After a year stuck at home, the majority of US consumers, 70%, say they want to start traveling again, with more than 50% planning one to two vacations in the next six months, according to Discover’s annual travel survey.
Following a stressful and socially distant year, 66% of consumers are planning trips between one to six days in length and report their top reasons for wanting to take a vacation are:
- To relax (37%)
- Visit family and friends (18%)
- Experience a change of scenery (10%)
Of those looking to spend time with family, Boomers lead the charge, 28%, compared to 18% of Gen X, 12% of millennials and 9% of Gen Z. The survey found Gen Z is looking for adventure while traveling, 21%, compared to 12% of millennials, 10% of Gen X and 7% of Boomers.
When polled in April, 42% of consumers said they already felt comfortable traveling, and 12% said they would feel comfortable traveling when vaccines were widely available to everyone in the US.
“It’s clear consumers have a strong desire to travel again as we head into the summer months and the economic recovery continues,” said Jacob Ayoub, vice president of consumer and competitive insights at Discover. “We know travel trends and consumer needs are going to continue to shift, but it’s important to note that right now U.S. consumers are considering costs, flexibility, and the spread of COVID-19 while traveling.”
Health and safety top of mind for travellers
Eighty percent of consumers say it’s important to find travel accommodations with strict COVID-19 hygiene protocols – and it appears this trend isn’t going away.
In the next six months, 74% of consumers reported they will continue to prioritize the cleanliness rating of their accommodation when deciding where to stay. Consumers also said they’re more likely to splurge on pricey accommodations and travel options if it means they have strict COVID-19 hygiene protocols, 50%, and consumers also say they are more likely to invest in priority travel passes to avoid crowds, 49%.
When it comes to wearing masks, nearly two in three consumers say they will continue to wear them while traveling, even after it’s no longer required. Of those wearing masks, 39% say they’ll continue to wear them in public spaces, like a hotel or resort, and 36% say they will wear masks when at a transportation hub, such as an airport or bus station.
Consumers favor cost-effective methods of travel that allow more control
When deciding where to vacation, consumers report the cost of their destination, 87%, and the flexibility of cancellation policies, 86%, are the most important factors, outranking the spread of COVID-19 variants, 80%, and the number of positive COVID-19 cases, 80%, in a destination area.
Sixty-two percent of consumers say they are hesitant to take modes of transportation where they have to be near others. Over half of US consumers are planning to drive to their next destination, with just 39% reporting they’ll fly. Most consumers report plans to take a road trip in the next six months, 29%, followed by a beach vacation, 21%.
For six in 10 respondents, these trips may be closer to home as consumers say they’re more likely to travel locally than take large trips across the country.
Credit cards are preferred payment method
Fifty-five percent of consumers cite credit cards as their preferred method of payment while on vacation – a 16 percentage point increase from Discover’s 2019 travel survey.
Additionally, given the pandemic’s impact on travel and the need to avoid touching as many surfaces as possible, 56% of consumers say they will leverage contactless payments more frequently while traveling. With credit card points and rewards stacking up the past year, about one-third of consumers say they’re planning to redeem their rewards for vacation-related expenses.