The seven trends shaping family travel for 2021

What sort of journeys will your family be setting off on this year? We look at the latest trends, from virtual tours to private cruises.

By Maria Pieri
Published 4 Jan 2021, 08:05 GMT
Self-catering stays are expected to be a popular choice for families travelling in 2021, with the ...

Self-catering stays are expected to be a popular choice for families travelling in 2021, with the need to stay in social bubble likely to continue.

Photograph by Getty Images

On the road

Hitting the road in your own caravan or motorhome might be an option — and you’ll be in fine company, too, as last summer, many campsites were reported ‘sold out’ by the Caravan and Motorhome Club. New openings from its Experience Freedom brand means it’s not just caravans that are up for grabs, with glamping options available for members and non-members alike. Airstream caravans, yurts and camping and glamping pods are on offer at a range of sites, including in the Cotswolds, the Lake District and Kent. 

Wild & remote

If you’ve rediscovered your love of camping in the past year, you’re not alone. Camping specialist confirmed a 337% increase year-on-year for 2021 bookings, with camping hotspots filling up in record time. Plan your trip ahead and go off-grid in the likes of Shropshire’s Wrekin Forest for a back-to-nature experience and woodland walks on your doorstep. Alternatively, pitch up in the grounds of Somerset’s award-winning Earth Spirit Centre, on the edge of Compton Dundon, for a tranquil rural retreat. For family-friendly excursions, mystical Glastonbury and the Wookey Hole caves are around a 20-minute drive away. 

Virtual escapes

During the UK’s first lockdown, Original Travel partnered with Oppidan Education to create online learning modules based on 10 of its destinations, including Rome, Botswana and Japan. The interactive workshops help to feed children’s curiosity until they can visit in real life and are perfect for families not quite ready to hop on a plane to distant shores. Google’s Arts and Culture platform also offers a range of fun, virtual tours and experiences, such as building your own space station and discovering UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Sail away

Escape the crowds in your very own narrowboat for around £760 a week for up to four people, or from around £540 for a three- to four-night break, including tuition, with Drifters Waterway Holidays. The operator has more than 550 boats for hire from 45 locations across England, Scotland and Wales, but a particular highlight is coasting along the River Thames through the peaceful Cotswold countryside. Rent a boat in Oxford and cruise westwards to the chocolate-box market town of Lechlade. The four-night break takes in 22 miles of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire scenery, with plenty of opportunities to moor up and explore. Don’t miss Kelmscott Manor, once the country retreat of designer William Morris. 

Stay in your bubble

Cottages, barns, villas, tents, retreats… self-catering holidays with the family (or support bubble) are likely to continue as a stable trend for 2021. Mulberry Cottages’ pet-friendly Sidown Barn in Hampshire is a roomy, newly built property that sleeps up to four, with a fresh, period-meets-contemporary design and sweeping views across the downs. A week in February or March starts at £890.  Further afield, Oliver’s Travels’ range of villas in mainland Spain and the Canary Islands will no doubt return as firm family favourites in the months to come.   

Take it easy

Immerse yourself in your surroundings and support local communities with Intrepid Travel’s new range of closer-to-home retreats. Best suited to families with older kids and teenagers, the trips are designed to help places striving to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic. Intrepid Retreats’ offerings include a four-day Cornwall experience from £505 per person and a five-day break in Syros, Greece from £780 per person (excluding flights). 

Adventure on your doorstep

Luxury tour operator Kuoni has partnered with McKinlay Kidd to offer its first range of UK and Ireland trips — and the eight-night Wild Atlantic Way Food Trail self-drive journey is a major highlight. The tour takes in epic coastal landscapes and the best of Ireland’s cuisine, with a food-focused walking tour through the vibrant fishing village of Kinsale and a seaweed foraging adventure in County Kerry. Stay in hand-picked accommodation, from family-run guest houses to a tower house hotel just steps from the shore. From £1,220 per person from May to September (based on two sharing). 

Published in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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