Tracking the Return to Normal: Travel

Morning Consult is tracking how safe Americans feel traveling in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
By: Alyssa Meyers


This tracker is part of a series from Morning Consult gauging when consumers will return to normal activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more and sign up for alerts.

When the pandemic first hit the United States last year, the travel industry ground to a halt. Over the summer, people started to venture out again, mostly sticking to road trips close to home. Thanksgiving and winter holidays then saw significant traffic despite pleas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Americans to stay at home, but recovery in the travel market remains out of immediate reach. While many are eager to reschedule vacations, comfort with the idea of doing so remained stagnant through 2020.


Comfort With Vacations Spikes to Reach Fourth Record High This Year: Since April 2020, Morning Consult has asked consumers if they feel comfortable going on vacation, and the share had rarely moved above 33 percent through mid-January. However, that share inched up through February, reaching 43 percent as of the end of the month and setting a new record for the category yet again.

Americans More Comfortable With Renting Cars Than Traveling via Planes, Trains, Buses: Forty-eight percent of U.S. adults said they currently feel safe renting a car, a figure that has slightly fluctuated early this year and jumped seven percentage points from last week. Though most comfortable driving, comfort with planes, trains and buses is inching up, with more than a quarter of respondents saying they currently feel comfortable with each of those three options.

Major Hotel Chains Garner Higher Comfort Levels Than Boutiques, Home Sharing, but Boutiques Are Catching Up: Americans are about as comfortable staying at major hotels as they are taking vacations in general. Forty-one percent of adults said they would feel safe booking a stay at a major chain, a share that remained mostly flat in February, but increased by six percentage points as of the latest survey. Thirty-five percent expressed comfort with staying at boutique hotels, closing a gap between those two options that was wider last month. Thirty-one percent said they would feel comfortable at a home-sharing venue such as an Airbnb, up from 29 percent last week.

Comfort With Taking a Vacation Reaches New Record High for Fourth Time in 2021
The share of respondents who said they feel comfortable going on vacation right now:
Weekly surveys are conducted among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults and have a margin of error of +/-2%.

Americans Most Comfortable With Road Trips, Car Rentals
The share of adults who said they feel comfortable doing the following activities right now:
Weekly surveys are conducted among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults and have a margin of error of +/-2%.

41% of Consumers Feel Safe Staying at a Major Hotel Chain, More Than Other Vacation Options
The share of adults who said they feel comfortable staying at the following accommodations right now:
Weekly surveys are conducted among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults and have a margin of error of +/-2%.

Tracking the Return to Normal

When will things return to normal and what will our new normal look like? It’s a question that business, economic and government leaders are grappling with as more and more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

To help answer this complicated question, Morning Consult is tracking how consumer attitudes are shifting across a wide range of categories, from travel to entertainment to dining, to gain greater insight into not only when consumers will be ready to return to their normal activities, but how their habits will be forever changed. We’ll be updating these pages every week with new data and analyses. Sign up for alerts below.


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