US Travel Sentiment post-COVID-19
The impact of the COVID-19 impact of has affected U.S. local travel plans and spending for the remainder of 2020 in several aspects. A majority of Americans will now travel by car, a significant percentage having switched from flying to driving. Traveling distances overall will average around 700 miles; however, half of U.S. travelers who travel by car plan to travel less than 200 miles. Travel destinations include visiting friends and family, more traditional vacation destinations will include parks, campgrounds and other outdoor and remote destinations. Travelers planning to still travel by air were interested in popular big city vacation destinations such as Las Vegas and New York. These more modest travel plans are driven by a pullback in vacation spending; two-thirds of Americans intend to spend less than was originally budgeted prior to COVID-19, some by a significant percentage.
Means of Travel
- A study in late April from Longwoods International of the travel plans for 1,000 U.S. adults indicated that 63% of respondents planned to travel by car in the next six months, while 23% planned to travel by plane. One quarter of respondents said they had changed their travel from air to automobile.
- In the same study, one in ten survey participants had changed their travel from international to domestic.
Expected Travel Distance
- A travel research firm study reported that Americans plan to travel almost 700 miles for their next vacation trip, with higher-income travelers planning even farther travel plans.
- Of those planning to travel by car, survey participants split on distance traveled, with half planning to travel less than 200 miles and half planning to travel greater than 200 miles.
Anticipated Travel Destinations
- In terms of types of travel, in the Longwoods study 42% of respondents reported that they plan to visit family/friends; one-third of respondents plan to visit "traditional" vacation locations.
- After travel restrictions have been lifted, the top 3 destinations U.S. travelers would to travel to are beaches, small towns, and outdoor areas.
- Travelers will trend to prefer remote travel locations such as campgrounds to continue social distancing practices; parks and other outdoor locations are favored for travel over more indoor congested areas.
- Day trips are expected to rise in the next 3 months; museums and other attractions that can be visited in a day were mentioned as locations.
- Denver and Las Vegas at this point seem to be two of the more popular summer vacation plans for U.S. travelers.
- A survey from Dollar Flight Club indicated that the most popular destinations its members wanted to travel to in 2020 (once restrictions are lifted) were Alaska, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Hawaii and New York.
- An example of an open-air attraction that is seeing increased usage is the Civil War Trails, a walking and driving trail that winds through six states featuring historic Civil War checkpoints.
Vacation Spending Pre and Post COVID-19
- Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. traveler spent an average of approximately $2,000 on travel per year.
- Travel spending is being cut back due to COVID-19; only about one-third of Americans plan to spend as much on travel as before COVID-19, one-third of travelers will cut back from their original budgets from 1-40% and one-third plan to cut up to more than 40% of spending.
- Although travelers are interested in more low-cost travel options due to the economic effects of the pandemic, only 3 in 10 of U.S. travelers would be very likely to travel if offered a travel deal (air, hotel, etc), with younger customers slightly more willing to travel in respond to deals.
- Factors that will go into whether U.S. consumers resume traveling in 2020 include whether hotels and eating places will be open as well as attraction and activities being open to enjoy
A variety of research studies recently conducted on travel impact from COVID-19 were cited, along with travel-oriented news sources and state tourist websites.