New Research Shows How Pandemic Has Changed Travel Habits

Photo by Marco López on Unsplash

A new survey from Momentive (formerly known as SurveyMonkey) has shed some light on the way the pandemic has transformed travel habits among Americans.

Momentive’s survey revealed many interesting details. For one, it found that more than half (51 percent) of fully vaccinated American adults have booked trips within in the last year and a half, with millennials being particularly active—a promising sign for the travel industry. The survey also found that Americans are traveling differently, favoring more affordable vacations to closer destinations—typically those accessible by car.

See a complete rundown of Momentive’s findings below:

Key Findings

  • Just over half of adults in the U.S. who are vaccinated have booked travel in the last year and a half
  • Vacation bookings are down slightly in recent months: 38% of those who booked travel did so 1–3 months ago compared to 29% who have in the last month or less
  • 71% of Americans have formed some sort of new travel habit during the pandemic and of those, some are making their new habits permanent:
  • 35% are planning to spend less money on vacations
  • 28% will be traveling more locally
  • 20% will only travel by car for vacations
  • 62% of Americans say they are “more concerned” about traveling due to the Delta variant
Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

Other Findings

Vaccinations unlocked travel for those who got the shot

  • Half of those who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 (51%) say they’ve booked travel in the last year and a half, while just 39% of those who haven’t been vaccinated say they’ve booked travel in the same time period, according to a new Momentive study fielded August 20–21, 2021
  • A large number of people who have been vaccinated say they are more concerned (71%) about traveling because of the Delta variant, fully 25 points higher than those who are not vaccinated — -only 46% of those who have not gotten a jab say the Delta variant concerns them, split with the 45% who say it has no effect on their concern
  • Those who are unvaccinated are almost twice as likely as those who are vaccinated (40% vs. 24%) to say their travel habits haven’t changed in any major way due to COVID-19.

How COVID-19 has impacted the future of travel

Planning vacations: Nearly half (46%) of all adults in the U.S. have booked travel or accommodations during the pandemic, with two-thirds (66%) having booked within the last three months.

  • The younger age cohort of 18–34 are the most likely to have booked travel during the pandemic (58%), opposed to those who are over the age of 65, the least likely age group to have booked any sort of travel or accommodations (27%).
  • The peak of booking travel among respondents who have made travel reservations during the pandemic was 1–3 months ago (38%), in this last month or less, 29% have booked travel, while only 18% booked travel 4–6 months ago, and 16% more than 6 months ago
  • 35% of Millennials who have booked travel did so less than a month ago, by far the highest among any age group

Travel concerns rise with the emergence of the Delta variant

  • 62% of Americans say they are “more concerned” about traveling due to the Delta variant
  • 35% of respondents are not taking trips because of the Delta variant. Health risks overall and lack of COVID-19 restrictions are a concern for 23% and 22% of Americans. Financial reasons are also a big factor for nearly a quarter (24%) of people to not take a trip
  • Among those who have booked travel less than a month ago, 66% are more concerned about the emergence of the Delta variant, which is more than those who have booked travel farther out in the past (58% 1–3 months ago, 55% 4–6 months ago)

Travel habits of spending less on vacations and staying more local because of pandemic, are becoming permanent for some

  • 71% of Americans have formed some sort of new travel habit during the pandemic and of those who have, some are making their new habits permanent:
  • 35% are planning to spend less money on vacations
  • 28% will be traveling more locally
  • 20% will only travel by car for vacations
  • 34% say they travel more locally now because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 53% say one of their biggest realizations during the pandemic is that they can enjoy just being home and traveling locally
  • 39% of those who say they have not booked any travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, want to make local travel a permanent habit
  • 72% of travelers were booking hotels and vacation rentals 1–3 months ago. That number has dropped to 61% for those who say their most recently booked travel was less than a month ago. Rental car bookings have also dropped from 26% 1–3 months ago to 20% less than a month ago.
  • Going on a cruise is considered to be the riskiest travel activity: 51% of people rank it top two in terms of risk of contracting COVID-19, followed by air travel (39%) and public transportation (38%). Road trips are perceived to be the least risky travel activity, with 21% of people ranking them as their first or second choice.

Suffice it to say that, while the pandemic has had a transformative affect on the way we travel, it’s done little to diminish our desire to travel.

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