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      Holiday Travel Survey 2020 – Thanksgiving and Christmas

      Eric Jones
      Dining Table Holidays 2020

      October 2021 Update – Check out our 2021 Holiday Travel Survey for updated numbers.

      The holiday season is upon us. Despite CDC warnings, millions of Americans traveled during Thanksgiving. Even more plan to travel during Christmas (33.46%, or 85,337,090 Americans) which could accelerate an already dangerous second wave of COVID-19. Testing is harder to come by, but numerous airports now offer it on site.

      In our 2020 holiday travel survey, we sought out to see how the ongoing pandemic will impact the holidays. As new lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions are implemented, are families still planning to travel and vacation for the holidays? Is Pandemic Fatigue setting in? Do people feel safe on airplanes? Here are the results of our survey.

      Do you plan on traveling to a vacation destination or gathering (car, bus, train, airplane, etc.) during the holidays this year?

      Plans to Travel for the Holidays 2020

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Thanksgiving — 12.30%
      • Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa — 16.46%
      • Both — 17.00%
      • No — 54.25%

      Key Takeaway — 33.46% (85,337,090 Americans) will travel during Christmas this year. 55% of people will not be traveling to a vacation destination or gathering during the holidays this year. This also implies that an astonishing 45% of people intend to travel and take part in holiday gatherings despite tightening COVID-19 restrictions.

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — As the age of respondents to the survey increased, they were more likely to say they would not be traveling this holiday season. The granular data shows 34.40% of people aged 18-29 said no and 53.10% of people aged 30-44 said no. Additionally, 57.45% of people aged 45-60 said no and 69.72% of people over 60 said no. This should come as no surprise since older people have an increased likelihood of severe complications and death related to COVID-19.

      Further Reading: Best & Worst Days to Fly for the Holidays

      See Also: When to Book Thanksgiving Flights and When to Book Christmas Flights.

      Has the pandemic canceled or changed your travel plans (destination, gathering volume/type, mode of travel, etc.) for the holidays this year?

      Pandemic Canceled or Changed Your Travel Plans Holidays 2020

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Yes — 61.05%
      • No — 24.82%
      • Waiting to See — 14.13%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Of the people surveyed, those living in the New England region were most likely to say the pandemic has canceled or changed their holiday plans. 80% of respondents from this region answered yes to this question. This is nearly 20% more than the overall results. The results of this question coincide with New England having some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the USA.

      Key Takeaway — At least 61% of people have already had their holiday plans canceled or changed due to the pandemic. This number could balloon to 75% as 14% of people are still waiting to see if their plans will be canceled or changed. This is just further proof that despite recent good news about potential vaccines and therapeutics, COVID-19 will continue to disrupt our lives even more over the coming months.

      Has Pandemic Fatigue increased your interest in traveling for the holidays (whether you actually will or not)?

      Has Pandemic Fatigue Increased Your Interest in Travel Holidays 2020

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Yes — 45.01%
      • No — 54.99%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Pandemic Fatigue increases as the age of respondents decreases. This reaffirms the data from question one that says younger people are more likely to travel for the holidays. Overall, 54.03% of people aged 18-29 had Pandemic Fatigue, 50.34% of people aged 30-44 had Pandemic Fatigue, 46.81% of people aged 45-60 had Pandemic Fatigue and 29.79% of people over 60 had Pandemic Fatigue.

      Key Takeaway — Despite another wave of COVID-19, over 45% of people say Pandemic Fatigue has increased their interest in traveling for the holidays. Based on the current census, this means nearly 115 million adults are more interested in traveling for the holidays due to Pandemic Fatigue. The interest is nearly identical across genders as 46.12% of males said yes and 44.03% of females said yes.

      Are you more or less likely to go on a vacation or travel to see family compared to March/April?

      Are You More or Less Likely to Go on A Family Vacation or Travel

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • More Likely — 23.77%
      • Less Likely — 45.37%
      • About the Same — 30.85%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Once again, older Americans seem to be the most cautious with traveling during the pandemic. For example, only 14.79% of people over age 60 are more likely to travel than in March or April. However, 26.61% of Americans aged 18-29 are more likely to travel.

      Key Takeaway — Despite Pandemic Fatigue increasing interest in traveling for 45% of the population, only 23.77% of Americans are actually more likely to vacation or travel compared to March or April. This means even though nearly 116 million people have more interest in traveling, only about 61 million people are more likely to do so.

      Do you feel safe traveling on an airplane for the holidays?

      Do You Feel Safe Traveling on an Airplane for the Holidays?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Yes, I am flying on an airplane for the holidays this year. — 12.00%
      • Yes, but I am not flying on an airplane for the holidays this year. — 24.36%
      • No, but I am still flying on an airplane for the holidays this year. — 6.00%
      • No, I am not flying on an airplane for the holidays this year. — 57.64%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Nearly 10% more men feel safe traveling on an airplane for the holidays than women. While 41.47% of men would feel safe on an airplane, only 31.85% of women would. This data is very similar to what we saw in our May 2020 travel survey.

      Key Takeaway — Less than 37% of people feel safe traveling on an airplane for the holidays. This is surprisingly low since the CDC recently said most viruses do not spread easily on flights. The previous statistic includes the 12% of respondents that feel safe and actually will be flying on an airplane. It also includes the 24.36% of people that would feel safe but aren’t actually flying. Interestingly, 6% of people say they do not feel safe on airplane but will travel on one for the holidays anyway.

      Survey Methodology

      This Holiday Travel Survey 2020 was conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of The Vacationer. In total, 553 Americans over the age of 18 were polled on November 14. Using a full census, the demographics of those surveyed include 46.84% male and 53.16% female. The age breakdown of participants included in this survey were 22.60% in the range 18-29, 26.22% in the range 30-44, 25.50% in the range 45-60 and 25.68% over 60. This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of ±4.252%. 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.

      Featured Image via Pixabay

      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.