COVID-19 brings health considerations into travel decisions
As Americans take to the skies and roads this summer, they are taking into consideration a host of new pandemic-driven factors. Whether they plan to relax by their own private pool or enjoy a re-emerging dining scene, travelers are incorporating criteria they did not consider two years ago. Here are a few of the ways travelers are trying to mitigate their health risks this summer:
• Vaccination: Among the Americans planning to travel, 71% say they expect at least half their travel party will be vaccinated at the time they travel. Travelers from the Northeast and West are the most vaccinated, and those from the South and Midwest least.
• Flights: Travelers are opting for direct flights—only 11% of people flying are choosing a domestic itinerary that includes at least one connection. More than twice as many—27% of 2021 summer travelers—plan to fly internationally.
While price tops the airline selection criteria, travelers now also weigh new pandemic-driven factors. The ability to cancel or reschedule, availability of direct flights, and safety protocols all are in the top five airline selection criteria.
• Destination selection: Some of the key factors in the destination decision include local COVID-19 restrictions, crowd avoidance, vaccination status, social distancing stringency, and COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In our survey, at least 75% of travelers took each of these health-/pandemic-related factors into consideration during destination selection.
Where exactly do Americans plan to travel? Beaches lead among all destination types, followed by cities and outdoor experiences (figure 2). A small share plan to visit national and state parks, or theme parks, for their longest trip of the summer, which does not mean they won’t visit these parks on shorter trips.
• Lodging selection: Of the travelers choosing to stay in a hotel, 89% cited enhanced safety measures as a reason for choosing this type of lodging, while the choice of 86% of travelers staying in private rentals is influenced by an amplified sense of control over exposure and their own safety.