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  • Jun 25, 2021
  • 4 Minutes

A new world of travel is emerging as we adapt to life after lockdown 

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, we’ve noticed that new travel trends are emerging.

Many aspects of everyday life are being shaped by the fallout from the pandemic, so we’ve taken a look at how things are changing in the world of travel.

Take holidays, for example. Most of us would love to jet off overseas at this time of year, but nearly half of the UK says it will be driving to a Blighty-based holiday destination this year and 75% say they will not be using public transport in the near future.

Restrictions, uncertainty, and health concerns are driving a new wave of decision making when it comes to spending money on holidays, and even how people are viewing public transport services in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Emerging trends should make interesting reading for the UK travel industry, which is worth £106 billion to the economy and accounts for over 2.5 million jobs.

Recent consumer data gathered by our data insights team shows that the commonplace tradition of looking to travel abroad to holiday might be dramatically reversed.

Almost half of the population – 47% – say 2021 will be a year when they shun overseas travel and instead opt for the safety and surety of a UK-based staycation, many for the first time.

This change of behaviour can be seen through the explosion of sales of the iconic Volkswagen California campervan – a timeless symbol of ‘on the road’ travel and freedom. According to the latest figures, we have seen a 621% year on year rise in the number of California campervans being financed as many people look closer to home to take safe control of their travel and holidaying experience.

A rethink for public transport?

Attitudes connected to the safety and appeal of using public transport solutions are also under scrutiny.

Our data shows that when it comes to holidays, nearly half say that they will be driving to a UK holiday destination this year at the expense of other public transport means. The under 45s are more than twice as likely to adopt this course of action compared to the over 45s.

And the safety fears and coronavirus anxieties mean that increased personal travel levels in the confinement of private vehicles for everyday tasks is set to continue even after the pandemic subsides.

Three quarters (75%) of people in Britain say that the experience of the past year has increased the likelihood that they will travel in their own vehicle rather than use public transport when it comes to work and leisure commitments in the future.  

Can the road network cope?

The growth in private vehicle importance is also backed up with 60% of people saying that private vehicles have risen in importance to them over the past twelve months. With road network capacity always a challenge, the fact that more people intend to use more cars in the future is a challenging trend for those charged with infrastructure planning for the decades ahead.

What do the experts say?

Mike Todd, CEO of Volkswagen Financial Services, explained that the travel industry needs to be flexible as the nation continues to adjust to life after lockdown.

He said: “It seems that the pandemic has made many people reassess their attitudes and behaviours in a number of areas. Whilst choosing to holiday in the UK more or utilising private vehicles at the expense of public transport for safety and protection reasons are interesting emerging consumer trends, the macro impact of such changes could be profound for businesses, policy makers, planners, and society.

“For instance, the travel sector will need to adjust so that it provides more UK staycation options alongside traditional overseas offerings, whilst those looking at the UK transport infrastructure model will need to consider potential reductions over time in the numbers using public transport and the potential increase in the amount of vehicles using the road network.

“Looking back to 2019, no-one could have predicted the seismic impact of COVID-19 on many parts of our lives, but it is clear that change is occurring before our eyes as consumers react to what they have been through over the past year.”

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