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  • Writer's pictureImogen Hall

5 reasons to be cheerful about family travel in 2021

No-one needs it spelling out that 2020 did not deliver on the travel front. For a significant part of the year borders were shut and only very essential travel was allowed, and since then we’ve dealt with an ever-changing list of restrictions and quarantine rules which make it hard to plan.

A good example of the trials and tribulations of the travel landscape in 2020 is that when we booked a spontaneous trip to Venice and Vienna in August. We had no real reason to doubt that our long-planned reward trip for our son’s entrance exams to the Lego House in Billund in October half-term would go ahead. At that point Denmark was reopening schools and was hailed as one of Europe’s COVID success stories. Fast-forward one month and Denmark is on the quarantine list, then it comes off but the Danes keep us on theirs and then a couple of weeks later we have the famous mink-related outbreak. No-one was going anywhere near Denmark this autumn.

Thankfully it might not be an immediate improvement things are looking up on the travel front and here’s why I think we can be optimistic about travelling with our kids again in 2021:

The long-awaited vaccine

While we know Covid-19 is not going to disappear from our lives, the now regular news bulletins on the various vaccines in the pipeline and the aggressive timeframes for mass vaccination being shared with the media allow us to hope that some normality will return to our worlds at some point in 2021. The fact that we now have a tool which enables us to exert a little more control over this virus allows us to feel more confident that we will be able to do all the things we have missed this year, including hug our parents, assemble in bigger groups and, yes, travel. And let’s not forget that the vaccine itself may well prove to be an essential part of our modus operandi when it comes to travel in the future. There are indeed many reasons to be cheerful about this vaccine.

The travel landscape is changing to be more sustainable, inclusive and local

People talk about 2020 being a year to reset, covering everything from what you have learnt about yourself in lockdown to the global approach to the environmental challenges we face. The same applies to travel. The emphasis was already shifting (slowly) towards sustainable tourism practices and a more inclusive approach from major operators, travel guides and the media but the conversation has dialled up a notch this year. The tragic death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement has rightly finally put diversity and inclusion at the top of agendas, a sustainable approach to travel just makes sense in a world that has been so battered and bruised this year and let’s face it we’ve all had to make the most of ‘local’ in an unprecedented way.

We are SO going to appreciate being able to travel

When you’ve not been able to do something you really love, it’s all the sweeter when you come to finally do it again. Our very spontaneous trip to Venice this summer was amazing in a number of ways (no crowds, no cruise ships) but the defining moment was arriving via water taxi at the end of a beautiful day and feeling a frankly intense rush of gratitude that in a year when travel has been turned on its side we were away with our kids in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. We cried. The children look bemused. It reminded us how much we value the perspective you get from visiting somewhere really different, how thought-provoking and interesting it is, and how much we can never take for granted that we can travel. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and those trips we can finally take in 2021 will be all the better for having to wait.

It’s a chance to change our travel mindset

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to be flexible. With all those travel plans which had to change we learnt to pivot, adapt and move our minds onto something new. In some cases we learnt to be more spontaneous in order to take advantage of a situation, in others we explored more of the area on our doorstep or took an unplanned staycation to a previously unvisited corner of the British Isles. We’ve also had to evaluate risk, taking on board official restrictions, public health advice and other people’s opinions to decide what we want to do with our families. Moving into 2021 is a chance to have a fresh mindset when it comes to our travelling: we can be more flexible, be better risk takers, give more back, stay longer (there have to be some benefits from lockdown and proven remote working is definitely one).

Lockdown taught us how to live our best travel life

If we can afford to travel with our kids, we are lucky. But that doesn’t mean that the adjustment from normal life with everyone getting their own space in school, nursery or their work to holiday life where you are suddenly with each other 24/7 isn’t a challenge. Thankfully months of lockdown has given us the best lesson in how to survive being with each other constantly. So when we travel in 2021 we just need to channel the lessons we learnt when we couldn’t leave our homes except for essential exercise. For some families that’s plenty of technology time, for others it is a daily plan and a rigid structure, others still it’s about preparing meals and enjoying a glass of wine. Whatever worked for your family, take it with you next time you travel.

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