What Will Travel Look Like in 2021 and Beyond?

We have every reason to believe 2021 is the year travel makes a comeback. But what will it look like, and what does it mean for you?

Here’s how we’re thinking about the future of travel.

We’re Sweet for Summer and All for Fall

Over 180 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. as of early April, according to the Center for Disease Control. This is exciting news! As more people get vaccinated, the demand for travel will continue to rise. This means countries will start reopening borders to meet that demand.

Maybe you’ve heard the terms “revenge travel” or “replacement vacations.” These buzzwords indicate how eager we all are to get back out into the world. Expect a lot of pent-up demand to start bubbling over in Summer 2021 as national regulations lift and continental travel (to places like Yellowstone) become accessible for more people.

Then, in the Fall, prepare to see international flights, hotels and travel businesses on an international scale at full or nearly full capacity. We recommend getting a head start on your plans to ensure you are not elbowing for space later in the year, when more people will be trying to making their plans.

The Same Ex-sight-ment

New, exciting sights are one of the fundamental joys of travel in our beautiful world. When international travelers return to their adventures, they will have access to the same beautiful landscapes, wildlife, cities and adventures they are used to. They will also play a critical role in saving the responsible tourism industry that is critical to the economy in some international destinations. It provides employment, food and education for communities, and in some places, also fuels wildlife conservation efforts.

No matter when you go, here’s what you should expect from an international adventure.

Expect Small Groups

When you travel in a small group, you reduce health risks for yourself and your fellow travelers. We predict this will be a trend for the foreseeable future as travelers look to strike the perfect balance between security and accessibility.

Biff Pusey stands with some family members in Tanzania.

Small group travel has been central to our travel philosophy since we opened our doors, and for good reason. With small groups, you have a more intimate, memorable and easy-to-navigate time on your trip, wherever you are in the world. Plus, small groups reduce your contact with strangers and keep you contained within your trip’s “bubble.” A win-win-win!

Check out our updated protocols page and read about what you can do to stay informed and stay healthy.

Travelers Will Prefer Private Choices

What’s more secure (and more memorable) than small groups? Private groups! Some families are already planning to go on completely private trips later in 2021 and beyond. By traveling only with family members and friends from their own personal “bubble,” these travelers further reduce their contact with strangers and stay far from crowds.

Private travel itineraries are loaded with perks, too: exclusive vehicles, exclusive guides and exclusive activities tailored just for your group. Private trips are fine-tuned to your tastes, with preferred dates and private lodging.

A private family adventure is a no-brainer for those who want the most peace of mind in their travels. Here are five reasons you might want a private family adventure.

Peace of Mind Matters

No matter when, or where, families travel, they deserve to feel comfortable with their vacation choice. It shouldn’t feel like a risk to simply reserve space on a trip. As 2021 progresses, travelers will be more likely to reserve their dream vacation if the company they work with offers flexible booking policies and generous time for rescheduling and cancellation.

At Thomson Family Adventures, we have reworked our policies with this in mind. Our Book Now, Pay Later policy allows travelers to reserve space on a safari without placing a deposit. This flexibility helps travelers comfortably secure space without any financial commitments.

Making the Most of Travel

We’ve all been stuck at home for a long, long time, and many travelers will be looking to offset this by getting the most value out of their airplane ticket as possible. One way they will do this is with personal guides who specialize in family travel – they know how to keep kids entertained with games and fun facts, while also enhancing their connection to the travel destination.

Our Rafiki program provides just that: meaning “friend” in Swahili, a rafiki enhances the overall trip experience to engage the children in their new surroundings.

Here are some things you might expect from a rafiki:

  • Kid-friendly enrichment activities, such as games, puzzles and insider information about your destination’s culture, nature and scenery.
  • Icebreakers and other low-stress activities to help kids connect and learn more about each other.
  • Games, puzzles and other things to do during delays, flights and transfers.
  • A chance for the parents to relax! Your trip should be stress-free, and your rafiki will help keep the kids engaged and learning during the trip.

Safety First

Above everything else, safety precautions will remain a fact of life for travel in 2021 and beyond. That means social distancing, mask-wearing and frequent handwashing won’t be going away anytime soon.

Until they do, we’ll be keeping up with CDC recommendations and adjusting our Standard Operating Procedures as necessary. We’re also keeping an eye on what other countries around the world are doing. We sometimes modify our protocols accordingly to ensure you can have the trip you have always wanted.

Overall, families are looking to the future with tempered optimism – they have every reason to do so. In 2021 and beyond, they are looking to have new travel experiences and make new memories to replace the ones they lost.