While 2020 was filled with remote getaways and road trips, Americans are dreaming of island escapes and big city trips for next year, according to Expedia’s 2021 Travel Trends Report.
Of the most popular destinations people searched for, more than two-thirds are islands or beach destinations with Cancun and a grouping of Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum coming in as the top two, according to the report shared with Travel + Leisure, which looked at hotel searches from January through September.
Americans also set their sights on more far-flung destinations as well, including French Polynesia, which came in at No. 10, the Maldives, which came in at No. 11, and even Bali, which took the 20th spot.
In addition to beachy getaways, Americans have their eyes on big cities, searching for popular spots like Las Vegas (which has been open, but struggling to survive amid the pandemic) and New York.
That’s a sharp contrast from 2019 when travelers wanted to jet off to Lima, Osaka, and Lisbon. And an even starker contrast still from 2020’s trending destinations in which more remote options like Lake Havasu, Ariz., the Hamptons in New York, and Yellowstone National Park took the top spots.
“What we learned by looking at traveler behaviors in a year as unusual as 2020 is that travel will always be an integral part of our lives,” Christie Hudson, the senior PR manager for Expedia brand, said in a statement provided to T+L. “Travelers responded to the uncertainty and restrictions by finding ways to safely explore closer to home, and the result is a bigger emphasis on flexibility and a list of trending destinations that are inspiring and attainable for the year ahead.”
When it comes to booking next year’s vacations, Expedia noted that health and safety protocols as well as flexibility will be key. In fact, the site’s customers booked refundable rates 10% more this year compared to 2019.
And while people may be dreaming of burying their toes in the sand and whiling away the days in some gorgeous beach resort, most travelers have scheduled last-minute trips, booking their vacation just 29 days out on average since August.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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