Travelers are mostly seeking family-friendly short-term rentals in rural areas relatively close to home. But major cities have risen in popularity for long-term summer stays too.

This year’s “hot vax summer” is about to get underway, and pent-up travel demand is priming this summer for a busy one for the short-term rental industry.

Short-term rental giant Airbnb recently released its Report on Travel & Living, which reveals just where travelers are looking to go this summer and what kinds of things they’re looking for. Data included in the report defines summer travel as bookings for June 1 through August 31.

This summer, a lot of families are looking for getaways within driving distance of their homes. Family travel rose from 27 percent of summer bookings in 2019 to 33 percent in 2021. (Airbnb defined “family travel” as reservations that include infants or children, so actual family travel may be even greater.) Not surprisingly, a high proportion of that family travel will also be to remote destinations, bookings of which have increased to 42 percent of summer vacation nights booked in 2021, up from 32 percent of nights booked in 2019.

Rural getaways with access to the outdoors will be a big part of travel this summer in comparison to previous summers. “This great escape to rural is a trend we’re seeing across all groups and locations,” Airbnb’s report reads. “In 2015, rural travel accounted for less than 10 percent of nights booked globally on Airbnb, and in 2021, it now accounts for more than double that and is oftentimes triple that in many countries, including Canada (43 percent), France (45 percent), the U.K. (48 percent), Australia (42 percent) and the U.S. (28 percent).”

In some of the hottest international destinations, top cities for travel have drifted from big-name cities that were popular two years ago to less populated getaways for 2021:

  • France: From Paris to Var
  • Italy: From Rome to Sardinia
  • Korea: From Seoul to Jeju
  • Spain: From Barcelona to Costa Blanca
  • U.K.: From London to Cornwall

U.S. bookings this year are also generally trending toward rural stays close to national and state parks, the Great Lakes, and white sand beaches. The top U.S. destinations for this summer include:

  • Whitefish Mountain, Montana (near Glacier National Park)
  • South County, Rhode Island
  • Bancroft-Madawaska, Canada (near Algonquin Provincial Park)
  • Panama City Beach, Florida
  • West Yellowstone, Montana
  • Florida Panhandle
  • Northern Wisconsin (near Lake Superior and Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest)
  • Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  • Black Hills, South Dakota
  • Miramar Beach, Florida
  • Park County, Montana
  • Michigan Upper Peninsula (Great Lakes, Hiawatha National Forest)
  • Acadia National Park

As far as long-term stays go, cities are still in the mix for vacationers. The top three destinations for U. S. long-term stay Airbnbs are all cities: New York (62 percent of summer nights booked are long-term stays), Los Angeles (43 percent are long-term) and Seattle (40 percent are long-term). Globally, the top destinations for long-term stays in many countries are also major cities — that includes Melbourne, Australia; Montreal, Canada; Paris, France; Berlin, Germany; Mexico City, Mexico; and London, U.K.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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