Well, the vaccines are here, and so for the first time in a year, we finally have a clearer vision of the road map to the future.
We know that as long as significant chunks of the population are still waiting for their shots, the world won't fully open for normal travel. And we also know that it won't be until next winter or later, according to most predictions, that we can fly internationally the way we used to.
So although it's only January, we already have a good idea of what our July will look like. And in the northern hemisphere, we'll still be looking for vacations closer to home during the summer of 2021.
Because everyone will be road tripping or staying domestic, that will put a lot of pressure on availability. So it behooves you to lock down your summer travel reservations while you can.
Campervans and RVs. In 2020, interest in RV vacations jumped 1,000% over the prior year. That trend will continue in 2021, so if you intend to travel this way, secure your rental now.
National park lodges. Even in a normal year, you have to book these far ahead. As more of us venture into our public lands in 2021, securing your spot should happen as early as possible—like, yesterday.
Campgrounds. Expect another huge year for camping, which means more stress on limited plot availability. Get your bookings in ASAP, because you won't be alone in seeking space.
Home rentals. Airbnb, Vrbo, and the like are already seeing increased demand from people in search of roomier lodgings. Interest in home rentals will continue to be strong in 2021.
Rental cars. It's always smart to secure a reservation ahead of time. It costs nothing to do so.
Hotels. Because cancellation policies in this industry tend to be liberal, it's less important to book hotel rooms far ahead unless there's a property you have your heart set on (like a national park lodge).
Airlines. Until the virus is eradicated, driving yourself will still be the preferred way to go. And like hotels, airlines are hungry for business this year, so prices remain good and it's less crucial to buy tickets early. But if you do, make sure the cancellation policy lets you off the hook easily if your plans change.
In fact, make sure the cancellation policies for whatever you reserve will allow you to change your plans without penalty. Nobody knows what 2021 will bring—maybe normal travel will become more possible than we expect, or maybe you'll run across a travel deal that you simply can't pass up once you've made reservations for something else.