Stats: Half of Americans Plan to Travel During the Holidays

The latest travelhorizons survey, conducted by MMGY Travel Intelligence, found that the travel industry is likely to get a significant boost over the holidays. The survey found that half of respondents intend to take trips between November and early January, with 25 percent traveling for Thanksgiving, 31 percent traveling for the December holidays and 15 percent for New Year’s celebrations. 

The holiday season is being met with optimism, as 67 percent of those who will travel indicated that they are enthusiastic about their upcoming trips. Much of that fervor is from Millennial travelers. Thirty-five percent will travel for Thanksgiving, compared to only 23 percent of Gen X, 18 percent of young Boomers and 8 percent of older Boomers. For the December holidays, Millennials also led other generations with 43 percent planning to travel, while only 26 percent of Gen X, 19 percent of younger Boomers and 8 percent of older Boomers will travel.

It is unsurprising that 45 percent of holiday travelers plan to visit with family and friends. For accommodations, 42 percent of travelers expect to stay with the family and friends they're visiting. Nonetheless, there is some good news for the lodging industry as 36 percent of travelers intend to stay at a hotel, 20 percent at a resort, and 17 percent at a bed and breakfast or in a short-term rental.

A significant number of travelers intend to take trips beyond visits to the homes of friends and family. Other types of planned travel include couples’ vacations (23 percent), solo vacations (20 percent), family leisure vacations (25 percent) and multigenerational trips (15 percent). Though these trip types vary, the overwhelming majority will be domestic U.S. trips (88 percent) while only 20 percent say they will visit an international destination. Regarding domestic trips, 52 percent replied they will travel between 100 and 499 miles from home, and 27 percent will travel between 500 and 999 miles for their vacations. 

Private vehicles remain the preferred mode of transportation (45 percent personal vehicle; 16 percent rental vehicle; and 11 percent RV/camper). There is, however, growing confidence in the safety of public transportation, with 38 percent opting to book a flight, 14 percent choosing a train and 13 percent riding a bus for their holiday travels.

While there is a clear interest in travel, 50 percent of respondents who expect to stay put for the holidays cite concerns over their own health (38 percent), the health of family and friends with whom they would typically travel (33 percent), and the health of family and friends they expect to visit (28 percent) as their top reasons for not traveling. The socioeconomic impact of the pandemic was of lesser concern, with just 5 percent of would-be travelers expressing concerns about job security and 14 percent saying they’re concerned about household finances. Notably, 11 percent of respondents believed that there would be a diminished visitor experience in destinations they normally visit. 

The latest wave of the survey was conducted October 12–25, 2020, among 1,073 American respondents who plan to take at least one leisure trip during the next six months.

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