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New Travel Trends Emerge For 2021

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COVID-19 has had a profound impact on travel in 2020. As we look to 2021, these impacts will continue to be felt in a number of ways. Firstly, continued remote working will upend traditional vacation seasons and blur the lines between working and traveling. Secondly, safety and cleanliness will continue to be top of mind for travelers, driving a preference for private, entire homes over crowded hotels. Thirdly, international travel, especially long haul, will continue to be impacted and finally, having been isolated for much of 2020, people will want to use travel to reconnect with friends and family in safe and controlled ways. 

In 2021, travel will continue to be less about tourism and more about living, working and connecting safely away from home. Airbnb is ideally suited to meet these changing needs, whether providing an entire home to take a break from the city, to reconnect with loved ones or to try out a new neighborhood to move to. And its platform allows anyone with space to share to tap into these trends and earn some extra needed income.

Based on an analysis of search and booking data for next year, Airbnb is revealing the top four trends redefining travel in 2021:

Planning for the Future

While travel might look a little different in 2021, future adventures are keeping travelers inspired. Though travel restrictions are still in place, travelers are still dreaming of their next far flung adventure, as reflected in the top trending destinations by search for trips in 2021*. When the pandemic is over and travel restrictions begin to lift, travelers may be heading to vibrant cultural hubs, idyllic island clusters, and ethereal natural wonders first. 

From the sandy beaches of the Leeward Islands in French Polynesia to the bustling and futuristic streets of Seoul, South African guests’ worldly travel aspirations are alive and well:

  • The Leeward Islands, French Polynesia
  • Nampula Province, Mozambique
  • Nairobi County, Kenya
  • Hawaii, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea

Live Anywhere – Taking Life on the Road

In 2021, work from home could become work from any home as remote working continues to be a reality for many people. One of the ways travelers are taking advantage of this trend is trying before they buy–turning to Airbnb to test new neighborhoods and cities before making a long-term commitment. From July to September this year, there has been a 128 percent increase in guest reviews mentioning “relocation”, “relocate”, “remote work” and “trying a new neighborhood” in comparison to the same time frame last year. 

Redefining the Staycation 

As uncertainty persists, domestic travel will continue to be a key trend in 2021. Although most travel will remain closer to home in 2021, that doesn’t mean travelers aren’t having new, exciting adventures where they’re staying. Guests are expanding their horizons and seeking unique travel experiences by staying in one-of-a-kind stays on Airbnb. The top trending space types among travelers next year include a variety of spaces known for using less energy and producing less waste, including: 

  • Shepherd’s huts
  • Treehouses
  • Yurts
  • Barns
  • Cycladic houses 
  • Domes

The shift to more remote and socially-distanced stays is also reflected in some of the top booked space types. Entire homes have officially replaced apartments as the top space type among guests in 2021, providing controlled, private space for everyone. More off the beaten path stays like cabins and cottages crack the top five space types for 2021 trips, replacing villas and townhouses from 2020.

The Rise of Pod Travel 

2020 has made the craving for fundamental human connection very real, and this resonates in how people are thinking about travel in 2021. And, families are increasingly turning to Airbnb as a way to safely reconnect: over the summer, there were three times more wish lists including family in the title than last summer, and that trend has continued to increase with more than 2.5 times the inclusions this September compared to last year.  

Whether it means traveling to be close to family members, or reuniting to quarantine with a group of friends, “pod” travel is here to stay for those who want to safely be together while reducing risks associated with socializing with others.  And on Airbnb, over half of trips searched for next year include three or more people, showing how people are traveling together.

For those who are not hitting the open road, they can still connect with loved ones while apart through Online Experiences. And groups are already finding unique ways to share special moments together, from preparing home-cooked authentic meals, to putting their minds together in virtual scavenger hunts, to sparking their curiosity and creativity through drawing. Some of the most popular Online Experiences groups are taking together from October to the end of 2020 include:

*the biggest growth of searches for the following year, as of Sept 30th (comparing bookings for 2021 made between Jan and Sept 30 incl 2020 to bookings for 2020 made between Jan and Sept 30 2019)

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