Survey: Travel Resuming But Most Americans Staying Close To Home

Travel is resuming, but most Americans are not planning to stray far from home, according to a survey by The American Hotel & Lodging Association, due to lingering concerns about  and issues relating to COVID-19.

survey conducted by Morning Consult commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that only 44 percent of Americans are planning overnight vacation or leisure travel in 2020, with high interest in road trips, family events, and long weekends over the summer months. Encouragingly, 68 percent of these expectant travelers say they are likely to stay in a hotel in 2020. By a wide margin, Americans planning trips in 2020 plan will travel by car and stay either at family/friend’s house or hotel.

Among Americans planning to travel in 2020, 59 percent expect to take their first overnight trip by the end of the summer. Summer road trips will take center stage, with 72 percent planning an overnight vacation via car over the next five months. Of these, 75 percent expect to drive two or more hours.

On their next overnight trip, 43 percent plan to stay with family and friends, and 39 percent plan to stay in a hotel; just nine percent plan to stay at a short-term rental such as Airbnb or VRBO, and five percent in a camper or RV. Nearly eight in ten (78 percent) are planning a trip of four days or less suggesting long-weekend trips will be first vacation travel to return.

“Travel is by no means back yet, but we are encouraged to see people begin to travel as their communities reopen, and we all learn to navigate this new normal,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “If you are thinking about traveling in 2020, my message to you is that hotels are clean and safe places, and we are ready to welcome you when you’re ready to travel. Through our Safe Stay initiative, we’ve enhanced our already rigorous cleaning protocols to be more transparent and give you even more peace of mind.”

Key findings among those planning to travel in 2020:

What kind of travel they’re planning: 81 percent expect to take a day trip and 72 percent expect to take an overnight vacation via car within the next five months. The overwhelming majority do not expect to take cruises (14%), camper/RV trips (28 percent), or vacations via plane (32 percent) in 2020.

How far they’re traveling: Among those planning a vacation via car, 75 percent plan to travel two or more hours (40 percent plan to drive more than four hours, and 35 percent plan to drive two to four hours)

Where they’re staying: On their next overnight trip, 43 percent say they will stay with family or friends, 39 percent in a hotel, 9 percent in a short-term rental, and 5 percent in a camper/RV.

How long they’re staying: 78 percent are planning trips of four nights or less.

Why they’re traveling: 55 percent plan to travel for a family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary or family reunion; 50 percent plan to travel for Christmas, 43 percent for Thanksgiving, 33 percent for Fourth of July, and 30 percent for Labor Day.

About 70 percent of Americans take a vacation in any given year, according to OmniTrak (TNS) data—suggesting that travel is a long way from pre-COVID-19 levels.

This poll was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. The survey was conducted June 16-19, 2020 among a national sample of 2,200 adults. Of these, 973 respondents indicated they plan to travel in 2020. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results among those who plan to travel in 2020 have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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