Who Will be the First to Travel?

Frequent travelers will travel soonest and they’re not afraid to cross international borders.

Although the majority of Americans (53%) anticipate putting off their next vacation until 2021, there are segments of the population that are more eager than others.  To better understand this, we segmented recent data from our Travel Insights Survey based on travel intent, employment, income, and education.  Four distinct groups emerged, ranging from those most eager to get back to traveling to those willing to hold out until 2023.

Not surprisingly, those most comfortable traveling before the end of 2020 are those who travel the most in general, with an average of 3-4 leisure trips and 2-3 business trips in the past year.

The large majority of these “Eager Travelers” are comfortable traveling in 2020 to a destination within the United States (71%), while 4 in 10 are also comfortable traveling abroad to Australia (48%), Europe (47%), or South America (42%), and 3 in 10 are even comfortable traveling to Africa (36%) or Asia (33%) this year.

Interestingly, “Eager Travelers” feel more comfortable traveling abroad than going to a crowded event or attraction such as a concert or a theme park (40%), which they view as on par with taking a cruise (40%).

More than half are comfortable renting a car (66%), staying in a hotel or Airbnb (66% and 57%, respectively), taking an Uber/Lyft/Cab (53%) or flying (52%) this year. Most (60%+) agree that hotels and airlines have implemented enough new cleaning procedures to protect them against the virus and have already done enough to reassure them that they will be safe.

The large majority can’t wait to get out and start traveling again (78%) and more than half expect that the COVID-19 situation will be resolved before the summer travel season (55%). While their optimism may simply be the result of wanderlust, these folks are ready to get back to traveling as soon as possible. In fact, of the “Eager Travelers” who plan to travel in 2020 (64%), two fifths (40%) plan to travel as early as Memorial Day weekend.

Also, eager to get back to traveling is the “Comfortable Retired” segment, despite being one of the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19. They have the disposable income as well as the time to travel and are willing to get back to traveling sooner rather than later, with most planning to travel in 2020 (61%).

The “Comfortable Retired” segment is much less likely to travel abroad in 2020 (2 in 10 or less depending on the destination) when compared to “Eager Travelers”, but they are very comfortable traveling to a destination within the United States (64%), renting a car (57%), or staying in a hotel (53%).

The public and personal health risk and fear of virus contagion is high for many in the “Comfortable Retired” segment (67% and 52% respectively), which could be contributing to why only 1 in 3 are comfortable flying in 2020 (33%). However, a large majority claim that sanitizing the aircraft completely between flights (82%), strictly enforced cleaning/sanitizing practices at airports (79%), and keeping all middle seats empty (72%) would have a moderate or major impact on their likelihood of flying this year, leaving a window of opportunity for airlines looking to recapture business from this segment in 2020.

KEY TAKEAWAY:
Those most comfortable with traveling in general are willing to get back to traveling sooner, but they remain cautious and some need reassurance from the travel industry that it’s safe.