Is 2021 the year to make travel matter?

It’s what we’ve all be waiting for, ‘next year’. As the world breathes a collective sigh of relief now that 2020 is over, what happens now?

The pandemic is far from over and while Australia has carried on with life relatively normal (besides our friends in Victoria and Sydney’s Northern Beaches clusters), one thing that hasn’t returned to normal is travel.

When it comes to travel, we all know it broadens one’s horizon and teaches one about other places, other cultures and also about oneself. There’s been a growing trend to take it a step further and make travel more meaningful.

For the past decade I’ve been a travel blogger and travel writer, taking regular overseas trips since my very first in 1996 (pre-Instagram). The past 24 years has seen my travel habits change – from racing around to every imaginable city ticking off the big tourist attractions, packing in as much as possible into every single day, to slower, more immersive travel. I’ve spent six months in Rome, determined to become a Roman (which never eventuated, that’s another story, for another time), a month in Buenos Aires where I never learnt to tango but did wash down plenty of Malbec at a number of Asados, a month learning to cook and write about food in Vietnam, a month learning Italian in Bergamo and the list goes on.

Our travel is likely to be limited to within Australia for some time, so why not combine a trip with some professional development or a learning experience? If it’s related to work or what you do for a living, then it could also be a tax deduction (disclaimer: I am not a tax adviser, check with your accountant first).

Conferences and the like also make it easy to travel solo, so there’s no need to convince a spouse, partner or friends to go somewhere. You need to go, for work. Now that’s a win-win.

Here’s a list of worthwhile work-related trips to take in 2021:

Marketing, Advertising, Film, Music, Photographer, Creative Industries

If it’s one thing marketers, advertisers and creatives understand it the power of fun and when you’re having fun, sometimes the best ideas are generated. The Emergence Creative Festival is just that, an immersive anti-conference fusing culture with creative thinking, described as “the biggest shot in the arm you’ve ever had”.

Held from 24 to 26 March 2021 in WA’s stunning wine country Margaret River, Emergence Creative Festival aims to bring together some of the world’s most innovative minds with acclaimed speakers sharing their revelations, inspirations and ‘origin stories’, curated panels and hands-on workshops. It’s not all work, play is just as important and there’s no better place than a wine region for that.

Travel Writers, Bloggers, Videographers, Podcasters, Travel Media

The Australian Society of Travel Writers is a membership-based organisation that reaps rewards for those who meet the criteria to join. Set up for bona fide travel media professionals, the ASTW holds a professional development convention every year at a fantastic location. The last convention was in Cairns that included famils (trips) to the Great Barrier Reef, the Atherton Tablelands and more, the one before was in Bangkok, and in 2021, the ASTW Conference will be held on the Tweed Coast in northern NSW from 14 to 16 October.

Chef, Hospitality, Food Industry, Agriculture

There are many worthy food festivals across Australia but the two that stand out because of their specialisation. Firstly, there’s Beef Australia in Rockhampton in Queensland from 2 to 8 May. From paddocks to pitching for the ‘next big thing’ in the cattle industry, cattle competitions and connections for mentoring, property tours, trade fair and dining experiences – anything beef related, you’ll find it at Beef Australia. Secondly, there’s Truffle Kerfuffle at the opposite end of Australia, in WA’s Southern Forests region, Manjimup. Touted the ‘heart of Australia’s truffle country’, Manjimup is a prolific truffle growing region producing 80 per cent of Australia’s total truffle production. Manjimup’s alluring black truffle is sought after by chefs all over the world and celebrated once a year in a decadent country festival. In 2021, Truffle Kerfuffle celebrates its tenth anniversary and will be held from 25 to 27 June.


Business Chicks is a phenomenal community run by women, for women, think of it as the ultimate professional sisterhood club. Each year, premium members can opt to attend a two-day Business Club Retreat (2021 not yet announced) that aims to connect, inspire, and help women clarify their path and take the next steps to reach their goals. It’s not just for women who own businesses, it’s for all women. If past retreats are anything to go by including Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef, 2021 is likely to be just as appealing. Business Chicks also holds a five-day business school in New York and a leadership retreat to Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private island. Yes ladies, this is one to look out for.

Fashion and Beauty

When it comes to fashion, the Melbourne Fashion Festival is the pick of events to attend in the nation. No place does events quite like Melbourne and their fashion fest goes beyond to include art, ideas, development, shopping, food and drink and more. The 10-day Festival from 11 to 20 March will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2021, making it Australia’s longest running fashion festival. The program of events will take place across multiple locations and platforms including a creative and shopping take-over of Melbourne and beyond, a three-day Australian Fashion Summit with learning sessions and networking events at venues all around Melbourne, Fashion Film Award screenings, and the Festival’s famous runways featuring Australia’s most respected designers, including the traditional opening night extravaganza, Gala Runway.


Medical and Health

Emergency Tasmania Conference draws a variety of emergency medicine sectors including, doctors, nurses, paramedics, allied health professional and educators and is set to be held at Cradle Mountain in August. The past conference included sessions on the evolution of future of paramedics in emergency care, infectious disease, head trauma, ultrasound and more. Mornings started with yoga sessions and there was plenty of opportunity to network with interstate colleagues.


Australia’s leading mining forum, Diggers and Dealers, will be held in mining country, Kalgoorlie, in the Western Australia’s goldfields from 2 to 4 August. Combining corporate presentations by listed mining and exploration companies alongside a large exhibition area housing over 164 exhibitors from the sector, delegates include miners, explorers, brokers, bankers, investors, financiers and mining service industries from around the world. The event provides a unique opportunity for industry professionals to meet and network, visit regional mine sites, engage with media, raise finance, invest in projects and generally engage with the resources sector at an executive level.

A world class entertainment program ensures that delegates experience the very best of the style and hospitality of Kalgoorlie, the unofficial gold mining capital of Australia.


The Master Builders National Leader’s Summit connects political and government leaders with CEOs and decision makers from the building and construction industry and the Master Builders Movement. The inaugural event in 2019 was held at Parliament House Canberra and created a forum for engagement, ideas and relationships which brought together leaders from the major political parties, power brokers and influencers, senior public servants, investment decision makers and influential media. If that’s too many suits for you, then you might prefer to enter and attend the National Excellence in Building and Construction Awards held in November that recognises the builders and very best building projects from around the country in residential, industrial and civil construction sectors, from a display home, to an apartment block, hospital, an office tower, an outback bridge or an inner-city transport hub.

Tourism Industry

Destination Australia will be held on 4 March in Sydney. After the unprecedented challenges of 2020, the conference will focus on the future of Australian tourism, with high profile speakers sharing consumer insights, global trends and discussing key opportunities for the tourism industry in a post-COVID world. Destination Australia will also be offered online for those unable to attend in person.

Social Media and Digital Marketing

In Perth, the State of Social held on 24 and 25 August is designed for mindful marketers and bright business brains to step off the digital marketing merry-go-round and regroup, rethink and redefine digital and social best practice. The digital world is continuously changing and if you don’t keep up with the latest, then it’s likely that the same-old strategies will be rendered useless.

Get planning

One of the best parts of travelling is the anticipation of the trip. So, get googling, block your diary and start make plans to get away to add (potentially tax deductable) professional development to the mix of your travel plans in 2021.