Travelers In 2021 Want More Sand, Fewer People—and Insurance

by Jason Metz

Forbes Advisor

Tuesday December 22, 2020

Americans with an eye for vacation travel in 2021 are looking for sun and solitude over skyscrapers and crowds. Nearly two-thirds of travelers (65%) say the ability to avoid packed places is a more important factor in their choice of destination than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report from Tripadvisor and Phocuswright that analyzed global traveler behavior in the wake of the pandemic.

More than half (52%) of the report's survey respondents said they are more likely to take an outdoor/nature trip than they were before the pandemic. Key West, Myrtle Beach and Sedona are travel destinations that have been recovering faster than destinations such as New York and Las Vegas, based on Tripadvisor's tracking of demand for domestic accommodations.

Here are some travel trends for 2021.

The Desire to Travel Is Strong

Despite global uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, 65% of Tripadvisor and Phocuswright's survey respondents said they are still thinking about where they want to go next.

"The good news is that consumers' desire to travel remains incredibly resilient, and that pent-up demand bodes well for the travel industry in the long run," says Steve Kaufer, CEO of Tripadvisor.

Recent news of promising vaccines will help propel a natural inclination toward wanderlust. Confidence in travel is highest in the U.S. among the six countries analyzed in the report. Almost half (48%) of U.S. survey respondents said they felt more confident to travel in the next three months compared to the previous three.

Caribbean Countries are the Most Popular U.S. Tourism Destinations

Islands in the Caribbean account for half of the top 10 destinations for American travelers, according to Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site. This is likely due to travel restrictions and border closures.

Prior to COVID-19, only the Bahamas and Costa Rica made the top 10 list. Now Aruba, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have become the fastest-growing international destinations.

Travelers Should Remain Flexible For 2021

Even with encouraging news of vaccines, flexibility will be key for travelers who book trips in 2021. There is still a lot of uncertainty in the coming months, so it's a good idea to take advantage of refundable rates whenever possible.

Travel insurance is another good way to stay flexible. You can purchase a mix of coverage types that will reimburse your nonrefundable trip expenses if something goes awry. For example, trip cancellation insurance can cover the nonrefundable, prepaid portions of your trip if it's cancelled for an unforeseeable event, like a natural disaster or severe weather.

And of course top of travelers' minds is the coronavirus. The best pandemic travel insurance plans offer COVID-related coverage, including medical and cancellation coverage. Many travel insurance policies exclude the pandemic, so make sure to find a policy that covers COVID.

Another option to consider: cancel for any reason insurance. This typically reimburses between 50% to 75% of your prepaid trip costs if you want to cancel for any reason, whether it's because of COVID or a good new series on Netflix. Cancel for any reason insurance typically costs about 40% to your overall travel insurance cost and you usually need to add it within 7 to 21 days of your initial trip payment.

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