Hilton survey: 59% of Americans planning to take wish-list vacation

After a year of staying at home, Americans are returning to travel and making up for lost time by booking their dream vacations. According to a new survey conducted by Hilton, 59% of respondents plan to jump back into travel with a bucket list vacation they would not have considered prior to the pandemic. The survey analyzed the impact COVID-19 had on Americans’ travel habits and determined their most sought-after wish list destinations. The top locations included international and domestic landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the Colosseum in Rome and the Las Vegas Strip.

The survey, which was conducted by market research company OnePoll and included responses from 2,000 U.S. adults, showed a strong desire to begin traveling post-pandemic: 64% of Americans agreed they are in desperate need of a vacation, especially since 26% have not taken a vacation in more than a year at the time of survey.

“The results show both international and domestic destinations are at the top of Americans’ wish lists for their next vacation,” said Jenna Hackett, global brand head, Curio Collection by Hilton. “It’s no surprise 30% strongly agree they will book a dream vacation that they normally wouldn’t have considered—our guests are looking for those authentic, one-of-a-kind experiences, especially after more than a year without making travel memories.”

A domestic travel state of mind
Given many are transitioning from staycations to dream vacations, survey respondents felt domestic travel was their best shot at a bucket list trip. In fact, 57% of those surveyed said they would be more comfortable traveling within the U.S. for their first post-pandemic vacation. The top U.S. cities Americans plan to visit include Honolulu (29%), New York City (25%) and Las Vegas (24%).

Additional cities on the survey takers’ travel wish list:

  • Los Angeles (selected by 21% of respondents)
  • Miami (selected by 20%)
  • New Orleans (selected by 20%)
  • San Francisco (selected by 19%)
  • San Diego (selected by 18%)

Global destinations
While many plan to stay stateside this year, there was still a large desire for eventual overseas travel. European countries topped the international wish list, with Italy being the most popular destination at 26%, followed closely by the U.K. (24%), France (20%) and Greece (18%).

As travelers consider specific cities they want to explore, Rome was the top choice with nearly 27%. Paris and London were close seconds at 26% and 25%, respectively.

Additional international wish list travel destinations:

  • Venice, Italy (23%)
  • Sydney (22%)
  • Dublin (20%)
  • Tokyo (18%)
  • Barcelona (17%)
  • Amsterdam (17%)
  • Madrid (16%)

“Whether traveling internationally or domestically, we’ve found that guests today are looking to dive into the local scene more and more, especially during these dream vacations,” said Phil Cordell, global brand head, Canopy by Hilton. “While they are looking for those once-in-a-lifetime moments, they also want to immerse themselves in the culture of their destination, as evidenced by 29% of those surveyed who wanted access to explore the nearby area and city and almost one in five wanting to feel like a local.”

Travelers also are ready to go all-in on their dream vacation: 30% said a top priority would be booking an all-inclusive vacation.

Additional results of the consumer survey:

  • Two in five respondents plan to visit family they haven’t seen during the pandemic and 27% plan to travel with friends and family. In fact, 38% of respondents said spending quality time with friends and family is one of the top things they miss about traveling.
  • Most respondents plan on staying at their destination longer (59%) and traveling further (46%) than they previously would have.
  • Safety is still top of mind for consumers when it comes to traveling this summer. The top priorities related to booking their next vacation are being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (48%) and ensuring their hotel has COVID-19 cleaning protocols and safety measures in place (35%).

The survey also found that nearly half of respondents (49%) said they used the pandemic as an opportunity to save up more money for a dream vacation they have always had on their wish list, while 55% said they plan to spend more than they usually would on their next trip since they haven’t traveled in a while: an average of $2,173.11.