shutters, and neutral color palettes.

areal view of the Sancutary at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina
[Photo Credit: Sanctuary at Kiawah Island]

With more than a dozen eateries, separate adult and family pools, a beach, and a golf course, this relaxing resort lives up to its Sanctuary name. But it’s the little touches like complimentary shoe shines, that really set this Southern resort apart. As an example of their commitment to guest wellness, they are partnering with a team of doctors from MUSC to develop health and safety plans and protocols that go above and beyond the CDC COVID-19 recommendations. Staying here is sure to leave you feeling relaxed and well cared for.

Montage Palmetto Bluff– Spend a relaxing afternoon on the veranda with a cool glass of sweet tea at this river-side resort. Located in the South Carolinian low-country, the resort features vaulted ceilings, wide porches, and classic Southern charm. They offer a huge variety of accommodations, from guestrooms to spacious stand-alone cottages. Add in their eight different dining locations, and they have what you need for every type of trip.

sunset on the river in south carolina

This is a quiet “hide-away” right on the river where you can enjoy the slow pace of southern life.

[Photo Credit: Everett Petronio]

While this sprawling 20,000-acre resort prides itself on an unhurried atmosphere, there’s still plenty to do. Included in the resort’s grounds are a nature reserve, two villages, a golf course, and 32 miles of riverfront. They provide guided activities and tours, or you can explore on your own.

river edge with high grasses and small white heron at montage palmetto resort south carolina

Take tennis and fly-fishing lessons, spend an afternoon at the shooting club, learn about their conservancy program, or go on a dolphin cruise to spot local wildlife. You can find yourself hiking, biking, paddle-boarding, or kayaking.

[Photo Credit: Everett Petronio]

For something a little quieter, chill out by the pool, hop onboard one of their yachts for morning mimosas on the water, or make your own s’mores around the fire pit at night. There’s plenty to do at this huge resort, making it a great all-around getaway.

The Pacific Northwest – For Tranquil Contemplation

blades of tall grass near water columbia gorge oregon
[Photo Credit: Lauren Neiheisel]

Salish Lodge and Spa – A quintessential Pacific Northwest experience, the Salish Lodge and Spa will make you feel like you’re on your own personal mountain retreat. Just 30 minutes east of Seattle, it overlooks the impressive 268 ft Snoqualmie Falls and river gorge, and is surrounded by a lush northwest forest. This will truly feel like an escape from the everyday.

couple's massage at the Salish Lodge & Spa in Washington

With gas fireplaces and spa-like showers in every room the real focus here is serenity.

[Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa]

Perfect for a relaxing yet outdoorsy getaway, the Lodge features northwest-inspired spa treatments, easy hiking trails, trout fishing and two restaurants with local home-grown food.

dining room overlooking the pacific northwest river gorge and snoqualmie waterfalls at the Salish Lodge & Spa in Washington
[Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa]

Founded in 1916 and owned by the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, it is truly unique. The Lodge was the setting of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks mystery series, and it has an onsite apiary which they use to make a huge variety of fresh honey products — ales, sweets, and main dishes.

living room area of the patio suite at the Salish Lodge & Spa in Washington State

Be sure to get a River View room so you can relax on your balcony to the sound of the rushing water.

[Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa]

Stephanie Inn – For a romantic adventure on the Pacific Ocean, look no further than the Stephanie Inn. This adults-only ocean-front hotel offers the best in boutique luxury. Combining comfort and elegance with oceanfront and mountain views, this intimate retreat has a focus on all things culinary.

couple relaxing on their beachfront terrace at the Stephanie Inn, Oregon

Being only 28 steps to the beach, providing beach cruiser bicycles, and luxurious Jacuzzi “pure air” baths in every room is just the beginning.

[Photo Credit: The Stephanie Inn]

The Inn also offers several specialized excursions and experiences (“Stephanie Inn Sojourns”) with their executive chef.

You can take cooking classes, travel the Craft Ale Trail, go salmon and crab fishing in the Pacific, learn to blend your own wine and head to the local farmer’s market. All under the guidance of executive chef Aaron Bedard.

[Photo Credit: The Stephanie Inn]

The beachfront setting, pampering service, and the “foodie” experiences certainly set Stephanie Inn apart from the competition.

[Photo Credit: The Stephanie Inn]

This is a resort that really understands their clientele. Guests can enjoy a bonfire or picnic lunch on the beach, onsite massages, and free transportation into Cannon Beach (in a cool Tesla sedan) to explore local galleries, secret gardens and boutique shopping.

The Rocky Mountains- For Something Rugged

panoramic shot of Colorado meadow and moutains at C Lazy U Ranch
[ Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

C Lazy U RanchIf you’re itching to be active, experience a real dude ranch, or you’re traveling with children then the C Lazy U Ranch is the place. This luxury dude ranch in the heart of the Rocky Mountains is the Wild West family adventure you’ll be talking about for years to come.

three people horseback riding on a trail through a beautiful forest and next to a lack at the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado
[Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

With a herd of over 200 horses, they’ll take you on daily trail rides among the wildflowers, lessons in the horse riding arenas, and cattle pushing clinics in the meadows. They also offer a ropes course, archery, zipline, hiking, tennis, and two miles of private riverfront for fly fishing.

two boys high five halfway up a rock climbing wall at the ropes course on the C Lazy U Ranch, Colorado

Balancing family time and scheduled adventure time, this 101 year-old ranch has an excellent kids & teens program.

[Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

Plus there’s still plenty of time to relax on the ranch.

Two large copper tubs await in the spa tent at the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado

Enjoy their spa with unique copper soaking tubs and glass-floor tents, letting you watch the river drift by while enjoying your massage.

[Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

Chill by the pool, pond, or river and spend your evenings sharing stories by the open fire. This Ranch has it all and more.

Dunton Hot SpringsNestled in the San Juan Mountains, in the southwest corner of Colorado, sits a restored mining ghost town. Taking rustic luxury to a whole new level, this hot-springs centered resort perfectly combines nature, whimsy, and elegance. Thirteen hand-hewn log cabins circle the Saloon and Dance Hall, just steps from the bathhouse. Don’t let the rustic exterior fool you — each of these cabins features heated floors, large baths, glass showers, wifi, and all the other modern luxuries you could desire. One cabin even features its own hot springs tap!

San Juan Colorado Rockies snow-caped in the distance with a wooden fence and overgrown meadow in front

This perfectly-restored ghost town gives you views of mountains and meadows.

[Photo Credit: James Obernesser via Unsplash]

Enjoy hiking, biking, and fly fishing on your own. Or take along a guide for rock climbing, river rafting, horseback riding, and climbing to the top of the San Juan peaks. After all these outdoor activities, you’ll love coming back to restore and refresh in the hot springs before enjoying farm-fresh food and world-class wines in the saloon.

men's legs floating in a natural hot-spring surrounded by rocks and  a fir forest

The resort offers five ways to enjoy its ancient rejuvenating hot springs, which range from 85F to 106F.

[Photo Credit: Alexander Mcferon via Unsplash]

Staying at the Dunton Hot Springs is not only a unique experience but a perfect way to commune with nature and focus on your wellness.

Whether you’re feeling like what you need most is calming tranquility or an action-packed adventure, your first post-COVID trip should be someplace special, memorable, and a little bit luxurious. With lots of fresh crisp air and remote settings, we hope these six resorts have inspired you to dream big. Let us know when and where you’d like to enjoy your first post-pandemic ‘escape’!

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)