After a year of being grounded, what can travellers look forward to in their 2021 Australian holidays. Teresa Ooi reports.
Bubbles. Vaccines. Dining in tents and check-in apps. The travel world has undergone big changes. But is it enough to get us back to our intrepid, travelling selves in 2021?
State border restrictions have eased and there is every reason to celebrate this festive season. It is important to be optimistic, but we should approach travel in 2021 with the now-familiar "abundance of caution". Indeed, one trend is the desire to get away from crowds and find undiscovered places.
"We can see Australians are feeling confident and ready to travel again, but mostly close to home," said Travel Associates travel adviser Ann-Catherine Jones.
"A lot of the best holidays (particularly the luxury kind) are selling out very quickly for 2021."
The New Year promises to be far more exciting now our travel wings are no longer clipped - we are able to fly again, at least domestically. Here we reveal Australia's top travel trends for 2021.
In the great outdoors, social-distancing is no longer an issue. For a real Aussie camping experience and a great holiday, head to the bush and look for some wide-open space to pitch your tent.
It's the return of the spartan holiday, and environmentally conscious travellers pack only essential gear, travel-hardy clothes and vegan-friendly food.
True minimalists prefer the unpowered campsites at Lake Argyle in WA's Kimberley or the secluded bush sites of the NT's Outback. In NSW, the coastal campgrounds at Wooli near Yamba and Honeymoon Bay near Jervis Bay are favourites.
WFH becomes work from holiday
With the shift in 2020 to work from home (WFH), this summer there will be a rise in the number of people swapping their home offices for seaside offices. So, don't be surprised if that family occupying the villa by the pool are actually WFH. Look out for resorts which offer long-stay work/play packages.
Travelling by road has become de rigueur as domestic holidays continue to take off. Not only that, travelling in a glamped-up campervan will be the order of the day as having your own hotel on wheels will offer the best security - from its social-distancing advantages to the freedom of your itinerary.
The new campervans are next-level and come with all the comforts of your own home including a Nespresso coffee machine, a proper double bed, a fully equipped kitchen and air-conditioning - so important in Australia's summer.
My own private island
If money is not an issue, then take a leaf out of Kim Kardashian's book. She recently celebrated her 40th birthday by booking out the Brando private island resort in French Polynesia.
Closer to home, indulge in barefoot luxury at Haggerstone Island in Australia's far north, about 600 kilometres from Cairns. The island is on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef and you can hire Haggerstone exclusively for 12 friends or family members from $6800 per night. A snip.
Flights to nowhere
After this year's lockdowns, some people can't wait to get on a plane to enjoy the pleasures of flying again. But "there's still hesitancy about booking international holidays until key announcements are made on when this is possible and a vaccine is ready", said Ms Jones.
Instead pleasure flights have become a thing, with Qantas recently offering a seven-hour "pleasure flight" from Sydney that took in the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Byron Bay. The scenic flight, called the Great Southern Land, was on a Qantas B787 Dreamliner which has the biggest windows of any passenger aircraft.
The appeal of agritourism
Health-conscious travellers are making a beeline for farmstays where they can eat and learn where their meal comes from. Next year will see the continuing rise of the farm-to-fork movement. From hilltop tents to stays in the old horse stables, farmstays offer unique holiday experiences.
In NSW, the eco-friendly Crystal Creek Meadows has four private cottages on an organic farm in Kangaroo Valley. The farm's owners deliver you a breakfast hamper with free-range eggs, home-baked scones and herbal teas. You can also pick organic fruit and herbs straight from the gardens.
After being cooped up for so long, well-heeled travellers of tomorrow will want to escape the worries of the pandemic by booking hedonistic hideaways for family and friends. As money is not an issue, they are prepared to pay top dollar for a luxury experience and the exclusive use of spacious seaside cottages, plush private homes and country retreats in Australia's bush reserves.
Charter air tours
The pandemic has convinced many wealthy travellers to consider private-air-charter holidays. They want to travel with like-minded fellow Australians and avoid boarding a plane with strangers.
Captain's Choice has a two-day interlude taking only 48 passengers by private plane from Brisbane, visiting Broken Hill, Coober Pedy, Lake Eyre and Birdsville. The weekend charter will be accompanied by two doctors and a tour manager who will take care of all the travel, tour and hotel arrangements.
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