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      Christmas Travel Survey 2021 — Mode of Transportation, How Far, Spending, Activities, Comparison to Last Year

      Eric Jones
      Christmas Travel Survey 2021

      According to our 2021 Holiday Travel Survey, 161 million American adults or nearly 63% of people will travel this holiday season. The survey showed 122 million American adults plan to travel for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa (over 47% of respondents). The 122 million includes 52 million American adults that will travel for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa only. It also includes 70 million people who intend to travel for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Last year’s Christmas survey showed 33.46% intended to travel to a vacation destination or gathering. This year’s figure shows 47.39% intend to travel, which is a 41.63% increase.

      This Christmas Travel Survey is the third part in our holiday series. It follows our general Holiday Travel Survey as well as our 2021 Thanksgiving Travel Survey. In part three we sought to see what people were planning for Christmas travel and activities. What will be the primary mode of transportation? How far will people travel for Christmas this year? How much will people spend? What activities will Americans take part in this year? Below we have analyzed these questions as well as demographic data.

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Plane. — 12.72%
      • Car. — 60.75%
      • Public Transportation. — 3.93%
      • None. — 22.60%
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      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Men are nearly 1.5 times more likely than women to fly on a plane for Christmas this year. 15.31% of men said they would fly on an airplane for Christmas. On the other hand, only 10.42% of women will. Men are also more than 1.7 times more likely to take public transportation. 5.04% of men will take public transportation while only 2.95% of women will. Women are more likely to travel by car or say they will not travel at all for the December holidays.

      Key Takeaway — Nearly 13% of all American adults will travel by plane to their Christmas gathering or destination. This figure represents almost 33 million people. It is also 6 million people more than the amount that said they would travel by plane in our Thanksgiving travel survey. With new mutated COVID strains being reported, it will be interesting see if everyone follows through with their plans.

      Further Reading — Check out our Best & Worst Days to Fly for Christmas 2021 guide.

      How far will you travel for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa this year?

      How far will you travel for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa this year?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • 0 Miles. — 28.00%
      • 1 to 99 Miles. — 37.15%
      • 100 to 499 Miles. — 19.30%
      • 500 to 999 Miles. — 7.78%
      • 1,000 Miles or More. — 7.78%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — People in the Pacific Region are most likely to travel 1,000 miles or more for Christmas. 10% of people in the Pacific region stated this. The Pacific Region contains the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii. On the other hand, people from the East South Central Region are least likely to travel 1,000 miles or more. Only 3.28% of people in this region said this. The East South Central Region has the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. The Mountain region is the most likely to have people say they will travel 0 miles. This region contains Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. And, 42.68% of these people said they will travel 0 miles.

      Key Takeaway — Nearly 35% of American adults will travel at least 100 miles for Christmas in 2021. This equates to 90 million people. Additionally, almost 16% of American adults will travel 500 miles or more. This equates to 40 million people. Lastly, nearly 8% of American adults will travel 1,000 miles or more for Christmas. This means 20 million people will travel at least 1,000 miles for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa.

      How much will you spend to travel for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa this year? (gas, flights, hotels, tickets, etc.)

      How much will you spend to travel for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa this year?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • $0. — 36.41%
      • $500 or Less. — 40.26%
      • $501 to $1,000. — 11.07%
      • $1,001 to $1,500. — 5.58%
      • $1,501 to $2,000. — 3.02%
      • $2,000 or More. — 3.66%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — American adults over age 60 are the most likely to spend $0 to travel for Christmas. 47.52% of people in the over 60 age group said this. It should not come as a surprise since many older relatives tend to host the holidays and thus won’t travel. Also, many family members will be sure to pick up their older parents and grandparents on the way to a holiday gathering. Therefore, many over 60 will not have to spend any money even if they leave their home. Conversely, the youngest age group of people aged 18-29 are the least likely to spend $0 for Christmas travel this year. Only 27.84% of people in this age bracket said they would spend $0.

      Key Takeaway — More than 23% of American adults said they will spend over $500 for Christmas travel in 2021. This percent equates to 60 million people. Additionally, 12.26% of American adults or nearly 32 million people will spend over $1,000. Lastly, 3.66% or more than 9 million people will spend $2,000 or more on Christmas travel this year.

      Which Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa activities will you take part in this year? (Check All that Apply Except If You Are Checking the Last Choice.)

      Which Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa activities will you take part in this year?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Meal with Friends or Family. — 73.74%
      • Gift Exchange.  — 65.42%
      • Holiday Party. — 32.57%
      • Decorating Your Home. — 52.79%
      • Baking Cookies or Other Sweet Treats. — 48.40%
      • Attending a Religious Service.  — 24.79%
      • Caroling or Singing. — 9.88%
      • Lighting Candles. — 17.47%
      • Seeing Lights. — 40.16%
      • Volunteering.  — 12.26%
      • A Family Tradition. — 38.06%
      • None of these. (If checking this choice, check nothing else.) — 6.13%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — American adults over 60 were the most likely to say they would be having a meal with friends and family this year. 83.06% of these survey respondents said this. Additionally, the oldest generation of Americans over 60 are also most likely to attend a religious service or volunteer this holiday season. On the other hand, the youngest generation of those aged 18-29 is least likely to attend a religious service or volunteer. 30.17% of Americans over age 60 said they will attend a religious service while only 16.85% of those aged 18-29 will. 14.46% of Americans over age 60 said they will volunteer while only 9.16% of those aged 18-29 will.

      Key Takeaway — Almost 3 out of every 4 American adults or 190 million people will have a meal with friends or family this holiday season. This is a large percentage of the population and shows the strides we’ve made combating COVID over the last year. More than 65% or over 168 million people will take part in a gift exchange which was the second most popular activity. Additionally, the third most popular activity will be decorating homes. 52.79% or 136 million American adults will do this. The least common activity from our list will be volunteering as only 12.26% or 32 million people will volunteer during the holiday season. Surprisingly, 6.13% or 16 million people will do none of these activities.

      How much traveling and activities for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa will you be doing this year compared to last?

      How much traveling and activities for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa will you be doing this year compared to last?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • More than Last Year. — 33.85%
      • The Same as Last Year. — 56.63%
      • Less than Last Year. — 9.52%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Women are slightly more likely to take part in more traveling and activities for Christmas this year. 36.28% of women said they would. On the other hand, only 31.20% of men said they would be. 10.08% of men said they would be doing fewer Christmas activities while only 9.03% of women will.

      Key Takeaway Nearly 34% of all American adults or 87 million people will take part in more Christmas traveling and activities this year than last. With so many more people traveling and taking part in Christmas activities, the holiday may be back into full swing after COVID. Only 9.52% of survey respondents said they would take part in less traveling or Christmas activities. 56.63% said their participation would be the same as last year.

      Survey 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 October 17. Of those surveyed, 47.25% were male and 52.75% were female. The age breakdown of participants included in this survey was 25.00% in the range 18-29, 21.98% in the range 30-44, 30.86% in the range 45-60, and 22.16% over 60. This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of ±3.026%. You can learn more about SurveyMonkey’s sampling method by clicking here.

      The questions were chosen and the results were analyzed by the post author, Eric Jones, who is a Mathematics and Statistics Professor at Rowan College South Jersey.

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. 

      Eric Jones Mediterranean Cruise

      By Eric Jones

      Eric Jones is the co-founder and head of operations of The Vacationer. He uses his background in mathematics as a professor at Rowan College South Jersey to conduct statistical studies and surveys on traveling and vacations. Having traveled to all 50 states and over 30 countries, Eric is well-equipped to recommend travel destinations and new adventures to those seeking lifetime experiences.