How Airbnb Predicts Remote Work Will Impact Travel in 2021

The pandemic has limited how we can travel, but Airbnb’s latest report shows that Americans haven’t lost their wanderlust.

airbnb app on smartphone

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COVID-19 has drastically impacted the travel industry in 2020, and while a vaccine may be on the horizon, travel will still inevitably be different in 2021. Vacation rental company Airbnb commissioned a survey and analyzed search and booking trends on their site to predict how Americans will be traveling next year. The survey, which involved 1,010 U.S. residents and was completed in September, provides insight into how the pandemic has changed (and will continue to change) the way we work, live, and travel.

Safe Travel

The coronavirus pandemic is, of course, top of mind for travelers right now. People are looking for a clean, private place to stay, and would likely feel more secure in a single-family dwelling than in a bustling hotel. In fact, according to the CDC, renting an entire home or cottage with the people you live with is actually safer than staying in a hotel.

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Work From Anywhere

Because so many people are now working remotely, the line between work and home is blurring. Airbnb found that 83 percent of respondents would consider relocating while they work remotely in 2021. More than half of parents with school-age children said they would consider relocating while their children were attending school from home. Of all the age groups, predictably, Gen Z’ers and young millennials were the most likely to respond that they thought they’d be working or studying from a new location in 2021.

Airbnb’s research also showed that people have been planning lengthier trips of two weeks or more. Many Airbnb hosts are responding to this trend by dropping prices for extended stays to encourage bookings.

woman working remotely from Airbnb

Photo: istockphoto.com

Try Before You Buy

Because of the freedom to work remotely, some individuals and families are opting to spend time in a short term rental in a new neighborhood or city to try it out before they commit to moving there. Airbnb noticed a 128 percent increase from last year in searches involving terms like “relocation,” “remote work,” and “trying a new neighborhood.”

The Rise of Pod Travel

Connecting with loved ones has been more difficult than ever in 2020 because of travel restrictions and coronavirus transmission concerns, so many Americans are looking for ways to safely see their friends and family members. Of the survey respondents, 85 percent said that they would favor relocating temporarily or permanently to be closer to family. Airbnb also noticed an increase in bookings for three or more people, showing that guests may be planning to travel in pods in 2021.

airbnb pod travel

Photo: airbnb.com

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Escape to Nature

While the 2019 top destinations for U.S. travelers included Paris, London, and Rome, Americans will be seeking adventure closer to home next year. Sixty-two percent of respondents said in 2021 they would prefer to travel to locations within driving distance of their homes.

Areas near national parks, beaches, and ski resorts are becoming increasingly popular, with places like Palm Springs, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Breckenridge, Colorado, topping the list.

The trending locations for 2021 also include a number of small to mid-size cities that have easy access to natural landscapes. In a sharp reversal from previous years, cities like Santa Fe, New Mexico, Park City, Utah, and Truckee, California, have become some of the hottest spots to book.

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Unique Travel Experiences

Even though they aren’t traveling far from home, many people are still looking for novel experiences. Airbnb reported an uptick in bookings for treehouses, yurts, barns, domes, and cycladic houses for 2021. These one-of-a-kind spaces are often eco-friendly—making for a sustainable and unforgettable stay.

All these trends show that while travel may look a little different in 2021, Americans are still finding ways to fulfill their wanderlust.