7 Travel Trends That Will Change The Way You Holiday In 2021

By Morgan Reardon
4th Dec 2020

a woman sits on rocks looking out at crystal clear water and boats sailing in the distance.

While the world of tourism was forced to hit the pause button in 2020 after a truly tumultuous year, in 2021 we’re chomping at the bit to get back out there. But before you blow all of your annual leave on that ‘Gram-worthy holiday that you’ve been pining for, it’s important to get clued up on what travel trends and destinations are going to take off over the next 12 months.

So if you want to check off those goose-bumping inducing locations and experiences before everyone else, keep reading.

These are the biggest travel trends of 2021.

Take It Slow

Remember when travelling to 20 European destinations while using just 12 days of annual leave was high on the travel agenda—not so in 2021, and that’s not just because we likely can’t travel to all of those places, but more because we’re slowing things down. This means doing away with holidays that leave you feeling like you need to book another one just to recover. Slow travel is about ticking off fewer destinations and taking the longer (read: more scenic) route, like trains (yes, we have some epic ones in Australia), road tripping and just generally taking your sweet ass time. It’s also better for the environment because fewer flights = less greenhouse gas emissions. 

Immerse Yourself In Culture

When we did a travel survey earlier this year, loads of UL readers revealed they loved discovering and immersing themselves in new culture when they travel OS. Fortunately Australia has one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world so you needn’t go too far to experience First Nations history. If you’re looking to find out more about First Nations owned and operated travel companies, check out this game-changing new platform that just launched. 

A First Nations man ties a maroon bandana around his read. His arms and face are covered in traditional white paint.


While state borders have finally opened (thank you premiers), lots of us will choose to holiday in our own backyard in 2021, opting for a staycation over getting on a plane. That luxe boutique hotel that opened in your city isn’t just for tourists. Take a long weekend, pop on a robe and soak up those vacation vibes (Find some inpo here). And while you’re at it, head out to local cafes and restaurants for brekky, lunch and dinner, supporting the hospitality industry that was hit hard during the pandemic. You’ll be surprised at  just how many epic spots there are in your city that you haven’t yet explored. In 2021, make it your mission to tick them off. 

Keep It Sustainable

While many popular tourist spots got a well-deserved break and chance to recharge during lockdown, it doesn’t mean that in 2021 we want to go and overpopulate them again. In the new year, we’ll be putting the planet first. That means choosing to offset your carbon emissions on flights, trying out greener forms of travel and checking into eco-friendly accommodation. Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up Australia’s most beautiful and sustainable retreats here

Go Off The Grid

While it’s oh-so tempting to splash your epic holiday pics all over the Gram (especially after a distinct lack of content this year) in 2021, it’s time to unplug and soak up your surroundings—sans phone in your hand. The rise of tiny cabins (see our faves here), like Unyoked, In2thewild and CABN, which are located in rural locations, allow wanderlust-seekers to get back to basics, enjoy nature and just generally slow down and breathe in that fresh air. If you’re after some top spots, check out these amazing walks and national parks around Australia. 

a woman sits out on a rock ledge, mountains and greenery below her.


When devastating bushfires wiped out entire towns around Australia—many of them popular tourist spots—loads of small businesses lost their entire year’s income. In 2021, Aussies will have the chance to give back with ‘philantourism’, a term coined by travel experts where travellers choose a holiday in order to support the destination. Go with an empty esky and fill it to the brim with local produce, shop in the boutiques and book in an activity or two with local tour operators.


2020 was the year that most of us learnt the joys of working remotely—like not having to wear pants. In the new year, we’ll be looking to combine remote working with a side of holiday. With Zoom the new meeting room, you really can work from anywhere. Expect longer trips away, where workers can clock in those work hours and then disconnect, relax and explore their new destination after hours. You know you’re winning at life when the work commute involves moving from the sun lounger to the balcony. Not sure where to start? Check out Australia’s most stunning islands here.

Next, it's time to catch a wave at Australia's best surf beaches

Image Credit: Manuel Meurisse, John Crux Photography, Tourism NT

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