Mixed-race family unpacking car

4 big summer travel trends to inspire your next getaway

From staying local to working remotely from a new destination, here’s how Canadians are reimagining their vacation as the pandemic restrictions continue

Mixed-race family unpacking carWhether a day trip or an extended stay, many Canadians are opting to vacation locally over the summer (Getty Images/SolStock)

After what has felt like a very long year, summer is finally around the corner. However, summer holidays in 2021 will look a bit different as the world continues to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19.

According to CPA Canada’s summer spending survey, 79 per cent of Canadians surveyed admit they are concerned about how safe it is to travel. And this worry is driving a cautious approach to how people are planning their upcoming vacations.

“A lot of people are still very uncomfortable,” says Frederic Dimanche, director of Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.  “The pandemic has changed the way people view travel.”

For those who do decide to book a summer escape, experts anticipate four major trends in tourism:   


According to CPA Canada’s summer survey, 15 per cent of respondents plan to vacation locally. Of the 22 per cent who plan to vacation outside of their immediate area, 71 per cent plan to remain within their province or territory.

“For most people, trips are likely to be outdoors, towards rural areas,” says Dimanche.

In 2021, Alberta’s Jasper National Park saw more first-day reservations than in previous years. And the trend of travelling locally remains strong, according to Steve Young, public relations and communications manager at the park. “The evidence points to more Albertans coming to Jasper than in the past, judging by last summer and a very busy March 2021,” he says, adding there’s also been an increase in single day-use visits.

Airbnb has also seen growth in bookings for rural destinations. “This summer, the most popular type of travel is families flocking to remote destinations from their big city homes,” says Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb.

So far, 43 per cent of total summer Airbnb bookings in Canada are for countryside locations. And the top trending vacation rentals are near access points to natural features, such as Bancroft-Madawaska, near Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. 


Responding to people’s changing travel patterns of adaptable planning and extending stays, Airbnb recently released more than 100 upgrades to address these trends with flexible date booking and a more lenient cancellation policy. 

Attempting to avoid crowds, people are also booking off-the-beaten-path rentals. This is evident in Airbnb reservations for unique destinations—such as castles and even wagons—which are up 94 per cent in 2021 as vacationers shift away from traditional hotel stays. 

Being adjustable with dates can also make planning getaways more stress-free. With heightened demand due to provincial and international restrictions, Parks Canada is recommending visitors plan for flexibility by considering booking trips during quieter times, such as weekdays instead of weekends—and even off-season. 

“The shoulder seasons [spring and fall] are good options for smaller crowds and have great weather,” says Claudia Crépeault, media relations at Parks Canada. She adds that vacationers can also look to the less busy parks and attractions, such as Quebec’s Forillon National Park and Ontario’s Georgian Bay Islands National Park.


Remote work has significantly blurred the lines between work and home life. After being housebound for more than a year, people are looking to break their daily routine by renting alternative spaces to work from, such as cottages or even hotel rooms. “People can travel anytime … and they are staying longer,” says Chesky.

“During this unique and challenging time, there is an increased demand for private, safe and reliable workspaces,” adds Andy Loges, area general manager Canada East at Hilton Hotels. In response, several hotel chains, including Hilton Hotels, Hyatt and Marriott, have launched work-from-hotel programs to entice travellers on a “workation” and even encourage single-day visits. 

Aside from a change in environment, there are additional perks that come with booking a private room, such as hotel amenities (where open), creating a sense of a mini vacation, says Loges. And, for those who want to extend their stay for a few days, some hotels offer guests the chance to bring their families for a fee.


When the pandemic first hit in March 2020, travel agents helped 14,000 Canadians return home safely, with many being the intermediary between travel companies and clients. With uncertainty over travel and health restrictions, Dimanche suggests travellers take extra precaution when planning vacations this year. 

“The recommendation would be to go through a certified travel [agent]. Because, when you do this, should something happen, they will take care of you and help make alternate arrangements,” he says, adding vacation booking websites and airlines have also adapted to offer additional protection should plans need to be cancelled.

For instance, WestJet is offering up to $200,000 in COVID-related travel coverage when visiting the U.S. from Canada. And Air Canada is now providing its Aeroplan members with complimentary travel insurance via Manulife for new bookings. Popular travel e-booking companies Expedia and Travelocity have also added an extensive list of ways to cancel trips and receive refunds due to pandemic-related changes. 

For Dimanche, an avid traveller himself, vacationing this summer is about risk management. “I think people have to understand that if they take the necessary measures to protect themselves and others, the risk is much, much smaller,” he says. 


Looking for something safe to do this summer? Here are eight ideas for a bubble-friendly summer. And, if planning a trip, be beware of these common vacation scams. Wondering how much Canadians are planning to spend this summer? Read the complete results from CPA Canada’s 2021 summer spending survey for more insights.