In a time of crisis, connecting with loved ones is more important than ever, but sadly during the coronavirus pandemic, spending time with family and friends isn't possible for many people. It comes as little surprise that Americans are eager to visit with family and friends once it is safer to travel.
When ValuePenguin commissioned an online survey of over 1,200 Americans they found that 61% of respondents will plan their first trip once travel restrictions are lifted to visit family and friends. Vacation planning is picking up again as well, with 17% already seeking out potential destinations. Let's take a closer look at how survey respondents are planning upcoming trips despite the uncertain travel climate we're currently experiencing and how travelers may be able to get the most bang for their buck with travel credit cards, points and miles and travel insurance.
- First upcoming trips will revolve around family and friends: 47% of Americans said the first trip they'll take when travel restrictions are lifted will be to visit family. Visiting friends came in second at 14%.
- Florida (13%), California (12%) and New York (8%) will be the first states respondents visit as travel restrictions are lifted. Other popular destinations include Texas (5%) and New Jersey (4%).
- Many consumers have already begun researching their next vacation, mainly seeking out potential destinations (17%), flight routes (14%) and hotels (10%). Very few have begun looking into restaurants or entertainment options.
- On average, Americans plan to spend $737 on their upcoming trip. Gen Xers will spend more than other age groups, and parents of kids under 18 plan to shell out more than $1,000.
- Just 23% plan to purchase travel insurance on their next trip. Men were more than twice as likely as women to say they'd purchase some form of trip protection.
- 1 in 5 consumers will spend part of their economic impact check on travel. That number jumps to more than a third of Gen Xers and about a quarter of millennials.
Consumers eager to visit family and friends, many researching next vacation
After a forced separation, many Americans are ready to spend some quality time with their nearest and dearest. Almost half of those surveyed reported the first trip they plan to take once travel restrictions are lifted will be to visit their family. The second top travel priority appears to be visiting friends (14%).
When it comes time to hit the road, consumers most commonly plan to head to Florida (13%), California (12%) and New York (8%). Two other popular destinations include the great states of Texas (5%) and New Jersey (4%).
Some travelers are already researching their future vacation options. 17% have already begun investigating potential destinations and 14% are even looking into their flight options.
Pandemic won't affect most travelers' future vacation spending
When it comes to future vacation spending, plans and budgets run the gambit. While the majority of Americans don't anticipate the coronavirus pandemic will affect their future vacation spending, not everyone is in the same boat. 19% reported they plan to spend less due to financial impacts of the virus, but a lucky 15% are expecting to spend more money on travel in the future since they haven't been able to travel recently.
On average, $737 is the amount Americans plan to spend on their first trip. Men in particular plan to spend more than women, and Gen Xers are planning on spending the most money on travel. In order to fund these travels, 1 in 5 consumers will spend a portion of their economic impact check.
Brett Holzhauer, travel rewards expert at ValuePenguin, wasn't all that shocked to hear so many consumers won't allow the COVID-19 crisis to affect their travel budgets, "We live in such a fast-paced society that when people's lives get interrupted, we don't take that very lightly, let's put it that way. We love convenience. We like things now."
About 1 in 4 will cash in on rewards points or miles to fund their next vacation
Whether or not your budget was impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, it can be very appealing to utilize rewards points or miles to pay for a relaxing getaway. It seems that around 26% of consumers will use their rewards points or miles to fund their next vacation. Men plan to use points more than women do to fund upcoming vacations, and Gen Xers plan to do so more than Millenials do.
Cashing in on travel rewards can be a savvy way to save on a trip, especially since some travel vendors like airlines and hotels are extending the life of their points and status rankings due to the pandemic. Some hotels are extending 2020 elite status past the end of this year. Hilton for example, is extending 2020 elite status through March 31, 2022.
Despite the fact that your favorite rewards program may be extra accommodating right now, Holzhauer warned against planning your trip around specific vendors. "Don't be brand loyal. I think that's the biggest mistake that travelers make."
He noted that many travelers get attached to their go-to travel brands, especially hotels, but that it's worth working with whoever is offering the best deals and rewards. "Not being brand loyal will help travelers a lot, that will make these brands continue to fight for your business and make the travelling experience better," Holzhauer said.
Most consumers won't purchase travel insurance
Many travelers had trips unexpectedly cancelled because of COVID-19 travel restrictions in recent months. However, despite the financial loss and inconvenience, many consumers aren't planning to insure future trips. Only 23% of consumers intend to buy travel insurance for their next trip. Once again, men and Gen Xers are leading the way and plan to buy the most travel insurance.
Why aren't travelers more eager to insure future trips after the recent disaster of canceled flights and border closures? Holzhauer suspects that this trend all comes down to cost. He feels that unless you're travelling first class, travel isn't typically all that expensive. Insuring a trip (especially a quick weekend one) is similar to insuring an old car that is on its last leg. "I wouldn't blame travelers for not getting travel insurance. It's very confusing, it's very intimidating and the overall chances of something going wrong during your travels is pretty low," he said.
Instead Holzhauer recommends taking advantage of perks associated with travel credit cards. "I think that a lot of consumers forget that travel credit cards come with complimentary travel insurance simply by using their card. So for consumers to have more protection and possibly get more rewards for their travel purchases and daily purchases, having that complimentary coverage wouldn't hurt by any means," Holzhauer noted.
What to know about traveling amid coronavirus pandemic
When it comes time to actually travel, you may be looking at a different experience than you've had in the past. If you're flying, Holzhauer suggests reviewing your specific airport's website, as well as the TSA's website, before heading to the airport to make sure that you have a picture of what the experience will look like. Security and health safety measures will likely vary by airport. "The experience will be different. Airports are going to be changing how much human interaction there is," which may include changes like checking your own bag, Holzhauer noted.
In regards to health matters, Holzhauer recommends consulting your doctor or a medical expert about your travel risk if you have concerns, especially if you'll be travelling by air or public transportation. That being said, if you feel it is safe to travel, Holzhauer predicts there may be ample opportunity to do so and score some deals in the future. "There is going to be a ton of opportunity in terms of airlines offering promotions, hotels offering promotions, so this is the time to strike if you feel safe from a health perspective and want to continue traveling," Holzhauer said.
While there are risks associated with travelling right now, it is understandable why so many Americans are yearning to begin traveling again. Holzhauer captured the sentiment perfectly: "Traveling is always a risk, but it is very likely that the reward is on the other side of that risk."
ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,249 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded April 22-24, 2020.
We defined generations as the following ages in 2020:
- Gen Z are ages 18-23
- Millennials are ages 24-39
- Gen X are ages 40-54
- Baby boomers are ages 55-74
- Silent generation are ages 75 and older