Despite the ongoing pandemic, winter travel appears to be much more popular this year than last, with 122 million adults saying they intend to take some sort of trip during the holiday season.
That's according to the 2021 Christmas Travel Survey from travel information site The Vacationer. Note that respondents were questioned about their plans before news of the COVID-19 omicron variant broke.
But if the results prove at least somewhat accurate, the number of winter travelers will increase by a steep 42% compared to 2020.
Travel by numbers
By some measures, travel could be on track to reach closer to 2019 numbers, with the survey showing 47% of American adults intend to travel this season.
A separate report from The Vacationer said that compared to a year ago, more than 1 million travelers are going through TSA checkpoints on most days.
The survey also found that…
- 61% plan to travel by car
- 13% plan to travel by plane
- 35% plan to travel more than 100 miles
As for the activities planned, the most popular included...
- Sharing a meal with friends or family (74%)
- Participating in a gift exchange (65%)
- Attending a holiday party (33%)
- Attending a religious service (25%)
How does the omicron variant figure in?
The results of the Christmas survey were gathered in October, before health authorities reported the surfacing of a new COVID-19 variant known as "omicron." As a result, holiday plans could be significantly impacted, whether due to increased travel regulations or consumers' concerns about the virus.
But if past holidays are an indicator, the number of travelers may not change by a large margin. In August, for example, the Vacationer’s Labor Day Travel survey found a majority of respondents were worried about spreading or contracting COVID-19 during travel, but they still planned to leave home.
In fact, some of the planned activities mentioned above could raise the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Adults over 60 were the most likely to say they would have a meal with friends and family or attend a religious service. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that people in this age group postpone travel to certain areas due to concerns over the omicron variant.
Likewise, not all celebrants plan to take safety measures that could reduce the risk of transmission. Only 33% said they would refrain from celebrating with unvaccinated friends or family members, while 20% said they would celebrate someone who is unvaccinated if that person had a negative test.
Methodology: This Christmas Travel 2021 Survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of The Vacationer. In total, 1,092 Americans over the age of 18 were polled on Oct. 17. ValuePenguin has rounded the results from the survey to the nearest whole number.