Man, what a year 2020 was. Sure, it’s just a number, but never did I expect to have such a crazy year of life. It’s really been the strangest and toughest I’ve lived, although there have been some bright spots. Travel was less than the previous couple years, but I still managed to get out of the country twice. January included a trip to London with my older two kids, and I snuck in a quick trip to Istanbul in September. The other travel was pretty close to home, including a couple hops to Las Vegas and a summer trip to Florida.

With 2020 now in the rear view mirror, I’m hopeful for how 2021 will unfold.

What The Trends Tell Us

Cruise bookings up for 2021, even as the industry hasn’t really gotten moving again. What’s crazy is that bookings are surging for 2022. It looks like some people are giving up on this year and looking even further ahead. Given the hassle and frustration of planning and then canceling trips, I can understand why some people are looking so far ahead. It is still an assumption that things will be “normal” again by then.

Rural travel is also notably popular. It makes sense that many people don’t want to be in crowded cities. I remember heading out to a local campground this past summer and being surprised that it was nearly 100% full (we got the last site!). This is at a place that I’ve never seen at more than 50% capacity. The rural outdoors is likely what we’ll see for much of U.S. summer travel. I would expect trips to national parks to be a hot ticket item as well.

The final thing we’re seeing is international travel focus on trips closer to home and on island travel. Interest in the Caribbean is up, with some islands seeing a 300% increase in interest. People want their beaches, but uncrowded. Mexico with its openness to international travel is another hot destination.

2021 travel planning

My Preliminary 2021 Travel Planning

Yet my own travel plans don’t really match any of those trends. Leading off 2021 is a trip to visit friends in Montana. I hop on a plane tomorrow, actually. It’s gonna be cold and snowy, but it’ll be fun to see people I don’t often spend much time with. At least a few have already had COVID-19, so hopefully the risk is even less than it otherwise would be.

Next up is a solo trip to São Paulo, Brazil. This was supposed to happen this past October, but I kicked it back a few months. The unfortunate part is that I would need a COVID-19 test to be able to enter Brazil, and this may not be possible to achieve within the required 72-hour window before departure. I may end up canceling the whole thing, but this depends on whether I find a testing facility that I’m confident will provide the necessary turnaround in the next couple weeks.

These two trips fill out January, but there is literally nothing on the agenda until July. (I have a February trip to still deal with, as the LATAM business class error fare has been canceled. But this certainly won’t be happening). The tickets in July are a Korean Air business class award to Seoul with my older son. I’m not fully confident this trip will happen, but I was happy to lock the award in thanks to Straight to the Points. If you haven’t subscribed to Spencer’s newsletter, I strongly recommend that you do. The award space alerts he provides are excellent.

My final itinerary has me in Munich for just under a week in late September for Okotberfest. I’ll be joining a few friends (plus a bunch of others), as long as things normalize. If there are still COVID-19 restrictions in the fall, I’ll likely be going insane. Let’s hope the spring brings some semblance of normal to the world.

These are my personal travel plans. I’ll likely fill more into the schedule, but I’m playing wait-and-see these first couple months as many countries are still locked down.

Final Thoughts

How about you? Do you have travel plans locked in for this year, or are you still in the middle of deciding whether to do any 2021 travel planning given the current COVID-19 situation?