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      Sustainable Travel Survey 2021 – Importance & Sentiment to Fight Climate Change When Booking Travel

      Eric Jones
      Sustainable Travel Survey 2021

      Update – See our 2023 Sustainable Travel Survey and our 2022 Sustainable Travel Survey to see updated figures and compare them to 2021 results.

      Our recent Summer 2021 Travel Survey revealed that people are itching to vacation. We reported that 68% of people plan to travel this summer. Additionally, 25% of people intend to “Revenge Travel” which means they plan to travel more than before COVID-19. TSA checkpoint travel numbers also show that traveler throughput figures are steadily increasing back to 2019 levels. More and more people are on the road and flying on planes than at any time during the pandemic. And, with more travel comes more pollution and an increasing carbon footprint which had drastically decreased in 2020.

      We launched this Sustainable Travel Survey in order to gauge the eco-friendly travel sentiment of consumers. Is sustainable travel to fight climate change important to vacationers? Are people planning to be more conscientious to the environment when planning travel? Are people okay with paying more to reduce their carbon footprint when it comes to getting to their destination? Below you can find the results of our Sustainable Travel survey. In addition, you will find key takeaways and demographic comparisons.

      How important is sustainable travel (environmentally friendly) to you?

      How Important is Sustainable Travel to You?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Very Important. — 26.10%
      • Somewhat Important. — 56.57%
      • Not at All Important. — 17.33%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Sustainable travel is most important to the youngest generation aged 18-29. 29.63% of people in this age bracket noted it was Very Important to them. Only 13.33% said it was Not at All Important. On the other hand, sustainable travel is least important to the older generation of Americans over the age of 60. Only 23.08% of those over 60 said sustainable travel was Very Important to them. 25.27% said it was Not Important at All.

      Key Takeaway Nearly 83% of all Americans stated that sustainable travel was either Somewhat Important or Very Important to them. The 83% represents over 210 million people over the age of 18 based on the current census. This figure is substantially larger than a majority. It shows that there is a large percentage of people on both sides of the aisle consciously thinking about environmentally friendly travel. President Biden has ambitious plans to radically combat climate change with electric vehicle charging infrastructure and tax credits. Therefore, sustainable travel is likely to become the norm.

      Do you intend to make more sustainable (eco-friendly) decisions when planning travel?

      Do You Intend to Make More Sustainable Decisions When Planning Travel?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Yes, regardless if it inconveniences me. — 26.55%
      • Yes, but only if it does not inconvenience me. — 48.30%
      • No. — 25.15%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — Respondents in the Middle Atlantic region said they were most likely to make eco-friendly travel planning decisions. 81.82% of people in this region which includes the states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have these intentions. On the other hand, the West North Central region is the least likely to make sustainable decisions with 44% saying no. The West North Central region includes the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

      Key Takeaway — Almost 75% of all Americans aged 18 or older stated they intend to make more sustainable decisions when planning travel. Three out of every four American adults, or over 190 million people, will conscientiously think about how their travel plans can be more environmentally friendly the next time they book. We should note that 48.30% of people did say they will only make sustainable decisions if it does not inconvenience them. This makes it extremely important for the United States to quickly and expediently adopt eco-friendly travel and infrastructure options to lessen climate change.

      Which factor is most important to you when booking travel?

      Which Factor is Most Important to You When Booking Travel?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • Cost. — 61.75%
      • Time and Convenience. — 33.86%
      • Sustainability and Carbon Footprint. — 4.38%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — The survey results indicated that more women thought cost was the most important factor when booking travel. 68.82% of women thought this while only 53.97% of men did. On the other hand, more men thought time and convenience and sustainability and carbon footprint were more important. 40.17% and 5.86% of men thought that time and convenience and sustainability and carbon footprint were most important respectively. Only 28.14% and 3.04% of women respectively felt the same.

      Key Takeaway — Less than 5% of American adults said that sustainability and carbon footprint was most important to them when booking travel. Overwhelmingly, at 61.75%, people stated that cost was the most important followed by time and convenience. This is another indication that we need to speed up the adoption of eco-friendly transportation so that it is much cheaper and more convenient. At the government level, this can be done via tax credits and other incentives.

      How much more would you be willing to spend on your vacation in order to  lower your carbon footprint from the trip?

      How Much More Would You Spend on Vacation in order to Lower Your Carbon Footprint?

      Photo: Eric Jones screenshot via SurveyMonkey

      Let’s take a look at the survey results:

      • $0. — 28.63%
      • Less than $50. — 26.64%
      • Between $50 and $250. — 33.20%
      • Between $250 and $500. — 8.95%
      • Over $500. — 2.58%

      Interesting Demographic Comparison — The older a survey respondent was, the less likely they were willing to spend more on a vacation to lower their carbon footprint. 39.56% of those over 60 said they would not be willing to spend more despite likely having the most money. 33.71% of those aged 45-60 said they would not spend more while only 28.28% of people aged 30-44 would not. Lastly, only 14.81% of young people aged 18-29 said they would not be willing to spend more. This once again shows that the younger generation is much more environmentally conscious than the older ones.

      Key Takeaway — Over 71% of adult Americans would pay more for a vacation in order to lower their carbon footprint. This equates to more than 182 million people. More astonishingly, 33.20% of people stated they would be willing to pay up to $250 extra to lower their vacation’s carbon footprint and fight climate change! These figures are quite amazing since our previous question showed cost is still the overwhelmingly most important factor when booking travel. While cost is the most important, if we can lower the pricing of sustainable travel to be even close to current prices, most people would opt for it.

      Survey Methodology

      This Sustainable Travel Survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of The Vacationer. In total, 504 Americans over the age of 18 were polled between April 21 and April 22. Of those surveyed, 47.42% were male and 52.58% were female. The age breakdown of participants included in this survey was 26.98% in the range 18-29, 19.64% in the range 30-44, 35.32% in the range 45-60, and 18.06% over 60. This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of ±4.454%. 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.