Just like everything about 2020, travel trends in a time of global pandemic have become far less predictable.
However, Reflections Holiday Parks has been hard at work singling out trends they have identified from their customer base as travel-hungry Aussies begin to find new ways of exploring.
Here are the five main trends Reflections has stumbled across:
1. Back to basics
According to Reflections, more Aussies than ever are taking up camping and caravanning as we go in search of basic pleasures, time outdoors and budget-friendly travel options.
The holiday park group, who operate 37 parks across NSW, reckon they’ve had an increase of families and younger groups of friends since the pandemic began.
“Travelling is part of Australia’s DNA and not even a global pandemic will get in the way of our love to explore new places, meet different people and get out into nature,” said Jo Thomas from Reflections.
Thomas said more people are trying out camping for the first time in their adult lives after international holidays and cruises have halted.
She said people are looking to recreate nostalgic memories of their own childhood holidays by embracing simple pleasures.
“From marshmallows on the campfire to throwing out a fishing line, we’re finding those good feelings amongst the tremendous year,” she said.
2. Social selling points
Social distancing is now a selling point for destinations, accommodation, restaurants and festivals as travellers seek out safe experiences.
Along with price, location and weather, the ease at which social distancing can happen on holiday form a ‘new world travel checklist’.
Boutique accommodation with private villas, and in-room dining, are set to gain popularity as guests can keep to themselves without making any efforts to dodge other guests at the buffet.
Building a holiday around a music festival has long been popular over the summer months. Now and into the future, Reflections predicts we’ll see more drive-in music festivals or the use of individual fenced platforms for small groups to sit together – removing any opportunity for crowds.
Restaurants are also getting inventive with private dining spaces like glass greenhouses or igloos giving novelty to restrictions.
3. Dog holidays set to boom
With local road trips on the rise, and pet ownership at an all-time high, dog-friendly holidays set to boom. From campsites to luxe hotels, travellers are going to opt for places where pets are not just welcomed but embraced.
Since COVID-19, people seem to be more interested in going on holidays with their pets, according to veterinarian Dr Lisa Chimes.
“Just like us, humans, many dogs also enjoy a change in scenery and some time in big, wide-open spaces,” Chimes said.
With the boom in canine holidays, more dog-specific activities will pop up like stand up paddleboarding just for dogs.
4. Luxury reframed
What we once referred to as luxury travel will be reframed into an indulgence of experiences that help travellers find the feels.
From international hotel chains with chandeliers hanging in the marble foyer to connecting with Australia’s Indigenous heritage during a guided paddle with local Aboriginal guides who share stories as you taste seasonal bush tucker – it’s about the richness of experiences.
As we head into tough economic times, Reflections said flashy holidays will become cultural cringe. Social currency will instead be built around spending money in local and regional towns or bragging about authentic experiences like learning to fish with a local and then cooking your catch over an open fire.
5. Mum’s gone wild
Last year, a study published in Southern Living found that girl trips are proven to help with health and wellness.
The claims were blacked by Harvard Medical School which has stated strong friendships “not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet and not smoking.”
After various stints in lockdown and homeschooling, Aussies mums will embrace any opportunity to take short breaks together (sans children and partners). After all, Harvard encourages us to “choose activities that are most likely to bring joy to you and the people you care about”.