Ink insights, part 3
#traveltrends2021

Ink invited 100+ leading names in travel to reveal where their wanderlust will take them after lockdown. So far, we have identified new reasons to travel in part 1, defined new traveller tribes in part 2 and, in this final instalment, we’ll reveal our panel’s pick of next year’s new travel trends.

Slow travel 2.0

In the short term, it’s commonly accepted that domestic travel will be the first sector of the industry to recover, but there is a growing hunger among our contributors to head off to far-flung destinations for an epic journey of discovery. From climbing a mountain to long-distance bike rides through exotic climes, these trips combine bucket-list experiences with a desire for multi-destinational travel – providing the opportunity to visit a variety of different places along the way. And while many may go it alone, the majority of our panel will also be looking to tour operators to offer them the support and guidance they need to build these bespoke adventures.

As a result, people will not just be travelling further, but also longer. The crisis has brought on a widespread realisation that life can be better when it moves at a slower pace. That means – money and time permitting – there is a desire to “travel” rather than just to “holiday”. And this backpacking mentality, once a privilege of young students, is becoming increasingly popular with adults and families, who are now considering sabbaticals and a more immersive experience when venturing far.

“Plotting an epic road trip through the American West has eased my quarantine blues. Those diverse landscapes from Montana down to Arizona and New Mexico, which are populated by the most iconic national parks in the country, have inspired some evocative daydreaming sessions recently.”
Jordan Blumetti
Editor

“I have always wanted to do a Motorcycle Diaries-type bike adventure and top of the list, I want to explore the Tibetan Plateau culminating in a view of Mount Everest. An adventure like this will always have incredible encounters and humbling experiences, which I’m craving.”
Ben Read
Travel photographer

“After so much time at home, I’m dreaming of an extended wilderness trek through Chile’s new Route of Parks. I’d focus on Pumalín Park, and end in time for the total solar eclipse in mid-December, allowing me to find a new meaning for corona — in the corona of the sun.”
Serena Renner
Writer

Travel with a human face

We are inherently social beings and one of the toughest things about lockdown has been the restricted human interaction. Whether with existing friends or complete strangers, nearly all of our contributors revealed that when they venture out again they are looking forward most to connecting with others on the ground, in order to see the destinations they visit through the eyes of those who know those places best. After all, it’s the people we meet along the way who really shape our travel stories.

Next year, therefore, will see a continued rise in people looking for authentic experiences on their trips. Whether that’s the opportunity to stay with locals or partake in unique activities and events, such as craft workshops or food tours, which enable them to interact with residents. It’s through people and their stories that we truly get to experience a destination and understand its culture with all its facets. And now the virus has reminded us how connected we are as a global community, many inhibitions about cultural or language barriers have been overcome.

“I want to eat ramen in Tokyo and get swept up in the throngs crossing at Shibuya. I want to, as Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in City of Girls, ‘relish the sensation of being one small dot in a larger ocean of souls.’”
Lucy Brook
Travel journalist

“When I’m sitting in the sun, I imagine the warmth I’m feeling that comes from sharing a cup of Persian tea in Shiraz, Iran, with new friends; or from light reflecting off the Mediterranean; or from a shy smile exchanged with a weaver in Panajachel, Guatemala.”
Hannah Lott-Schwartz
Travel journalist

“Being starved of human contact during this lockdown, I’ll be heading for one of the largest social gatherings on Earth – the Goroka Sing-Sing in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.”
James Michael Dorsey
Explorer, author and photographer

Mindfulness goes mainstream

For many contributors, this pandemic has provided them with a new perspective on life – meaning they are less worried about the future and more resolved to live in the moment. Not only will this spark a rise in adventure trips, as people strive to tick off those items on the bucket-list (see trend 1), but it also means that there will be a growing demand for holidays that are more conscious about the environment around them.

To tap into this momentum, travel brands will need to respond to this new paradigm. So, what does that mean? Health and hygiene will become more important when choosing a destination. And while some are seeking out remote landscapes to escape the masses, others in contrast can’t wait to plunge themselves into the melting-pot mix of this world’s megacities – but to do so in a way that is respectful and curious. They are united, post-Covid, by a new, more mindful perspective.

“An invisible bug could have done away with all my plans, as it did for so many. I would be a fool not to resolve to live even just a little more in the moment from now on.”
Alya Honasan
Author

“After this, you’ll find me in China, Bhutan, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, and finally Fiji. A tour of all the places I have intended to go but never quite managed to make it. I always thought there would still be time; now I know there isn’t.”
Lisen Stromberg
Strategist, keynote speaker and author

“Coronavirus has taught us that life is fragile and short. That the world is big and beautiful. I’m thankful for the lesson and eager for the plane flight.”
Jenny Adams
Writer and photographer

The takeaway

It’s happening. The travel-hungry are getting ready to travel – and they want to go further, deeper, for longer to make their travel dreams come true. They’re yearning for meaningful experiences, be it via local connections or life-changing challenges that propel them out of their comfort zone. So, what next? Travel brands – from airlines, hotels to tour operators – have a new mission: to rebuild trust, educate new behaviours and inspire with authentic stories that can channel this bubbling travel lust. Effectively, they have to get their communication right and creativity will be the differentiator here. It’s all about capturing consumers’ imaginations, while still informing in an appropriate, brand-specific and engaging way. People are ready to spend and return to a travel-rich lifestyle, now it’s up to the industry to get it right.

Click here to download a copy of Part 3

Check out part 1: #dreamofthemoment for new reasons to travel and part 2: #traveltomorrow for more insights on the new types of traveller