Felicity Long
Felicity Long

Admittedly, 2021 is off to a rocky start, but for travelers champing at the bit to resume transatlantic travel, there is plenty to be optimistic about. 

The term "revenge travel" is starting to trend in the industry, referring to the projected boom travel sellers expect to see once the pandemic is safely behind us and border restrictions are lifted. The term refers to the notion that people whose travel plans in 2020 were canceled or delayed will take to the skies with a vengeance once they can.

In fact, revenge travel is one of several emerging trends Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), which specializes in customized small-group travel for Americans age 50 and older, is seeing on the horizon for 2021 and beyond.

OAT is part of Boston-based Grand Circle Corp.'s group of travel companies, which also include Grand Circle Cruise Line and Grand Circle Travel. Although the company does not work with travel advisors, their research signals good news for the entire industry.

"We can now see the light as travel begins to open up in the wake of the vaccine," said Mark C. Frevert, chief architect and chief relationship officer at OAT. "Many travelers are eagerly awaiting the chance to travel again, with some notable differences in how they'll travel compared to prior years."

Solo travelers, in particular, are fueling the revenge travel trend, according to a recent Solo Traveler survey, conducted in conjunction with OAT. Nearly half of the 3,000 survey respondents reported an intention to travel even more in the post-Covid future than they had previously.

Speaking of solo travel, women traveling on their own will be another important trend to watch out for, with 50% of OAT travelers -- or more than 30,000 bookings -- falling into this category so far for 2021 and 2022. Contrast these numbers with 2010, when only 27% of travelers were solo women.

As to how Europe fits into this, OAT is already seeing that Europe is poised to recover after travel resumes but probably before more far-flung international destinations.

Grand Circle Corp. has 51,000 travelers booked for travel in the year ahead, of whom nearly 60% are headed to Europe.

In addition, in the Solo Traveler survey, 40% of respondents favored Europe and the U.K. as desired destinations following the pandemic.

While Europe has always had strong appeal for travelers from North America, its relative proximity and familiarity are likely to add to these robust numbers.

Purposeful travel, another new term referring to a desire on the part of travelers for authentic experiences abroad, is another predicted trend. The radical upheavals in our lifestyles brought on by the pandemic and the introspection that ensued for many of us are expected to strengthen this trend, which had already been gaining traction in the past few years.

Opportunities to visit schools and support local communities, some of which OAT offers via the Grand Circle Foundation -- which supports communities in which Grand Circle works and travels -- are expected to be high on travelers' wish lists.

Slow travel, vacations that travelers can experience at their own pace, is another trend that OAT predicts will gain in popularity in the post-pandemic world. After all, most of us aren't rushing around these days, and the slower pace, while tough to adjust to, has its rewards and may be just as hard to shed going forward.

Even once it is safe to travel again, some of us may still be skittish about joining large groups or being in crowds -- at least for a while. With that in mind, private adventures, once only the province of the well-heeled, are expected to become more mainstream.

Families and friends -- many of whom have been separated from each other for long stretches because of the pandemic -- are exploring private tours for themselves and their loved ones.

This story was updated on Jan. 21 to note that Grand Circle does not work with travel advisors.


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