Adjusting to travel in 2021

Editors discuss how travellers (themselves included) will change the way they travel in 2021…

One month into the new year and everything feels, well, the same. Globally, we have endured almost an entire year of the harsh realities of pandemic life and the general consensus is that we’re all in dire need of an extra-long, switch-off-and-recharge holiday. Count me in.

Yesterday was National Plan for Vacation Day in the US, which feels both apt and bittersweet at the same time. Its intent is to remind travel addicts, early on in the year, to start planning the best possible use of their hard-earned leave days instead of letting it become a last-minute scramble towards the end of the year.

Dream, plan, do

The facts: we’re all craving a drastic change of scenery and break from our work-from-home monotony; many of us are desperate to reunite with faraway friends and family; and we can all agree that (a lot) more emphasis on the ‘life’ portion of our work/life balance is needed. Yet those international travel restrictions and challenges persist.

There is hope and the beloved, hard-hit travel industry will hopefully soon see a joyous revival. As the world waits for the vaccine rollouts to start taking effect, the key is to keep dreaming of, and planning for, travel’s grand resurgence.

Remember, planning is half the fun. These four-letter words will help inspire a travel state of mind. Start talking to your quaranteam, agree on a destination, then get lost in a virtual rabbit hole of the dreamy luxury properties, once-in-a-lifetime adventures, foreign foods and must-see landscapes of that destination. Plan now, so that, together, you can enjoy brighter (travel) days ahead.

Renowned travel editors weigh in

So, what does travel in 2021 look like? What should we take into consideration when planning? As the world of travel radically shifts and travellers slowly start to gain the confidence to get back out there, who better to offer advice than some of the world’s most renowned travel editors?

From Condé Nast and Town & Country, to Tatler and Travel+Leisure, these well-travelled editors certainly know a thing or two about travel planning. Here are their responses to two of the burning questions people have about travel in 2021:

  1. What is the one piece of advice you would give around planning for, and adapting to, post-(and mid) pandemic travel?
  2. Where will you travel to first in 2021?


Melinda Stevens

Editor-in-Chief, Condé Nast Traveller UK

“I’m going to go back to how I used to travel, and how I feel we should and must travel now. Grab a rucksack, head off the tourist track, go for as long as humanly possible, be open in heart and head to everyone I meet, relish difference, treat with respect, pay well, and give back with time, effort or resource.

I don’t know Vietnam very well, but have a longing for it. Also, Sumatra. I’ve been to many of the Indonesian islands, but not this one, and therefore am very curious. Also, perhaps the less-known islands of the Cyclades, Tinos or Syros. Fundamentally, I am very happy in a shack on the beach under the stars and near seawater. With cold beer and good books. And friends with ready laughs.”

Jesse Ashlock

Deputy Global Editorial Director, Condé Nast Traveler

“The wise travellers are the ones who are making plans now. I don’t think a lot of people appreciate how much demand there will be once everyone is confident about travelling again, and supply could become a real quandary, especially for peak travel dates.

We plan to go first to Northern California, my homeland, to spend time with my father, who (it shocks me to say this) we haven’t seen in two years. Other family trips will follow, to South Korea (also long overdue) and Hungary.”

Klara Glowczewska

Executive Travel Editor, Town & Country

“Start planning your first trips now. Once we’re vaccinated and it feels safe, there will be a sudden tipping point—and a mad rush to go. Be ready, or you’ll be locked out. I would love a blow-out trip to Africa with my family in the early fall—the inherent distancing, the wildlife, the wilderness.

A week at least on a Caribbean beach would soothe the soul. And France is really calling to me. And Patagonia. And, always, Egypt, this time to see the new Grand Egyptian Museum, by the Pyramids, and to revisit Siwa oasis, in the Western Desert. I’d like to experience what the Maldives are all about. As you can see, I have a problem.”

Kissa Castañeda

Editorial Director — Travel & Design, Tatler Asia

“A year of no travel has changed me profoundly. It really hit home around August 2020—a time when I optimistically thought I could travel somewhere in Asia, but of course, ended up not going anywhere. Instead of mourning months of being grounded in Singapore, I decided to change my perspective and shifted from “travelling like a local” to “travelling in your local”.

As travel remains restricted this year, we should use this opportunity to go out and support our local communities. We can holiday at home through seeing our own countries with new eyes—practice forest bathing in an old hiking trail for instance or do workcations or “petcations” in an amazing hotel. We should also use the learnings from 2020 and apply them to travel’s new normal. The bucket list mentality is passé, so is the idea of “Insta-travel”. We’re given the chance to relive the romance of travel, and we should seize it.

Read more

Post-pandemic, we should travel slowly, purposefully and understand that it is not a right but a privilege. One of my favourite aspects of travelling is the planning phase and we have ample time to savour this process, be it researching what’s special about a destination or reading books set in that location to get in the mood. The concept of “regenerative travel” has also been trending for good reason: as we pause to think of the environmental impact of travel, it reinforces the need to support establishments that help make it a more sustainable pursuit.

The first place I’d like to go to in 2021 is either to the Philippines or to Ireland for one reason alone: to see family. It’s been difficult living away from my immediate family during this pandemic and it would be great to see everyone again in person, hopefully sharing a beautiful meal together.

In terms of leisure travel, Japan is on the top of my list. Having lived and studied there for seven years, I consider it my second home and needless to say, it holds a special place in my heart. Japan is also very conducive to the kind of travel that I enjoy most—a mix of high and low, slow and fast, old and new.”

Jacqui Gifford

Editor-in-Chief, Travel+Leisure

“The hardest part is the getting there: as much as we all want to be away from home right now, the reality is we’ve been at home now for quite some time. And those first few steps back out into the real world are nerve wracking. It will take five, maybe even seven days on the ground in your island, safari, urban or rural environment to settle in. But once you do, the trip takes on a life of its own and unfamiliar surroundings, you’ll find, quickly begin to feel like home. A new home.

I celebrated the New Year with my husband and son in Anguilla. I was (and still am) very conflicted about travelling—for all the obvious reasons. These are unprecedented times. My heart breaks for people who have lost loved ones. Travel and tourism has also never faced a crisis like this, and though I am hopeful for better days in 2021, I also believe that we can’t magically expect things to return to the “Before” times and my industry is adapting as rapidly as it can.

Read more

I won’t travel half as much as I did in 2019, when I sometimes flew every other week. But I do feel the need to report on what I am calling the “In Between” times, with all new protocols in place, so that our readers can know what the international experience is like on the road and in the skies.

I’m still trying to figure this all out after almost a year of not travelling beyond the tri-state area. Some people say they want to explore a new place when they set out again. Others want to return to a longtime love where the familiar scenery can bring great joy. Both are worthy goals, and my new year’s resolution is to do both. Safely.”


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