Many Travelers Have Suffered an Emotional Toll Due to COVID Restrictions

Travelers are seriously missing vacations abroad amid the pandemic—so much so that it’s begun taking a real emotional toll on them. Many cited travel as one of the activities that they’re most yearning for

New Study Finds Consumers Miss Travel So Much It’s Taking an Emotional Toll on Many

AUGUST 16, 2020

In a new Amex Trendex report, American Express found that U.S. consumers are seriously missing travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic—so much so that it’s begun taking a real emotional toll on them.

Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) reported that the inability to travel at present is causing them to feel anxious and stressed, and three out of four respondents (78 percent) cited travel as one of the activities that they’re most yearning for.

With summer drawing to an end and no end to COVID-19 in sight, Americans nonetheless remain reluctant to take up traveling again, with only ten percent of those surveyed saying they plan to travel over Labor Day weekend. Only one in five (20 percent) said they’re currently planning to travel for Thanksgiving.

In terms of their considerations when planning future travel, some key consumer insights also emerged from the study:

When restrictions are finally lifted and it’s actually considered safe to travel again, 67 percent said that they’d still prefer to travel with members of their households, with whom they’ve been cooped up at home for several months, to going by themselves (ten percent).

While four in five consumers (77 percent) prefer to make their reservations online themselves, they also want direct access to speak with a real person who can help as needed.

Social distancing concerns also prevail, with six in ten (61 percent) of respondents saying they’d pay more to travel on a plane or train that leaves every other seat open.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed cited increased flexibility, in terms of booking changes and refunds, as the most important factor in planning future travel, followed by the 19 percent who pointed to cleanliness standards as their foremost concern.

Over half (57 percent) said they would be willing to take an extended-stay trip and live elsewhere for three months if offered economic and health incentives, with half of those expressing the desire to do so for a whole year or more.

Spending Trends

Based on its U.S. Card Member booking data, American Express Travel observed similar trends to what was reported in the survey:

Card Members continue to stay closer to home when traveling. More than half (52 percent) of hotel bookings made in July were within Card Members’ home state, or out of state in nearby regions, as compared to 33 percent in July 2019.

From the start of June through the beginning of July, 90 percent of lodging reservations and 79 percent of air travel bookings were domestic.

Last-minute bookings are becoming the norm. Two-thirds (62 percent) of hotel bookings were made less than two weeks ahead of travel, compared to 48 percent during the same period last year.

From the first week of July through the beginning of August, 85 percent of hotel bookings and 84 percent of domestic flight reservations were made for travel within the next 30 days.


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