travel trends 2021 Dharana at Shillim

Wanderlist – the top places we’re dreaming of

The pandemic has changed how we want to travel going forward – here’s why and the places on our wanderlist…

Wellness holidays

2020 brought an increased emphasis on staying healthy. We’ll be looking for trips that promise to promote our wellbeing – and after the trials of the last year, who doesn’t need that?

Where to go: Kagi Maldives Spa Island offers a personalised wellness programme, with alternative therapies including crystal and sound healing, lifestyle and health coaching and nutrition lessons. There’s also day-and-night snorkelling, scuba diving, and sailing boat trips.

Wilderness retreats

2020 showed us how to appreciate the small things in life and get out into nature. Our holidays look set to reflect that with travellers seeking destinations where they can escape to the great outdoors. Many people are seeking rural destinations away from the crowds. Villa holidays in remote locations will be in big demand.

Where to go: Stay at the Manor House in Corfu in the hills above Kassiopi, featuring five bedrooms, an infinity pool with sea views across to the mountains of Albania.

If you want to stay closer to home, the Highlands of Scotland provide a stunning rural escape. Try The Torridon where you can spend your time in the great outdoors, munro bagging and wild swimming, before returning to a choice of 365 malts in the Whisky Bar.

Last-minute trips and flexibility

We’ll be more inclined than ever to leave booking until the last minute to check on the latest health situation. Plus, we want to know our travel bookings have some flexibility should we need to change them. Specialist travel agents with tailored packages and expert advice are the way to go.

Road trips will be on the up as we seek more private ways to travel and glampervanning is going to be a big trend for those who want their own space to stay in, too.

Where to go: Visit Rome for a short break, staying at the four-star Hotel D’Inghilterra, close to the bottom of the Spanish Steps and adjacent to Via Condotti.

Take an incredible driving tour of some of the classic roads across Europe in a supercar.


With WFH a foreseeable fixture, we will see the rise of the workation. Already UK hotels are offering packages where you can pack up your laptop, stay overnight and work somewhere new but this will be taken to whole new levels as people look to extended trips to far-flung places, combining work with downtime at the beach.

Where to go: Remote workers can gaze over the Pacific Ocean from their new ‘office’ at The Retreat in Costa Rica. Set in lush jungle, the yoga and wellness sessions and calm environment will set you up for a productive day of work.

Quinta do Lago resort in the Algarve has two long-term rental packages, providing guests with a smooth work set up, alongside access to fantastic sports and wellness facilities. How about pastel de nata with your morning coffee while you check emails then a lunchtime cycle ride through the Ria Formosa Natural Park to make you more productive for the afternoon ahead?

Eco trips

The last few years have seen sustainability pushed to the top of our agendas, and this has extended into how and where we travel. 2020 really brought that to the fore, with many of us taking a good look at our impact on the planet.

Where to go: Dharana at Shillim is one of the world’s best spas and wellness destinations but it also has eco credentials, too. The retreat, in India’s Western Ghats, is set on the edge of over 3000 acres of fertile reforestation after years of slash and burn. Guests have their own spa villas at this ayurvedic retreat, which is plastic-free and grows much of its own food organically.

Making up for lost time

Whether it is celebrating a special occasion that was put on hold from 2020 or simply that we can’t wait to see the word again, we’re planning those big trips to places we have always wanted to go. And the pandemic has given us a damn good kick to actually tick off what’s on our bucket lists.

Where to go: With the majestic Pitons rising above, Jade Mountain is a spectacular place to be for that special birthday or romantic anniversary. Spend the days lounging in your infinity pool, gazing at the view, or consult with the Hiking Butler to experience the island’s scenic trails so you can recharge in nature.

Experiential family trips

Remember all that home-schooling and poring over an atlas with the kids as an attempted geography lesson? If it stoked their wanderlust, then there are some incredible trips that will show them what a wonderful world we really do live in, in spite of everything chucked at us with the pandemic.

Where to go: Explore the incredible desert landscapes of Namibia at Little Kulala. There are far-reaching views from each of the 11 suites. Join a drive to the Sossusvlei dunes, head on guided walking trails and then spend the evenings stargazing.

Travel to Japan to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. Wild Frontier’s 14-day journey includes guided walks in Tokyo, a Bullet Train to Kanazawa, a cycle ride in Kyoto, and learning the techniques of the samurai

A travel expert advises…

In 2021 we expect Europe to be extremely popular as people start to adjust back into travelling. I think one key message from me to everyone would be to book early to avoid disappointment for the peak dates. A lot of people moved their holidays from 2020 to 2021, so in effect there is going to be less capacity due people having to rebook and also a lot of airlines have already reduced the number of flights or completely stopped routes for 2021.

In regards to types of holidays, we are seeing a much higher interest in rooms with private pools, private villas on resorts and generally holidays that give people that feel of their own space which is only to be expected.

I think anyone that didn’t book via a trusted travel professional in 2020 will have really felt the pain of having to rearrange or getting refunds for their holidays. We expect to (and actually have already started to see) a rise in clients wanting to use a travel professional for that personal service and knowing that if something does go wrong you will have someone to pick up the phone to, rather than waiting on hold to a call centre for 2 weeks. Ultimately when booking your travel plans you want confidence, financial security and to ensure that you are completely informed of what your options are.

Mark Swords, Swords Travel

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