In a survey of over 10,000 Americans, Harvest Hosts has found that they have plans of increased travel this year. Most Americans, according to the study, are planning to travel more this year than they did in 2019—before the pandemic even hit. What’s different now is that travelers’ values and priorities are shifting—focusing on safety, cost-effectiveness and more accommodating travel options—and, because of this, RV travel has skyrocketed.
Here are the key findings from the survey with a roadmap for what to expect in travel this year:
Americans Are Planning to Travel More This Year Than 2020 and 2019
While it’s unsurprising that most people (76 percent) are planning to travel more than they did in 2020, planned travel is also exceeding 2019 numbers: Seventy-six percent of respondents said they plan to travel more than they did in 2020, while 60 percent of respondents said they plan to travel more than they did in 2019 before the pandemic.
Fewer than one-quarter of respondents (24 percent) said they plan to travel “a normal amount,” with no changes from 2019, and 13 percent of Americans said they plan to travel some, but less than they did in 2019. Only 2 percent of respondents said they plan not to travel in 2021.
Fewer Than One-Quarter of Consumers Will Fly
People don’t currently feel safe flying, opting instead for the safety of road travel. Consumers are not seeing hotels as appealing options, either. To that end, more than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) do not feel safe getting on a plane; just 21 percent said they plan to travel on a plane this year.
Further, 56 percent of total respondents said they do not feel safe staying at a hotel and 81 percent of total respondents said they plan to not travel internationally at all in 2021.
Increased Interest in Road and RV Travel
With people hesitant to fly, Harvest Hosts reports that they will use RVs. Currently, there are 11 million RV owners in the U.S., but many more—46 million in total—are planning to RV this year alone, continuing the upward trend.
Of note: A vast majority of respondents (99 percent) said they feel safe traveling in an RV and 53 percent are planning to only travel using RVs this year. Of people planning to travel by road, 61 percent plan to travel over 500 miles and 34 percent plan to travel “moderately far” (100 to 500 miles).
Increased road travel has provided more opportunity for Americans to visit states and areas they might not have otherwise. The most popular states visited in RVs were California, Florida, Arizona, Texas and Oregon. On the other hand, the least popular states to visit were Wyoming, South Carolina, South Dakota, Alaska and Alabama
Helping Local Businesses
The impact on the travel industry during COVID-19 quickly became apparent. In turn, fallout from the decline in travel as a result of the pandemic was felt by local businesses who rely on travel and tourism for a majority of their revenue. As people travel in RVs, they are able to safely support these businesses without breaking the bank. In fact, Harvest Hosts reports that nearly $25 million was spent at local businesses across the country in 2020, which helped keep them afloat.
How that happened: When staying somewhere with their RV, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) spend on average two or three nights where they are spending money on food, wine, services and other items. Ninety-four percent of people typically spend less than $75 each night when traveling via RV, which is much less than a typical hotel stay, but can make a big difference for an independent farm or winery.
More Accommodating Travel Means More Family Time—Pets Included
Hotels that are open to pets are few and far between, and with airlines, there have been changes made regarding emotional support animals, adding another layer of complexity that can be avoided with RV travel. When traveling with family, bringing kids can also add additional expenses, and these issues are virtually eliminated with RVs.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they would take their children on RV trips and 71 percent of total respondents said they would take their pets RVing. Additionally, 85 percent of respondents said they would plan an RV trip with friends, even during the pandemic if traveling in separate vehicles.
Harvest Hosts is a membership club for RVers offering overnight stays at 1,800-plus farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, golf courses, museums and other scenic small businesses across North America.
To learn more, visit www.harvesthosts.com.