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.

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 deep dive on which industries will see a post-pandemic boom in consumer demand.


Roughly Half of U.S. Adults Feel Comfortable Taking a Vacation, Down Slightly 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 hit 43 percent by the end of February before falling in March, but then climbed 2 to 3 percentage points a week for four weeks to reach 52 percent as of mid-April. Forty-nine percent of respondents in the latest survey said they’d feel safe going on vacation, within the poll’s margin of error. 

Americans More Comfortable With Renting Cars Than Traveling via Planes, Trains, Buses: Fifty-one percent of U.S. adults said they currently feel safe renting a car, an increase of 3 points week over week following two weeks of stagnation. Comfort with planes did not change from last week, but trains and buses saw small increases. 

Major Hotel Chains Garner Highest Comfort Levels of Travel Accommodations: Forty-six percent of adults said they would feel safe booking a stay at a major chain, roughly the same share who said so in late March and early April. Thirty-eight percent expressed comfort with staying at boutique hotels, and 34 percent with home-sharing venues such as Airbnbs — shares that have not changed significantly for the past few weeks.

Consumers Most Eager to Resume Vacations and Road Trips: Between travel, dining out and shopping at malls, consumers are most excited about eventually going on vacations again. Sixty percent said they’re excited to go on vacation after the pandemic is under control, with 54 percent looking forward to road trips in particular. Hotels are close behind, with 44 percent saying they’re excited to book a stay, and plane rides catching up at 41 percent. Read more here.

Comfort With Taking a Vacation Dips After Four Weeks of Record Highs
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 Persists Between Major Hotel Chains and Boutiques, Home Sharing
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%.

60% of Consumers Excited for Vacations, Especially Road Trips
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 April 15-18, 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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