Americans Planning Dream Vacations for First Post-Pandemic Trip

Americans Planning Dream Vacations for First Post-Pandemic Trip

Over half of survey respondents said their "bucket list" trip is up next
Hiking views on Kauai

With COVID-19 infection rates falling and vaccination opportunities widely available, Americans have begun looking forward to traveling again. Even though some international travel may be restricted because of the pandemic, travelers are still dreaming big when it comes to planning their next trip.

According to a survey commissioned by international hotel chain Hilton, over half of Americans (59%) intend to resume their travels with a bucket list vacation they wouldn’t have considered before the pandemic. An even higher percentage (64%) said that they were in desperate need of a vacation.

Most travelers plan to stay in the country

Global patterns of trade and travel are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and vacations are no exception. Over half of the respondents surveyed by Hilton (57%) said that they would feel more staying in the U.S. for their first post-pandemic vacation.

Travelers plan on visiting some popular tourist destinations: Honolulu (29%), New York City (25%) and Las Vegas (24%) top the list of locations listed by survey respondents. Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco and San Diego were also included on many wish lists.

Survey respondents also indicated that the ability to reconnect with family and friends would be a priority when planning their vacations. Indeed, 40% said that they intend to visit family that they haven’t seen during the pandemic, and 38% noted that spending quality time with loved ones was among the things that they miss most about traveling.

Some Americans are hoping to travel abroad

International travel may look a lot different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic, but some Americans are undeterred: Several destinations abroad, particularly in Europe, were on travelers’ wish lists. Italy (26%) was the most popular country, followed by the U.K. (24%), France (20%) and Greece (18%).

As for specific cities that travelers wished to visit, European destinations also topped the list:


A key draw for many survey respondents is the cultural experience abroad. According to Phil Cordell, the global brand head of Canopy by Hilton, "[Guests] want to immerse themselves in the culture of their destination, as evidenced by 29% of those surveyed who wanted access to explore the nearby area and city and almost 1 in 5 wanting to feel like a local."

Still, traveling internationally likely requires taking a flight to your destination, and according to a May 2021 ValuePenguin survey, some would-be travelers aren’t quite ready for either. The survey found that 44% of respondents reported not being up for leaving the country, while 27% said they didn’t feel they could fly just yet.

Planning longer, more expensive vacations

Hilton’s survey determined that just over a quarter (26%) of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in over a year, at the time of the survey, but significantly more say that they’re planning a bigger trip than they would have planned in the past. Nearly 3 in 5 respondents (59%) plan to stay at their destination longer, and 46% plan on traveling further.

Almost half (49%) of the survey respondents said that they saved money for a dream vacation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and over half (55%) plan on spending more than they usually would on their next trip since they haven’t traveled in a while. That added budget came to an average of $2,173.11 among those surveyed by Hilton.

A previous survey by American Express showed that 76% of its respondents had made a travel wish list, so that dream vacation may have been a long-standing idea. But with the world opening up more, it looks like many travelers want to finally make their dreams a reality.

Methodology: Market research company OnePoll conducted an online survey of 2,000 nationally representative American adults on behalf of Hilton; the data was collected in May 2021. All participants are paid an amount depending on the length and complexity of the survey. This survey was overseen and edited in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct by the OnePoll research team, who are members of the MRS.