Written by Kaleigh Kirkpatrick, The Shameless Tourist
Wow. 2020, right?!
Like everyone else in the world, I really hope I never see another year like this one again.
From fear to anxiety, anger, sadness, loneliness, to pure insanity at times— I’ve felt the entire range of emotions that come with being a human being in 2020— put on top of it a Mom, Wife, Business Owner then ice the cake with the fact that my business is Travel and (like many Texans) my husband is in Oil and Gas (sheesh!).
My 2020 started out with plans to Disney Cruise in March, Nashville in April, and Africa in June; none of which happened, of course. So here I am, sitting in my home like almost everyone else in America—dreaming of— where to next?
If you had asked me “Where to Next?” in February I would have listed places like Argentina, Antarctica, the Galapagos, or Bhutan but with the uncertainty of the world now, everyone is looking to explore their backyards a little further. Places like Yosemite or Mackinac Island were on my list (but were by no means a priority), but suddenly they seemed a whole lot more interesting. With international travel is mostly off the table to many places right now, and those places that are allowing foreign entry can be a bit complicated, my travel interests have shifted, like most Americans, to domestic getaways.
So, where to? What trends am I seeing?
Travel now is a deeply personal decision and everyone has a different comfort level— while some people are not ready to go anywhere just yet, others feel the need to make memories with their families or make up for milestones missed while in quarantine. Some people feel the comfort of knowing hotels are taking sanitation very seriously, while others would prefer to rent a home to stay away from others (pro tip: You can have your cake here and eat it too! There are many resorts throughout the US that offer home/villa rental where you can be alone while also having the comfort of knowing your room was cleaned to a tee— the hotel’s reputation depends upon it).
Overall, the three biggest trends I am seeing in travel at the moment are driving distance vacations, National Parks trips, and visits to the favorite “small towns” in the US. Places such as Napa, Santa Barbara, Seaside/Rosemary Beach, Aspen, Jackson Hole, and Park City are grateful to see tourism bouncing back this summer after a very rough few months. As for the National Parks— in case you weren’t aware— there are 63 National Parks in the US— how many have you seen? I know many people are checking some off their bucket lists this year!
So, where to for me? This summer, I’ve checked quite a few places off my list as I’ve felt very safe in the enhanced precautions that hotels and airlines are taking. Since COVID, I’ve traveled to Amelia Island, Destin, Orlando (twice—once to Universal, and once to Walt Disney World), Kansas City, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Park City, and Santa Barbara. I’ve personally experienced 11 different hotel properties on my travels and traveled many times on a plane through different airports and on different airlines. They are all doing things a little differently; but for the most part I’ve never seen planes, airports, car rentals, or hotels cleaner.
Depending on where you are going, you can also take advantage of some amazing deals and the low crowds most everywhere really make this a special time to travel. I’ve found that if you feel comfortable getting away, you can have an experience that is once in a lifetime— we may never see places like Walt Disney World or many of our cities with such low crowds again.
Lastly, for my advice— Plan early and make sure to book flexible rates so that you can rest assured your plans can change if need be. With most people looking to reschedule their Caribbean or European holidays to US soil, it’s been very difficult in some places to find availability. Also, to note, 2021 bookings for your favorite international destinations are also becoming scarce as nearly everyone booked for 2020 was forced to reschedule for 2021.
There are so many unique, charming, and fascinating places in our world to explore. If you feel safe getting out and about, now is a wonderful time to dream, plan, and travel.
For as long as she can remember, travel has always been an integral part of Kaleigh Kirkpatrick’s life. The desire to see the world and these firsthand experiences are something she loves to share with her clients. This is where The Shameless Tourist evolved – from the love of traveling with her family to you. From learning about other cultures, to skiing to Disney Parks, to just enjoying time on the beach; she truly feels like travel shapes who we are and shapes who our children become. To read more about Kaleigh’s talents and how can help you safely plan your next vacation, click on her profile!
Kaleigh Kirkpatrick specializes in luxury travel, seamless experiences, and a line of services for on-site concierge at Walt Disney World through her business, The Shamless Tourist.