When can you get back on the road to adventure? Who better to ask than Tom Hale, president of Country roads, the world’s largest active adventure company. Here are his snapshots of the world of adventure travel in 2021.
Everett Potter: The vaccine is here and there is some promise of normal life resuming in the not too distant future. What is the journey like in 2021 from where you are?
Tom Hale: From my perspective, 2021 is shaping up to be an incredible year for active travel. We have seen people flock to outdoor activities like biking and hiking throughout the pandemic, and I have a feeling many of these people will be eager to incorporate these new passions into their travel plans. . We’re seeing huge interest in our new easy-going Dolce Tempo Trips, which we hope will open up active travel to a whole new group of people. If there are any changes in the way people travel after the pandemic, we would expect them to be more active, more outdoors, and more off the beaten path – the Backroads travel style is the style. ideal trip to return.
EP: Do you have a feeling of pent-up demand from your Backroads customers?
TH: Absolutely. Since the holidays we have seen a steady increase in customer calls and bookings. With the vaccine news, our customers seem optimistic about travel in 2021 and they are increasingly ready to plan their vacations. Our national trips for spring and summer are already filling up – in fact, travel bookings in North America are at an all time high. And based on the number of people requesting our catalogs and booking trips for the summer and fall, we expect 2021 to be a really big year.
EP: Does Backroads already have a full list of trips planned for 2021?
TH: We certainly do. Backroads has nearly 3,000 departures scheduled for 2021 in North America, Europe and around the world. We already have over 10,000 customers booked on 2021 trips. And we’ve added some exciting new trips to North America – from our walking and hiking tour in Newfoundland, where we stay at the amazing Fogo Island Inn, to our new four day Aspen bike tour, to a new trip to Israel and Jordan and updates. to timeless European adventures like our Berlin to Prague bike tour. We have worked hard to prepare for 2021 to be our best year yet.
EP: What kind of traveler protection has Backroads put in place for traveling this year?
TH: We organized hundreds of trips from June to December, which allowed us to tweak and make changes, and work with our hotels and other partners to put safety protocols in place. We believe what we learned in 2020 will give us a head start in offering customers the most responsible way to travel this year. Some of our precautions include: offering al fresco dining as often as possible, limiting the number of guests per van so they can space out, and requiring masks in vans at all times. Guests will have the option of sitting at smaller tables for meals or on their own, and take out and room service are also an option when available. Most importantly, the style of travel we offer is at your own pace, outdoors during the day, with as much ‘social distancing’ as you want. It always has been, and always will be, with Backroads.
EP: Are there any domestic trips currently underway?
TH: We are currently running trips to some hotter destinations, like our Florida Keys Multi-Adventure, Saguaro & Tucson Multi-Adventure in Arizona, and Hawaii Multi-Adventure. We are also running snow adventure trips to Yellowstone and the Tetons this winter. California’s current shutdown has put a few trips on hold, but in February we hope to resume cycling in Death Valley, walking and walking in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, and Santa Barbara and Ojai Bike. Tower.
EP: When do you think international travel could resume?
TH: We are of course limited to destinations that have gone far enough in their management of the virus that they have successfully reopened to tourism. Beyond that, it’s about where people feel comfortable. Right now we have a handful of dates in Costa Rica, Peru, and Morocco in the spring that we’re planning to host. For large-scale European travel, we expect the borders to reopen once enough people have been vaccinated for things to improve here and in Europe. Looks like initial departures in late spring / early summer. We anticipate that late summer and fall bookings will be at an all time high. September is generally our most important month in Europe, and this year we expect most trips to be sold out.
EP: What should travelers be prepared for if they take a Backroads trip this summer?
TH: They should be ready to have a good time! Our travel style – outdoor, active, and self-sufficient – is the right kind of adventure for these crazy times. I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t predict what summer will be like, but I can promise you that on our trips you will have the same active adventure, amazing landscapes, amazing leaders and roads like always. Spending time with your loved ones, enjoying the fresh air, and having some authentic, active fun is what Backroads is all about, and it’s more important now than ever.