Family travel trends to consider in the new year

Lynn O’Rourke Hayes

As a vaccine program rolls out, families are considering the prospect of a vacation beyond their own backyard. Here are five family travel trends to consider in 2021.

1. Road trips will continue to rule.

Whether you load into the family SUV, stretch out in an RV or test the promise of “van life,” research suggests that the open road will continue to lure traveling families. With gas prices in the affordable range, why not explore a National Scenic Byway or delve into an historic route.  Popular pathways include Colorado’s San Juan Skyway, sometimes called the “million dollar highway.” Make your way along this extraordinarily spectacular drive through southwestern Colorado to appreciate jagged peaks, pastoral valleys, waterfalls and colorful canyons. In Arizona, Monument Valley delivers 250 million-year-old red rock formations, magical light and native American history in an iconic landscape. In Virginia, travelers can meander along the crest of the mountains through the woods and past spectacular vistas on Skyline Drive as it twists and turns through Shenandoah National Park.

Contact:; ;

A man on a horse walks on John Fords Point beneath the Three Sisters in Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border in a July 2014 file image.

2. Multigenerational gatherings.

Grandparents are missing their grandkids. The cousins haven’t connected in months. And, Zoom sessions and FaceTime moments just aren’t the same. So expect to see families reuniting on the beach, at the guest ranch, and in all-inclusive resorts once the virus is under control. Meanwhile, family and friend groups (who can afford the eye-popping price tags) are buying out small resorts, convening in expansive rental properties and even renting their own private islands to maximize their safety. No matter where the gatherings take place, the long-awaited reunions will be well-appreciated.


3. If not now, when?

Among the lessons we’ve learned during the global pandemic, is that our ability to travel where and when we please is not guaranteed. Going forward, families may think twice before putting that bucket list or dream trip on the back burner. We’ve long been reminded that kids grow up fast and that the older generation won’t always be with us. But now, we have more reasons than ever to block out vacation time and to celebrate birthdays, graduations and anniversaries, knowing those milestone moments are an important touchstone and meaningful part of a family’s legacy.

4. Work and learn in the location of your choice.

We’ve all learned new skills during the pandemic. We now know that the career can stay on track when we work remotely and that the kids can learn outside the classroom. So in the year ahead, research tells us that more families will choose to spend longer periods of time in far-flung places, taking meetings from a hammock and learning in the local environment. Resorts are making it easier by offering packages that encourage “educations” and “work from hotel” options.


5. Opt outside.

During the global pandemic more families have discovered the great outdoors. From camping trips and rafting adventures, to bird watching and star gazing, scores of people have discovered the solace and beauty that can be found in the wide-open spaces offered by the natural world. Experts expect the trend to continue as sales of outdoor gear, including backcountry skis, tents, bikes and kayaks, continue to spike.


 Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via