Airbnb revealed new trends for travel in 2021 and the destinations where travelers want to go most — here's what to know and where to stay

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  • Airbnb surveyed 1,010 U.S. adults to identify top travel trends that have emerged as a result of the pandemic that will redefine travel in 2021.
  • In 2021, travel will focus on domestic locations that promote living, working, and connecting away from home, safely. 
  • Key themes include booking homes that allow you to live anywhere, redefine the staycation, encourage pod travel, and inspire future trip planning.
  • Locations for these trends crisscross the US, from California to the Smoky Mountains, Florida to New England.
  • We break down each trend below, and also included a top-rated place to stay in each trending location.

The novel coronavirus has dramatically changed travel in 2020 and looking ahead, it's clear those impacts will be felt well into 2021.

And in the new year, travel will be less about traditional tourism and more focused on living, working, and connecting while away from home — safely.

That's according to new data from Airbnb, which surveyed 1,010 U.S. adults between September 15 and 19, 2020, and discovered several trends that have emerged from our new pandemic lifestyle.

According to findings from study participants, remote work and schooling have altered traditional vacation periods, and even blur the line between traveling and meeting the everyday commitments of life.

Domestic travel also continues to be favored over far-flung, international destinations, and travelers continue to prize cleanliness and safety more than ever, which in turn drives business to private rentals where contact with other people is minimal. Indeed, doctors say that private vacation rentals are generally a low-risk form of travel, especially compared with hotels.

And finally, so-called "pod travel," or, gathering in an isolated space with loved ones, continues to rise in popularity.

Below, we break down each of these four trends, plus the U.S. locations where Airbnb predicts they'll be the most popular in 2021.

And since we know you'll want to get a head start on booking these desirable destinations, we also pulled top-rated Airbnbs in each spot, determined based on the following criteria:

  1. We selected Airbnb listings with pristine ratings that come as close to a perfect five stars as possible.
  2. Listings are for the entire home, or units with private entrances, to encourage safe social distancing.
  3. We looked for Superhost status and an Enhanced Clean badge where available to ensure your safety, health, and wellness are prioritized.
  4. We also selected unique and isolated stays, in trending lodging styles, in line with Airbnb's new data.

Just remember, without a vaccine, it's nearly impossible to guarantee any place other than your home is safe. The pandemic is an evolving situation and it's crucial to follow guidelines set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures, no matter where you go, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing. Additionally, consider quarantine mandates for your destination, as well as your own level of risk, and whether you're traveling from or to a hotspot, so as not to increase the rate of infection.

These are the top trends for travel and places to go on Airbnb in 2021.

2021 Travel Trend No. 1: Live anywhere

With work and school going remote for many people, 83 percent of respondents said they're in favor of relocating as part of remote working. A fourth of respondents believe they will be able to "live where they want and work remotely" in the coming year. A fifth said they've already relocated their living situation during the pandemic — whether temporarily or permanently.

For parents, 60 percent said they're very or somewhat likely to consider working remotely and traveling with kids if school is disrupted.

The survey found that travelers are turning to Airbnb to try new locations before committing to more permanent moves. From July to September, there was a 128 percent increase in guest reviews mentioning terms such as "relocation" or "trying a new neighborhood" compared with the same period last year.

Of people who relocated during the pandemic, 24 percent say they moved to a suburb and 21 percent to a rural area, both of which are greater percentages than those who went to larger cities. 

On Airbnb, people who have the opportunity to work from anywhere are actively booking longer stays (2+ week trips) in small-to-mid-size cities with access to natural surroundings and wide open spaces, including these trending destinations below. 

These are the most popular places in the US on Airbnb among those who have the opportunity to work anywhere. 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Book this private room in a B&B starting at $49 per night

This listing goes by "El Nido," which is Spanish for "The Nest." Located just outside Santa Fe and 15 minted from historic Santa Fe Plaza, the property is surrounded by tranquil nature and mountain views. Expect stunning sunsets and starlit skies.

El Nido can host two guests in their own private wing of the home. Access includes three outdoor spaces, including two covered porches. Reviewers give it a perfect 5.0 score for cleanliness.

Rating: 4.98

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Santa Fe.

Boise, Idaho

Book this private sunset studio starting at $60 per night

This studio apartment in the Sunset area of Boise's north end has room for three with one bedroom and one bath. The area is marked by charming old homes and tree-lined streets, with easy access to downtown.

The studio has a private entrance and guests and their pets also have access to a private and fenced English garden set under a large old maple tree. Outdoor seating is available in warmer months and this popular listing gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness score.

Rating: 4.99

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Boise.

Durham, North Carolina

Book this spacious wooded retreat starting at $60 per night

This listing is located on a three-and-a-half-acre wooded lot within a peaceful forest setting, less than 10 minutes from the UNC campus and downtown Chapel Hill. The quiet and private apartment is 1,300 square feet and comes with easy keyless self-check-in, which is available 24 hours a day.

The bedroom has a walk-in closet, large smart TV with Netflix and Hulu, plus a DVD player with movies for kids and grownups. The King-size bed has hypoallergenic bedding and six pillows. In the closet is a Queen-size air mattress bed, and there is also a tent for guests who want to camp outside. The living and dining space has a couch that folds out into a double bed. There's also a kitchenette with extras like coffee, hot chocolate, and popcorn included.

Perhaps the real highlight, however, is the private outdoor patio surrounded by oak, pine, cedar, and poplar trees. The backyard has picnic tables, a swing, slide, fire pit — and even a zip line.

Rating: 4.91

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Durham.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Book this carriage house starting at $62 per night

This 1,200 square-foot apartment overlooks a pond that includes turtles, carp, ducks, and geese. Such a bucolic setting really makes it feel like a peaceful country getaway. And guests give it a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating.

There are two bedrooms, each with Queen beds, and the living area has a pullout sleeper sofa with a Queen-sized memory foam mattress. There's also a full kitchen, washer and dryer, a smart TV, and parking for one car.

Rating: 4.98

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Indianapolis.

Park City, Utah

Book this woodside treehouse starting at $85 per night

Access more than 300 miles of biking and hiking trails right from the front door of this listing, with easy access to Main Street for apres-ski fun. There's a hot tub to relax your muscles after a day on the slopes, and a stocked kitchen (but no oven) to safely cook at home.

Guests here have their own apartment, with a private entrance and assigned off-street parking. This listing is best for couples or solo travelers, but the host can set up bedding for a third guest on the sofa in the living area. This place gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating, with recent guests calling it sparkling clean.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional Park City listings.

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Book this beachwalk cottage starting at $99 per night

This loft-style townhouse is located next to Blue Dolphin Beach Walk at Beach Access 1 on Okaloosa Island. Newly renovated, the listing provides large and comfortable lodging just a short walk from white sand beaches.

The large master bedroom upstairs has a King-size bed and en suite bath with double vanities. There's also a new Queen sleeper sofa in the living room downstairs, and an additional twin air mattress available.

The private balcony upstairs offers peaceful views of the island, while back inside, there's seating for four at the breakfast counter. Other amenities include smart flatscreen TVs on each floor, a fully equipped kitchen, a washer-dryer, walk-in closets, a private fenced patio with seating, an outdoor shower, and an additional half bathroom downstairs.

Rating: 5.0

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Fort Walton Beach.

Richmond, Virginia

Book this chic downtown apartment starting at $108 per night

Located in Richmond's downtown Arts District, this chic, renovated brownstone apartment that dates back to the 1800s feels airy even before you consider the private rooftop deck. It has one parking space, can sleep four, and pets are permitted.

From this launch pad, walk to many attractions and cultural experiences, including Altria Theater, Quirk Hotel, the Jefferson Hotel, First Friday Art Walk, and more.

The space comes with plush linens and towels, as well as shampoo and conditioner (the host owns a salon downstairs). It also comes with coffee, tea, sparkling waters, and snacks, and the host can make special accommodations for dairy-free and gluten-free diets, too.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Richmond.

Greenville, South Carolina

Book this luxury condo with a balcony starting at $149 per night

This listing gets you right into the downtown experience: The Main Street-facing property has a large balcony with sofas for lounging and soaking in the environment, which was remodeled in 2019, and includes brand new furnishings. It gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness score.

The studio unit has a completely open floor plan for contemporary loving. The bedroom area has a King-sized bed decked out with luxury bedding, while two additional guests (for a total of four) can sleep on the Queen-size sleeper sofa.

Rating: 4.99

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Greenville.

Truckee, California

Book this mountain home starting at $151 per night

This cabin accommodates eight guests with a relaxing fireplace and view of the forest. From here, it's a short walk to the Trout Creek recreation center, which has pools, spas, fitness, and sports facilities all year long, a local store, as well as the Lodge bar and restaurant. Guests can also use the equestrian center and the private Donner Lake beach.

Included are shower amenities, Nespresso coffee, soft bedding and towels, Wi-Fi, and two smart TVs with cable. For guests traveling with kids, there's a pack-and-play and an umbrella stroller included. The kitchen is also equipped with the basics, and there's a barbecue for seasonal use.

Rating: 4.87

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Truckee.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Book this historic log cabin starting at $185 per night

This bright two-bedroom cabin suits five guests in quiet, residential downtown Steamboat Springs, and is just a six-block walk to Main Street. It's right for couples or small families (and one well-trained, quiet dog, if pre-approved.) It's also one of the area's original log cabins.

Here, there's an expansive fenced yard, spacious deck, gas grill, fire pit, and pretty views of the surrounding landscape. There's also a recently remodeled and well-stocked kitchen, TV, Wi-Fi, and parking for two cars.

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Rating: 4.96

Search additional listings in Steamboat Springs.

2021 Travel Trend No. 2: Redefining the staycation

Domestic travel will continue to trend in 2021, according to the survey, with 62 percent of people interested in taking a vacation within driving distance of home.

Whereas trip planning in 2019 for 2020 included destinations like Paris, London, and Rome for U.S. travelers, Airbnb forecasts that 2021 travel will favor domestic locations in national parks, ski, and beach towns.

And while they keep close to home, travelers are looking for more unique experiences and are most likely to book nontraditional — and environmentally friendlier — spaces, including treehouses, yurts, barns, Cycladic houses, and domes. 

These are the most popular locations and residential types on Airbnb for a 2021 staycation.

Davenport, Florida

Book this private condo starting from $58 per night

Hosts bill this Davenport listing as a "hidden gem," offering value-priced accommodations for four with one bedroom with a queen bed and one bath. There is also a sofa bed in this top floor condo unit that is located on a resort-like property in the ChampionsGate area, with a pool and fitness center.

Reviewers praise this listing for its responsive host, convenient washer and dryer, and central location with easy access to Disney and other theme parks.

Rating: 4.94

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Davenport.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Book this cozy yurt starting from $82 per night

Travelers looking for rustic accommodations without sacrificing comfort should consider a glamping yurt experience like the one found here, which is perfect for hikers and bikers. Indeed, the Mineral Belt trail is a minutes' walk away. 

The yurt holds four guests and is located a half-mile from downtown Leadville, which is about 40 miles from Breckenridge.

Inside, savor starry views from a loft and there's also a couch that pulls out into a full-size bed. The space includes a half bath, a TV, and a kitchenette with a fridge and microwave. Kids and dogs are welcome and a pack-and-play is available on request. The fenced back patio is lovely for relaxing outdoors, and best of all, the yurt has a private entrance and private parking space.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Breckenridge.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Book this cozy treehouse starting at $175 per night

Smoky Mountain Treehouse is tucked high in the treetops at 3,700 feet in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. A private wooded lot surrounds the home, which is located at the end of a quiet street.

The home has room for six, with two master bedrooms as well as a pullout sofa in the family room. The kitchen is fully stocked with small appliances, dishes, pots and pans, and utensils. There's a push-button gas log fireplace in the living room for a truly cozy feel, while rocking chairs on the covered back porch are surrounded by trees. The patio also has a picnic table for meals or games and there is a gas grill on the deck for outdoor cooking.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Palm Springs, California

Book this large, secluded dome house starting at $382 per night

This striking Palm Springs geodesic dome house is situated on five remote acres with stunning views of the desert, mountains, valleys, windmills, and Joshua trees. This listing is supremely secluded, and access is via a dirt road. Still, it's just a 15-minute drive to downtown Palm Springs. And yes, there is strong and fast Wi-Fi.

The home has a spacious kitchen with indoor and outdoor dining areas, three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and an office, with room for six spread over three Queen beds. The living room has a 26-foot ceiling, and the unique loft bedroom impressed with dramatic skylights, as you'd expect from such a unique, dome-shaped lodging.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Palm Springs.

2021 Travel Trend No. 3 – 4: The rise of pod travel and planning for the future

Having created an urgent longing for human connection, the pandemic caused many to want to relocate permanently or temporarily live near family: 85 percent of survey respondents expressed this feeling.

And as a result, families are choosing Airbnb as a safer way to connect with each other, with three times more recent wish lists including "family." Groups of loved ones — families, friends — now quarantine together as a "pod," which has emerged as a clear trend. 

Additionally, Airbnb's survey found that travel still inspires as much as ever: 36 percent of respondents said they daydream about travel daily or more, increasing to 47 percent among those who work from home. Airbnb's research also showed that planning a trip makes respondents feel hopeful.

While travel might look different in 2021, these are the US cities where Airbnb users want to go as soon as it's safe.

Taos County, New Mexico

Book this cozy midcentury trailer starting at $76 per night

This 1954 Silver Dome travel trailer is located minutes from town with room for two in a full bedroom. The turquoise bathroom comes with a tub and shower that both have new plumbing, and the kitchen and living room are decked out with a nostalgic midcentury aesthetic. For basic cooking, there's a stove, microwave, and refrigerator. 

This bright and airy listing offers spectacular mountain views from all around, best enjoyed from the welcoming fenced yard and small deck. Expect to see stunning sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Taos.

Tisbury, Massachusetts

Book this cottage on a pond starting at $136 per night

This charming cabin was built in 1930 and faces a freshwater pond inhabited by ducks, swans, bunnies, snapping turtles, and bullfrogs. (No swimming is allowed.) Enjoy the tranquil view from the shaded deck under a tree.

This furnished private studio is detached and secluded more than 150 feet from the main house and is fully remodeled with streamlined decor. The cabin has room for two guests with a Queen-size bed with a foam mattress, a full bathroom, and an efficiency kitchen with a cooktop, a small fridge, microwave, and toaster. 

Rating: 4.93

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Tisbury.

Maine

Book this luxury treehouse starting at $395 per night

This 350-square-foot treehouse may be petite (as homes go), but it comes with plenty of little luxuries. There are soothing timber walls, a farmhouse-inspired full kitchen with a vintage fridge, and a Queen-sized bedroom with a custom maple headboard.

Front row views of treetops are seen through many windows that invite tons of natural light, ant the full bathroom guarantees there's no roughing it, with a spa-like rainfall shower. There's also a cute dining nook and two sleeping areas with Queen-sized beds. 

Other perks include a hide-away projector and screen to stream movies on high-speed internet, a wood stove, a deck with a grill and a private hot tub, and views of the trout pond (where you can catch your own meals). The home's energy is wind sourced, soon to be solar and totally carbon neutral.

Rating: 4.96

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Maine or read our guide to the best Airbnbs in Maine.

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