PHOTO: Aerial view of Rose Hall Villas at Half Moon. (Photo via Half Moon)
The era of COVID-19 has not stopped people from traveling. While there is definitely an increased pent up demand to get out and explore, and there are many choosing not to travel at all, the reality of today is that Americans are finding new ways to travel. At the recent virtual Virtuoso travel week, advisors revealed some obvious trips as well as some unique ways their clients are booking and taking vacations. The way most people have been traveling this summer is via the road trip, which is certainly not unique and should come as no surprise. However, the new trend of multi-family travel was one that stuck out for me. Like-minded families are forming “travel pods” and vacationing together. In 2019, there was quite a surge in multi-generational travel. Grandparents traveling with their children and grandchildren, and even traveling with just their grandchildren at times. With the concerns around the elderly catching the coronavirus, advisors are seeing younger families vacation with their friends instead. Perhaps they’re renting large villas and staying in one place together, or simply traveling to the same destination. We do know that villa rentals are soaring, as noted in a recent feature from colleague Theresa Norton. Luxury villa rental company Villas of Distinction told Norton that U.S. bookings are up 40 percent this year. By staying in larger accommodations such as a villa, travelers are avoiding other people they might come in contact with at a hotel. Staying away from crowds is key in the midst of a global pandemic. Another interesting trend in travel is the rise of private air travel. Air Charter service reported a 75% increase in the early summer months. The easiest way to be a socially distant traveler is by not being around other people, which is quite the challenge when flying commercial airlines, especially when some companies aren’t blocking middle seats anymore. Flying private decreases the chances of catching any illness simply because you limit the number of people you interact with while on the move. And we know that luxury travelers are the most likely to travel right now since they can afford the cost that is attached to private jets. The contactless travel experience is becoming a new trend in the era of COVID-19, which has paved the way for private jets and secluded villas to become even more popular in the travel industry.