Travel trends to watch in 2020


The year is quickly coming to a close. For many, that means it’s time for family gatherings, loads of comfort food, a well-deserved break from work, and, most importantly, introspection.

We took a deep dive into the travel trends we saw in 2019, evaluated the current landscape, and made some data-driven predictions to watch in the year ahead—all about Americans’ vacation preferences and the short-term rental industry at large.

The first two of our three predictions are based on a study we conducted in partnership with Allison+Partners in May 2019. We asked 1,003 Americans above the age of 18 about their travel plans over the next 12 months.

1. People crave hidden gem travel destinations.

We asked travelers what factor was most important to them while on vacation—and unsurprisingly, the majority (57%) said it’s all about location.

Vacasa’s local teams are based in every market where we manage homes, and they interact with guests on a daily basis. From conversations with them, we’ve found that more people are opting for destinations off the beaten path.

By choosing charming towns and smaller cities outside major hotspots, travelers can save money and escape the crowds. We expect this trend to continue in 2020, especially given our larger cultural focus on the environment and broad awareness of overtourism.

2. Dogs play a huge role in determining where—and when—their owner will go on vacation.

These days, many U.S. households view their dog less like a pet and more like a family member. This trend is extending to travel, with people believing their dogs shouldn’t be left behind during vacations.

We found that more than half of dog owners (61%) choose vacation destinations with their furry companion in mind, while 64% plan accommodations for trips specifically so they can bring their dogs. Since dog ownership has been increasing in the U.S. year-over-year, we anticipate more people will have their eyes on dog-friendly travel destinations in 2020.

3. Interest in alternative accommodations is increasing.

According to Phocuswright, nearly one in three U.S. travelers used private accommodations in 2015, up from fewer than one in 10 in 2010.

We’ve seen this trend continue over the years, as more people crave authentic travel experiences. Vacation rentals often deliver a more personalized touch than standard hotel rooms, and they’re more integrated into the surrounding communities.

In October 2019, we commissioned a study through FocusVision, surveying 984 individuals who own one or more vacation rentals across the U.S. to get a better grasp on the evolving (and rapidly growing) short-term rental industry. Here’s what we learned.

1. Vacation rentals reign supreme over other types of investments—even entrepreneurs and Millennials are taking note.

Among owners who are currently using their property as a short-term rental, 82% say their vacation home is equal to or better than their other investments.

Turns out, just over a quarter of the homeowners we surveyed say they chose the specific location of their second home because it provides a good return on investment.

This trend extends to the younger generation who grew up during the vacation rental boom. Our Vacation Rental Buyers Report found that 61% of those buying vacation rentals in their 30s are investor buyers. We know owners of second homes are an industrious bunch who strive to live life on their own terms. Approximately a quarter of them are also business owners—compared to only about 10% of the general U.S. population, according to Pew Research Center.

2. Owners don’t want home upkeep to feel like a second job.

Of course, there are times when caring for a property can become burdensome. The average owner spends almost three weeks per year on regular home upkeep—and those with second homes say maintenance is the most difficult part of owning additional properties. With all the stressors of daily life, who really has the time or energy to take care of everything themselves?

Revenue optimization takes work, too. Among owners who use their second homes as self-managed vacation rentals, only 13% change their nightly rates at least once a month, and only 15% list their home on more than two booking channels. This means they’re missing out on a lot of revenue potential.

Full-service property management companies like Vacasa can step in to eliminate the headache of maintenance—and we help our homeowners earn 31% more on average.* In 2020, we expect homeowners will increasingly be in search of support, so they can spend more of their valuable time decompressing, or embarking on a well-earned vacation.

3. More family homes are becoming vacation rentals.

Among owners of second homes, 28% received the property through inheritance. These individuals want to hold on to the home for its sentimental value, which explains why a whopping 61% of these folks said they intend to rent out their inherited home. However, they may not have the time or resources to oversee the additional property—and that’s where full-service managers like Vacasa come in.

We learned that Americans want to travel to under-the-radar destinations, bring their dogs along, and have a consistent yet unique experience.

Meanwhile, people across the U.S. are purchasing vacation rentals to make memories with loved ones and earn more bang for their buck. Those who inherit second homes are converting them to vacation rentals for the same reasons.

The common theme we’re detecting among all these findings is that 2020 is the year to invest time and resources into building real connections—and that’s what vacations are all about. So, whatever your travel and investment goals are, we want to help. And, we’ll do what we can to make your 2020 unforgettable.

Discover the benefits of a professional management team.


Find a home for your next vacation in 2020.

Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

*Average increase in net revenue with Vacasa during the first year for owners who were eligible for, and chose to participate in, a Vacasa performance guarantee. Figures based on the average of first-year income guarantees that finished August 2018–August 2019.

Hero image: Bryce LaDuc and Callie Sharp

You might also like...

Family enjoying a car ride
Vacasa spring break travel trends 2020
Aerial view of Santa Cruz beach boardwalk
Summer travel trends 2020
A dog with its family sitting on a dock at the lake
Family vacation rental cabins
How to travel alone
How to travel alone