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Travel looks a lot different right now. My state, Vermont, is fairly shut down to travelers, and COVID numbers are up. We're trying to stay safe, but also dreaming of travel once a vaccine is available. I can on family travel trends form the year -- it was all about the road trip. I connected with the folks at Vrbo to talk about where we as a nation went this year and how we are planning to travel in 2021.

Related: Prepare your car for winter

Family Travel Trends the Year of the Road Trip

Where We Went This Year

It was all about the great outdoors. According to the Vrbo survey, 61% of U.S. families said they are more likely to visit an outdoorsy destination than an urban one. Vrbo used a consumer survey and booking data to gather these trends. 

Vrbo’s top emerging destinations are all places where families can fish, camp and hike. Makes sense since so many of us have been staring at screens. It makes sense that we need a break to get some fresh air.

Lakes, rivers and streams reign supreme. Vrbo demand data reveals an uptick in destinations near lakes and rivers across the south, midwest and eastern regions of the U.S. 

Top Five Destinations

  1. Emory, Texas – A place between two lakes filled with largemouth bass – also home to a small but mighty attraction, the A.C. McMillan African American Museum.
  2. Smithville, Mo
  3. Slade, Ky. – Home to Red River Gorge, a hot spot for hiking, climbing and water sports – also close to Mammoth Cave National Park, rich with the history and stories of African American cave explorers who helped lay out the hundreds of miles of cave systems that make up the park.
  4. Outer Banks, N.C. – A scenic coastal destination with flora and fauna aplenty.
  5. Mannford, Ok

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And it was all about the road trip. This trend isn't going anywhere. 59% of families say they are more likely to drive instead of fly on their next trip. So make sure the car is in good shape for spring break.

Trend Alert the Flexcation

The Vrbo Trend Report shared findings on vacation planning. One trend that surfaced was that many of us mixed work and play this year. Vrbo called it the Flexcation. Kids were distance learning while parents were remote working. 52% of travelers who took a Flexcation this year found the experience refreshing and 67% said they would do it again.

Looking towards 2021

Many of us are looking at bucket list travel items. I'm planning to take that Alaska trip that was cancelled and I'm not alone. Countless families canceled vacations in 2020, so they are willing to pull out all the stops when travel returns to normal.

  • 65% of travelers plan on traveling more than they did pre-COVID 
  • 33% are willing to spend more than they traditionally would.
  • 54% say they are more likely to take their bucket list trip.
Family Travel Trends the Year of the Road Trip

Families still want to get together and spend time with one another. Eight out of ten families (82%) are already making plans for 2021. I'm definitely in on this trend. A safe option, we're noticing, is instead of cousins maybe staying at a hotel or grandma and grandpa staying nearby, people are renting homes big enough for everyone to stay in and feel safe in. 

Read more about the 2021 Vrbo Trend Report here, and download the full report here.


  1. Where to eat in the Mad River Valley of Vermont
  2. We love the Trapp Family Lodge for cross country skiing
  3. Seven ways to prepare your family for ski season during COVID


Use Pinterest to save your favorite family travel destinations to help inspire your next trip. Be sure to follow our Travel with Kids board here.

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