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This Memorial Day feels like a real milestone, and not just because it’s the unofficial start of summer. Coronavirus cases are dropping, more Americans are vaccinated and many people will no doubt use this three-day weekend to ease themselves back into travel.
In fact, Memorial Day travel trends are a good indicator of what travel might look like for July Fourth weekend and through the summer. Vacation rentals in particular have become a popular alternative to hotel stays during the pandemic, and AirDNA, a short-term rentals analytics website, predicts a record demand for short-term rentals this summer.
Here’s what the data says travelers are looking for when booking vacation rentals for Memorial Day weekend this year. You can use these trends to help plan your own Fourth of July holiday and other summer vacations. Just be sure to have your rental car situation figured out before committing to a destination. You don’t want to be left without wheels in this summer’s rental car frenzy.
4 vacation rental trends for summer 2021
1. Urban destinations are out, rural destinations are in
According to AirDNA, demand for vacation rentals in cities has dropped dramatically compared with 2019, the last “normal” travel year. There’s 45% fewer searches for vacation rentals in large cities for Memorial Day 2021. Meanwhile, small city and rural destinations have seen a 50% increase in demand.
Here are some of Airbnb’s top trending rural destinations for Memorial Day this year if you need inspiration for a getaway:
Alamosa County, Colorado.
Nye County, Nevada.
Sanpete County, Utah.
Angel Fire, New Mexico.
Washington County, Virginia.
West Yellowstone, Montana.
Jackson County, North Carolina.
Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
Coastal and mountain/lake destinations are also experiencing a 30% increase in searches for Memorial Day weekend. Think places like Cape May, New Jersey; Lake Powell, Arizona; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; and Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
2. Cabin stays keep travelers close to the outdoors
If you’re headed to the mountains, you probably want to book a cute, wood-paneled cabin. Cabins are the No. 1 unique stay type most saved to wish lists in 2021, according to Airbnb. For Memorial Day, demand is also up for tents and campsites. It’s clear that outdoor activities and outdoor space are still important to travelers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, albeit slower than before.
3. Many want room for bigger groups
Perhaps because more people are vaccinated and can gather more safely, demand is up for rentals with five or more bedrooms, according to AirDNA. That size of rental can accommodate people who are traveling in larger groups, like family members and friends who are reconnecting after not seeing each other for the past year. The change is particularly stark in small city and rural destinations, where searches for rentals with several rooms have increased 66%.
4. Most trips will be domestic
International travel is slowly starting to return. Check our map for the latest info of where U.S. citizens can go.
The European Union will welcome vaccinated travelers from the U.S. this summer. But with stipulations for stopgap measures and a continually fluctuating number of coronavirus cases abroad, Airbnb expects most travelers to stay stateside this summer.
For Memorial Day, 70% of searches were for remote destinations within 50 to 300 miles of the user's home.
The bottom line
Memorial Day is one of the first national holidays since the U.S. opened vaccinations to adults in all states. Many travelers are expected to book a vacation rental for their first getaway of the summer, and demand for vacation rentals will likely stay high in the upcoming months, particularly for rural, coastal, mountain and lake destinations. Travelers are also booking more cabins and other unique accommodations that will keep them close to nature.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card