Is it safe to travel yet?

This year will no doubt be an experiment in managing expectations for a return to “normalcy”, as fatigue, political divisiveness and downright apathy set in, keeping our safe return to offices, schools and houses of worship in question. Although more than 1 million travelers per day were screened by TSA this holiday season (despite warnings from top health officials), the reprise of leisure and business travel in 2021 will depend on a number of factors, from post-holiday spread of COVID-19, to efficacy of vaccine distribution, to civil unrest, cohesive messaging and enforcement of universal policies.

As we return to our virtual work routines, here are some trends projected to impact our return to travel in 2021.

Hotels and restaurants teaming up

With occupancy rates impacted by the lull in tourism and business travel, hotels are teaming up with restaurants in New York and other major cities to create exclusive dining and “staycation” experiences. Rooms and suites have been reconfigured to host private and small group dinners by signature culinary purveyors, giving locals an opportunity to dine out safely, enjoy a change of scenery and even stay overnight. Particularly desirable in cold-weather cities like New York where indoor dining is still restricted, look for this trend to continue to grow.

Mind, body, nature connection

To combat stress and anxiety, more and more people will seek retreats that focus on mental and physical fitness: communing with nature, immune-boosting treatments, and sleep and deep relaxation. Following months of zoom meetings and internet learning, digital detoxes will become more popular, as will active, low-impact holidays that are kinder to our environment and our bodies.

Book now, travel later

This may be the time to consider your “bucket list” adventures, as current low air fares and more lenient booking and cancellation restrictions may not last long. I came close to booking my return to Chile last week after receiving notice from Scott’s Cheap Flights of $300 round-trip fares to Santiago from NY. Frequent travelers have also found ample availability for seats using loyalty points, along with overall fewer restrictions, better booking and cancellation terms, and waivers of customary resort fees. Click here for more tips on canceling or rescheduling trips, including US airline policies.

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