Moving Forward: The Future of Travel in 2021 and Beyond

Jessica Larson

 

When you’re on vacation, your surroundings can change suddenly. One minute, you’re driving past open fields. Then, all of a sudden, you’re in a landscape of tall buildings and industrial sites. A few miles later, you might be climbing the mountains or up a hillside bluff overlooking the ocean.

The past couple of years have been a lot like this, as we’ve had to navigate through the shifting landscape of the pandemic. Even in the best of times, travel can be unpredictable.

On the road, we usually have a GPS or map to tell us what’s ahead so we know what to expect. During the pandemic, we’ve been blind to the rapidly changing aspects of travel. Fortunately, we’re starting to get a better sense of where we’re headed. 

Here are a few things we can reasonably expect from travel for the remainder of 2021 and beyond. 

 

 

Domestic Travel is “In”

The United States continues to lead the world in the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19. However, with vaccine rates increasing, domestic travel could be safer than many international destinations during the second half of the year.

 

Even though it comes with its own constraints and challenges, road trips and short flights within the U.S. are how many people will ease into traveling again. The emphasis for airlines and accommodation providers will be on cleanliness and social distancing. In many cases, these enhanced health and safety measures will stick around as a way to prevent future outbreaks and bolster consumer confidence.

 

If you plan to travel abroad, look into where different countries stand in terms of COVID risk levels according to the CDC. Then find out what restrictions are in effect and tailor your plans to fit them. Some countries aren’t open to U.S. visitors; others require a negative test within 72 hours, and still others require proof of medical insurance, among varying regulations.

 

 

Prices Are Rising

Whether it’s airfare, gasoline, or lodging, expect prices to rise as more destinations open back up. It’s largely about supply and demand.

 

  • Air travel — Airline tickets are already back to (and in some cases have surpassed) pre-pandemic levels, as vacationers seek to feed their pent-up desire for air travel even as business flights begin to ramp up again. Add to that airlines’ desire to recoup some of the money they lost during the pandemic and higher fuel costs, and you have a recipe for high ticket prices. 

 

Domestic U.S. fares rose by 9 percent just between April 1 and May 23, 2021. If you think you want to travel by air, it’s a good idea to nail down your plans and book a flight as soon as possible, because prices will keep rising as the peak summer travel season hits.

 

  • Lodging — Hotel rates are headed upward, too. If you traveled to Hawaii in May, you could expect to pay an average of $269 a night, up from just $122 a year before and slightly higher than the pre-pandemic rate of $263 in 2019.

 

Look for special deals available through online apps like Hotels.com, and free nights that may be offered through customer loyalty programs for those apps or individual 

hotel/motel chains.

 

  • Gasoline — Gas prices, which dropped below $2 a gallon last year for the first time since 2016 amid a COVID-driven drop in demand, were back above $3 this spring and continuing to rise. It’s worth checking out the price for the state(s) where you’ll be traveling, because there’s a lot of variation from Mississippi to California. 

 

Amid the rising prices and the financial uncertainty the pandemic has caused, people are paying more attention to how much their vacations will cost and planning for the unexpected. When making a travel budget, include everything from the above necessities to intangibles like admission to museums or amusement parks to souvenirs. 

 

You’ll want to have extra cash and credit on hand, too, in case of emergencies. If you don’t have a credit card with available funds, one option is to open a secured account. You make a deposit, and the creditor provides access to a line of credit. This will allow you to pay for common travel expenses like hotel incidentals and rental cars without tying up your cash for days or weeks at a time. It will also provide financial peace of mind.

 

 

Destinations Are Crowded

During lockdown, people opted outside, where it was safer. While we’ll have to wait and see if that trend sticks around, popular outdoor vacation spots like beaches, national parks, and theme parks will be more crowded, so you should prepare for longer lines and less elbow room. 

 

Safeguard your health by taking along a COVID safety kit. Even as the COVID threat recedes, items like face masks, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer are worth having to safeguard against other viruses and will likely remain a travel staple. 

 

With the growing popularity of road trips, traffic will be heavier too. That means chances of  problems on the road will be greater. Do what you can ahead of time by having your car tuned and oil changed before you head out, especially if you haven’t been driving as much during the pandemic. Check your brake pads for wear and your tires for tread issues, bulging, and cracking. With more cars on the road, preventing issues that frequently cause accidents (like tire blowouts) is even more vital now. 

 

The pandemic changed the equation for travel, and now late-pandemic conditions are doing the same as we ease away from isolation.

 

 

Author Bio:

Jessica Larson is a married Midwestern mom and a solopreneur. She creates online courses for students, and has started and run several other businesses through the years. Larson’s goal is to support her family while actually spending time with them, to act as an entrepreneurial role model for her two daughters, and to share what she has learned through The Solopreneur Journal.

 

For Highbrow Magazine

 

Image Sources:

--Pxfuel (Creative Commons)

--Maxpixel.net (Creative Commons)

--justinsomnia (Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

--Pierre Laurent Durantin (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

 

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