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. But as we now enter the summer months of 2021 with less stringent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many Americans seem ready to travel again — a positive sign for one of the industries hit hardest by lockdown orders and the reluctance of weary customers. 

Morning Consult is tracking pent-up demand and excitement for many of the activities listed on this page. Bookmark this page for weekly updates of these figures, and read our new Summer Travel Series, which dives into Americans’ and Europeans’ appetites for travel, how they’re planning their trips and much more.


61% of U.S. Adults Feel Comfortable Taking a Vacation, Down From Last Week: 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. It mostly climbed from February through May, reaching 64 percent by the end of last month. However, as of the latest survey in early June, that number fell 3 percentage points to 61 percent. The share of millennials who said they feel comfortable vacationing increased 6 points to 68 percent, while the share of baby boomers who said they agree fell 4 points to 59 percent.

Americans Most Comfortable Traveling in Cars: 59 percent of U.S. adults said they currently feel safe renting a car, and about 3 in 4 (76 percent) said they’re comfortable taking a road trip, making cars the preferred method of transportation over trains, planes and buses. Trains are the next most popular option, with 44 percent of Americans indicating they’re comfortable traveling that way. Forty-three percent of consumers said they’re comfortable with domestic flights, but only 29 percent feel safe flying internationally.

Major Hotel Chains Garner Highest Comfort Level Among Travel Accommodations: 57 percent of adults said they would feel safe booking a stay at a major chain, while 49 percent expressed comfort with staying at boutique hotels. Neither share changed from late May to early June, as big-name hotels continue to prove more popular among Americans. Comfort with home-sharing through platforms such as Airbnb trails at 40 percent, down 3 points from last week.

Consumers Most Eager to Resume Vacations, Road Trips: Between travel, dining out and shopping at malls, consumers are most excited about eventually going on vacations again. Fifty-nine percent said they’re excited to go on vacation after the pandemic is under control, with 53 percent looking forward to road trips in particular. Hotels and planes are not far behind: 48 percent said they’re excited to book a stay, while 41 percent said they are excited to take a flight. All of those shares have decreased slightly from late May.

Comfort With Taking a Vacation Dips to 61%
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%.

Gap in Comfort Between Boutique Hotels and Major Chains Persists
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%.

59% of Consumers Are Excited to Vacation Again
Adults were asked how excited they are about the opportunity to do each of the following once the pandemic is under control and the economy has fully reopened
Survey conducted June 3-6, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults with 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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