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Wanderlust: 2021, the return of travel?

Posted on December 7, 2020 by Vicky Smith

With a vaccine ready to go and a weary public desperate to get away from it all, it looks like 2021 is set to be the year of travel!

Coupled with a better understanding of how the virus spreads, improved testing regimes and more effective treatments, whichever way you look at it, we are going into 2021 with far more certainty than we’ve had all year.

If 2020 was the year the coronavirus brought the world to its knees, then 2021 looks set to be the year we get back up again and we finally have the tools to win the fight.

We do still need to approach travel in the New Year with some caution

While a vaccine administered to most of the UK population would make a huge difference, it’s been said repeatedly that this is no silver bullet for beating the pandemic.

Social distancing, effective testing and self-isolation if you have symptoms will continue to be crucial in 2021.


It will take time to get a working vaccine rolled out not just to the UK, but across the globe. Some countries may struggle with the enormous undertaking of vaccinating the majority of their citizens.

For these reasons travellers will need to be realistic about what holidays in 2021 will look like. They may become easier, but it’s likely they won’t be completely back to normal.

What will travel be like in 2021

There are still a few “ifs” around travelling in 2021, but health secretary Matt Hancock has indicated we could start getting back to normal in the UK “some time after Easter”.

Other countries such as the US, Spain, France and Germany have announced their plans for mass vaccination programmes. This means some of our favourite holiday destinations are likely to make similar progress to us in getting citizens vaccinated.

If this succeeds in bringing virus levels down, then travel to these destinations may be easier and feel much more normal. It’s likely that some countries will still require mask wearing and ask people to observe strict hygiene measures.


Travel restrictions in 2020 have made holidays difficult

Holidaymakers have had to comply with quarantine rules for certain countries not on the UK travel corridor list.

This system of requiring returning travellers to isolate is likely to continue, certainly at the start of 2021.

But as mass testing programmes continue to grow, we may see the greater availability of tests help to cut isolation requirements.

Some nations, such as Italy, have required travellers to show they have had a negative covid-19 test result in the 48 hours before they arrived.

This could be coupled with a request for proof of vaccination from people who enter countries where coronavirus rates are very low. There have been debates already over whether an “immunity passport” may be required for travel in the future.

For these reasons it will be important for anyone travelling abroad in the New Year to keep an eye on their destination’s rules for travel as well as the UK Government’s own travel advice.

The travel corridor list is updated regularly, so check it before you book and just before you are due to depart.

How will holidaymakers respond to easing of travel restrictions

Although there are still many uncertainties, all of the signs are pointing to 2021 being far easier to get away from it all.

There are already great offers for travel abroad from January 2021 open for booking.

This has been a stressful year, with disruption to our daily lives from the pandemic, tragic loss of life, and hundreds of thousands of job losses.

Because of this, people are itching to get away from home to unwind. A holiday, whether at home or abroad, is always a popular way of relaxing and getting away from the stress of everyday life.

Some key trends we may see in 2021 travel are:

People are likely to make up for travel they missed in 2020 by going ‘all-out’ in 2021. It’s thought that more people will aim to travel abroad, because they have faced such harsh restrictions through most of 2020. Many experts are already pointing to there being a sharp rebound for the holiday industry as people are already planning how they will make the most of travel freedoms returning.

Multi-generational travel
As people have been unable to spend as much time with their loved ones it’s also likely we may see more multi-generational holidays in 2021. Families will want to spend quality time with each other having spent a year of social distancing or in lockdown.

Bucket list holidays
Far-flung destinations may also be on the top of the people’s agenda, as they seek to finally take that ‘bucket list’ trip somewhere they have always dreamed of visiting.

Family favourites
A return to the places that brought joy on previous holidays. Whether they are at home or abroad, people may seek to recreate old memories in places they loved visiting in the past.

Speaking of family favourites, our own figures tell us Europe will still be the destination of choice for many Brits. Our bookings show 44% of travellers are planning on heading to Spain in 2021.


Graphic showing 44% of Staysure bookings for 2021 are for travel to Spain

With scientists and politicians warning life may remain restricted until after spring, it’s likely many families will choose a staycation as these are far less likely to be disrupted. Beaches in Cornwall and beautiful hiking trails in the Lake District are likely to prove popular.

The return of the cruise
All cruises have been suspended through to the end of the year. P&O has announced it is focusing on Summer 2022 for its big comeback and is already reporting a huge response in bookings.
As we go into 2021 we still have a few unknowns, but the odds are stacking up in our favour to make 2021 a year when we get back to the things we love. Travel is sure to be top of that list.

Vicky Smith

by Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith is a journalist and freelance content creator. She loves to travel with her family. Her favourite place in the world is a sandy beach in Cornwall.