Even though COVID is raging more out of control than ever in the U.S., the summer travel bug is proving to be irresistible to many Americans—most say they plan to travel within the next four months, although the overwhelming majority remain concerned about exposure to COVID-19 while traveling, according to new research from travel booking platform Qtrip.
The firm’s newly released 2020 Consumer Travel Surveygauged people’s travel plans and comfort level amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with 4,755 respondents to the company’s subscriber list offering insight into the consumer mindset right now.
“There is intense wanderlust in America right now, but a lot more lust than actual wandering,” said Jeff Klee, CEO of Qtrip, in a news release. “After all this, the thought of flying to a beach somewhere with my family makes me want to cry—it sounds so great, but now is not the time.”
Since COVID-19 lockdowns began in mid-March, the American travel scene has changed dramatically
Air travel dropped by more than 96 percent at the peak of the pandemic in April and has since begun to rebound. However, data from TSA checkpoints suggest that, as of late June, U.S. airports continue to see only 20 to 25 percent of their 2019 passenger numbers. Even as COVID-19 cases surge in a number of states, the travel rebound continues, leading to renewed closures and lockdowns at hot destinations.
In the survey, 34 percent of respondents said they plan to travel starting this summer, while another 21 percent plan to travel by fall, with 24 percent remain unsure of when they’ll resume traveling, and the remainder are aiming for this upcoming winter or spring. Nearly 69 percent of the respondents say they are concerned for their health while traveling during the pandemic.
Travel plans are likely to revolve around seeing family and friends
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they are looking forward to reuniting with family, and 15 percent are excited to see friends. Just 0.78 percent feel the same way about their coworkers (Zoom burnout?).
An important factor in travel will be cost. Sixty percent of respondents said they are now on a tighter budget as a result of the crisis. That, combined with health concerns and the uncertainty of international travel restrictions, is likely one reason why 53 percent are extremely likely or very likely to go on a domestic vacation, versus only 36 percent for an international vacation. The closing of borders to Americans and the threat of being quarantined or sent home are likely factors as well.
When asked about the first places they’d visit after social distancing was lifted, respondents came up with colorful answers. The usual list of hot destinations in Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia showed up many times on the list. Other hot spots included bars and pubs, barbers and hairdressers, restaurants, gyms, and casinos. A public service announcement to the respondent who wrote Buffalo Wild Wings: they do takeout, although we know that cannot replicate the authenticity of the sit-down experience.