Move over staycations, Americans are ready for a (serious) change of scenery. Last month we asked almost 2,000 U.S.-based travelers about their 2021 travel plans—and 97 percent said they’re planning a trip this year. And by this year we mean right now. Indeed, more than half of travelers (54 percent) said they’d be ready to fly domestically by June.
Both of those figures rose slightly from survey data we released in March—and reflect Americans’ steadily increasing confidence in returning to travel.
As for why Americans want to travel, vacations are still number one. But that revenge travel trend we’re all hearing about plays a role, too: One third of travelers (33 percent) told us they’re planning to take a trip they had to reschedule due to the pandemic. Of those, 8 percent plan to sail away on a rescheduled cruise.
So, are vaccines buoying traveler confidence? Will vaccines plus travel credits plus pent-up desire expedite the current travel resurgence? Let’s see what else travelers had to say.
How vaccines are shaping traveler readiness
Almost all Americans plan to travel this year. How does that stand up to their pre-COVID travel behavior? Our survey data showed that almost half (47 percent) of respondents plan to travel more than or about the same as they did prior to COVID-19.
For those who plan to travel more, vaccines were the top reason people would feel comfortable traveling. Our survey data also showed being vaccinated was the top need for travelers to feel comfortable flying (56 percent of travelers), outranking herd immunity at 37 percent. (Here’s where we tell you 28 percent of travelers feel comfortable flying right now—and don’t have any further needs in order to board a plane today.)
Are vaccinated Americans making travel plans?
In short, yes—and they’re in the majority. Sixty-eight percent of respondents who’ve been vaccinated have booked a trip since getting their shot(s) or plan to book soon.
We also asked those travelers who had not yet been vaccinated at the time of the survey—but are planning to be—about their intended travel plans. Two-thirds of those travelers (66 percent) said they plan to book a trip after being vaccinated. Just 8 percent of travelers planning to get vaccinated do not plan to travel this year.
For those who are vaccinated and planning to travel, road trips still reign for summer. As for air travel, our data shows a steady increase in interest with more than half of vaccinated travelers (54 percent) saying they’d be ready to fly domestically by next month.
And that number just continues to climb: By September, 76 percent of vaccinated travelers said they’d be ready for a domestic flight; that number grows to 88 percent by December.
Conversely, at the time of the survey, 19 percent of vaccinated travelers said they’d be ready for an international flight by next month. Thirty-five percent of vaccinated travelers said they’d be ready for an international flight by September. And come April 2022, we see more than 80 percent of vaccinated travelers ready for an international flight.
Traveler confidence is up, concerns are down
Our survey data revealed that travel concerns are generally reducing, with less than one quarter of all respondents expressing concern about each of the myriad aspects of travel.
Of those travelers who did express concerns, staying current on travel restrictions and guidelines and knowing how to modify reservations were the top concerns—with the latter down 21 percent from our previous survey. Concerns around understanding vaccine and infection rates and infecting friends or family upon returning from a trip were also down, dropping 27 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
Our data did reveal a new concern: One in four travelers said uncertainty about the rules for those who are and aren’t vaccinated concerned them about the next time they travel.
As we’ve already seen, rules will vary based on vaccination status: Many of the countries that are lifting restrictions for Americans are doing so for vaccinated travelers. And yet, of those not planning to get vaccinated—just 7 percent of survey respondents—some expressed intent to travel. When and how some international destinations plan to welcome unvaccinated travelers remain uncertain.
With more than 260 million shots now in Americans’ arms, it seems travelers’ top need to return to the skies is being met. Will it translate to a sustained travel resurgence? That’s what the data suggests. But, we’ll wait to call it a comeback until the rubber meets the road—or the tarmac, depending on your mode of transport.
Methodology: TripIt surveyed 1,960 U.S.-based users to understand their 2021 travel plans. The survey took place in April 2021.