Road Trips Top American Travel Plans

The European Union announced Tuesday that Americans will be refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the United States. 

But many Americans have no interest in leaving their state, much less the country, according to several studies. Among those willing to travel, there is a high interest in road trips, family events and long weekends.

With the pandemic still top of mind, 56% of Americans say they have cancelled all travel plans for the rest of the year, according to a survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Among the 44% of Americans planning to travel in 2020, 59% expect to take their first overnight trip by the end of the summer. Summer road trips will take center stage, with 72% planning an overnight vacation via car over the next five months. Of these, 75% expect to drive two or more hours.



On their next overnight trip, Morning Consult found 43% plan to stay with family and friends, and 39% plan to stay in a hotel; just 9% plan to stay at a short-term rental such as Airbnb or VRBO, and 5% in a camper or RV. Nearly eight in ten (78%) are planning a trip of four days or less, suggesting long-weekend trips will be first vacation travel to return.

Fifty-five percent plan to travel for a family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, or family reunion; 50% plan to travel for Christmas, 43% for Thanksgiving, 33% for 4th of July, and 30% for Labor Day.

Meanwhille, research consultancy Magid found 35% of consumers plan on spending less on travel than before the pandemic. Fifty-percent of consumers would rather take a road trip than a flight when traveling, with 73% saying they are comfortable traveling within the state they live, while 65% reported being comfortable traveling regionally.

Consumers believe the virus is easily spread through interacting with travel sectors, with airplanes (69%) and airports (68%) considered the biggest spreaders. 

Still, within the next 12 months, 59% of consumers expect to take a domestic flight for leisure and 56% for business, while 67% expect to stay in a hotel overnight for a leisure trip, Magid found.

As for hotels, the budget sector overall is likely to fare better than luxury -- at least for the balance of 2020, contingent upon achieving and sustaining operational safeguards required for guest safety, says David Bilicic, senior vice president at Magid.

Trust in travel brands is declining despite the marketing messaging, Bilicic says.

“People want to see visible proof of actions being taken to keep them safe,”  he says. “It is less about telling travelers what is being done and more about showing them. Positive experiences and exceeding expectations will result in positive word of mouth, which will resonate better than mass media campaigns with dramatic music and stock photography.”

The Morning Consult survey was conducted online June 16-19 among a national sample of 2,200 adults. Results among those who plan to travel in 2020 have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The Magid survey was conducted online June 2-7 among a national sample of 1,000 adults. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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