If you’re traveling to Pitkin County, Colorado, the home of Aspen Snowmass, travelers must complete an online document acknowledging the CDC’s travel recommendations and local requirements.

After a year of pandemic precautions, travelers are used to requirements like Pitkin County’s. It’s one of the many modifications the coronavirus has made routine for travel. According to the April 2021 Global Rescue Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey, travelers are modifying their trip plans in a number of ways:

  • 54% indicated they would avoid crowded destinations
  • 26% will only travel domestically
  • 24% will take longer trips
  • 19% will only travel to places with modern medical facilities

Avoiding Crowds

The avoidance of super spreading locations and events is top of mind for many travelers.

Kirsten Peterson of Peterson Travel Group in Chicago finds guests are seeking private experiences such as smaller hotels, villas and cities, as well as remote locations away from crowds. She says customization is key, as everyone has varying degrees of comfort while traveling.

To increase safety, small group trips and private trips are frequently combined with a remote location. Kanna Travel Services, a full-service travel agency in Bozeman, Montana that specializes in trip logistics for adventure and sports travel and a Global Rescue Safe Travel partner, notes a trend of smaller, more intimate travel groups.

“We are seeing family groups and small groups booking out ranch or ski lodge destinations where they can still get out exploring while responsibly keeping in their own small group,” said travel specialist Kimberly Franke.

Domestic Travel First

While international travel requirements change frequently across the globe, many travelers will test the waters with domestic travel first. It’s a good way to stay safe during the pandemic by selecting destinations with plenty of wide-open spaces and fresh air.

Kanna Travel has fielded requests for Montana’s luxury ranch, The Ranch at Rock Creek, which is a 19th century homestead located on 6,600 acres. Visitors can participate in twice-daily ranch activities such as fly fishing, hiking, horseback riding and rides with a rancher.

Alice Howell, vice president of Stoke Broker, a travel company cultivating unique and impactful adventures around the globe, describes a popular white water rafting trip in Idaho.

“There’s substantial interest in private white water rafting trips on remote rivers such as Middle Fork of the Salmon River,” Howell said. “River trips are transformative. You get into pristine wilderness, out of cell phone range and you connect with the people you are with and the nature around you.”

Longer Trips

A week of vacation was the norm before the pandemic. Now, with pandemic protocols requiring self-isolation or quarantine for a specific number of days, long-stay vacations have increased in popularity.

Long stay vacations, also called extended stay vacations, range anywhere from 18 days to several months. With an average of 28 days, there is plenty of time to comply with any quarantine or isolation requirements for travel.

Destinations with Modern Medical Facilities

In the United States, it is easy to find a coronavirus testing facility online or by calling the state’s health department. It’s not as simple if you’re in Africa, there are a limited number of testing facilities.

Or perhaps you are visiting a developing country with a universal health care program for those living below the poverty level. The hospital may be crowded, with one doctor for every 1,700 people compared to three for every 1,000 Americans.

Today’s travelers are choosing locations vetted for high standards of medical care. One component of selecting a travel destination might include making sure the facility aligns with a U.S. Level 1 hospital, which offers a 24-hour emergency department, trauma and surgical services as well as Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation.

Travel Protection Services

The coronavirus pandemic, with unexpected changes happening quickly, highlighted the necessity of travel protection services. Now, when the unexpected happens during travel, travelers want a team of travel intelligence, medical and security experts help from the point of emergency — regardless of destination.

The survey found 49% of respondents would travel with medical evacuation services from the point of illness or injury and 21% wouldn’t leave home without Cancel For Any Reason trip insurance.

Daniel Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, told participants at World Travels & Tourism Council’s 2021 Global Summit he believes the travel industry needs to remove fear and uncertainty to ease the traveler’s mindset.

“If we can do those things, I can guarantee that demand will come surging back,” Richards said.

Other Traveler Modifications

When it comes to travel, each person and each situation is unique. Survey respondents also included their own travel modifications in the comments section of the annual survey:

  • travel privately (or fly privately)
  • avoid COVID-19 hot spots
  • travel to destinations with the least restrictive COVID-19 requirements
  • travel if it is absolutely required or a family emergency
  • take fewer trips, eliminating unnecessary trips
  • avoid long flights
  • only travel within 300 miles of home

The spring 2021 Traveler Sentiment and Safety survey was conducted April 21-26, 2021. Results reflect responses from 1,700 current and former members.