Where to First? Americans Eye Europe for Their Post-COVID Bucket List Trips

By TripIt

March 30, 2021

If a year at home has taught us anything about travel, it’s to stop putting off our bucket list trips. 

Indeed, Americans have had their wanderlust tested—many of us in a perpetual state of trip planning research-revise-repeat—since the pandemic began. And as news of vaccines (and vaccine passports) lift our collective spirits, many of us have our fingers hovering above the book button, ready to make our travel dreams a reality once more.

In a survey of more than 3,200 TripIt users based in the U.S., 94 percent of respondents said they plan to travel in 2021. Of those, 26 percent are planning to take a bucket list vacation—that is, a once in a lifetime trip. 

So, where do Americans want to go? 

Americans’ love affair with Europe endures

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. After more than a year of separation, Americans are pining for a European adventure. Our survey data shows that more than twice as many Americans plan to travel to Europe for a bucket list trip versus the second-highest ranking destination: a trip within the U.S.

After Europe and a domestic trip (more on both of those below), Americans said they plan to visit Asia, then Africa. Australia/New Zealand rounded out the top five. Within Asia, Japan was the overwhelming top choice for a bucket list trip. For those planning a trip to Africa, Egypt and Morocco landed atop travelers’ lists. 

Top Destinations for Bucket List Trips
1Europe
2United States
3Asia
4Africa
5Australia/New Zealand

All roads lead to Europe for bucket list trips

From the dramatic coastlines of Italy to the charming seaside towns and distilleries of Scotland, American travelers are ready to put their passports back to use. 

Here are the destinations American travelers want to visit most in Europe:

Top Destinations in Europe
1Italy
2Greece
3France
4Spain
5Scotland

And while, at the time of the survey, many destinations had—and still have—restrictions for American travelers, some countries are loosening their entry requirements. 

Greece, for example, plans to re-open its borders mid-May. Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis said the country is targeting May 14, 2021, for reopening to all visitors who have been vaccinated, test negative, or show antibodies for COVID-19. 

Domestic treks trend south and west

For those U.S. travelers planning a bucket list trip within our borders, a majority plan to visit warmer climes. Travelers plan to head to Hawaii (top choice for a domestic bucket list trip), followed by Florida (second choice), and Arizona (third overall). Colorado and California tied to round out the top five.

Top Destinations within the U.S.
1Hawaii
2Florida
3Arizona
4 (tied)Colorado
4 (tied)California

So, can U.S. travelers start planning—and taking—their domestic bucket list trips? The answer is—it depends on the state.

Through its Safe Travels program, Hawaii allows visitors to skip the mandatory quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 prior to arrival. Vaccinated visitors are currently still required to provide a negative result, though the state is aiming to utilize some type of digital health passport to alleviate that requirement in the future.

Meanwhile, Florida has been a top destination for travelers throughout the pandemic. And this trend has only grown with news of vaccines: many Americans plan to tick a visit to Disney World off their bucket list this year.

As for when all bucket list trips might happen remains up in the air. To keep travelers in the know about border re-openings, changing requirements, and new guidelines, TripIt Pro now enables users to research pandemic-related information for destinations ahead of booking a trip. As a Pro user, you can search our COVID-19 Travel Guidance feature for the latest guidelines, restrictions, and requirements for the places you’re planning to visit without needing them to be part of a TripIt itinerary. This includes current infection rates, quarantine rules upon arrival, testing requirements, and other information travelers need to know before visiting the area. 

Methodology: TripIt surveyed more than 3,200 U.S.-based users to understand their 2021 travel plans. The survey took place in December 2020.