Survey: Vaccines key to summer vacations for U.S. travelers

Half of U.S. adults (50%) are likely to take at least one vacation this summer (June–September), according to a new study by The Points Guy and Healthline Media. The interest in taking a summer vacation rises with those who are likely to get a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine or are already vaccinated (54%) vs. not likely to get a vaccine (40%). Of those who aren’t taking a summer vacation, more than two in five say they can’t afford it (41%), the most popular reason overall.

While 27% are very likely and 23% are somewhat likely to take a vacation this summer, those numbers rise for millennials (ages 25-40, 59% at least somewhat likely), parents with children under the age of 18 (65%) and those earning $80k+ per year (70%).

Of those who are at least somewhat likely to take a summer vacation, more than four in 10 (43%) anticipate spending more than $1,000, including 20% who think they’ll spend more than $2,000. Half (50%) say they will spend $1,000 or less and 7% don’t know. The likelihood to spend more than $1,000 increases with age: 53% of baby boomers (ages 57-75), 45% of Gen X (ages 41-56), 40% of millennials and 20% of Gen Z (ages 18-24).

“Some Americans may not have had a summer vacation since 2019, and so there’s clearly a lot of pent-up demand,” said Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor, The Points Guy, a website publishing advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences via travel points and miles. “Nearly half of prospective travelers plan to spend more than $1,000 on their summer vacations, which indicates they’re ready to make up for lost time by spending more for bigger trips.”

Of those who are likely to take a vacation this summer, nearly half (49%) say they are interested in taking a road trip. Other popular activities and destinations include interest in visiting a state or national park (39%); visiting a public beach (38%); going to an outdoor event such as a festival, sporting event, etc. (28%); camping (23%); visiting a big city (22%); attending an indoor event/venue such as theater, museum, comedy show, etc. (21%); visiting a resort (20%), staycation (20%), visiting a theme park (18%), traveling abroad (15%) and taking a cruise (9%).

Potential travelers this summer travel season are overwhelmingly in favor of COVID-19 protocols at their destinations; just 15% say they prefer limited or no precautions. Opinions differ between those who are likely to get a vaccine/already vaccinated and those who have no plans to get a vaccine: 38% of potential travelers who are unlikely to get the vaccine would prefer limited or no precautions versus only 9% of those who are vaccinated/plan to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, those thinking of traveling this summer would find safety measures important, like social distancing rules (50%); mandated masks (48%); strict cleaning protocols, such as wiping down and cleaning seats, rides, tables, etc. (48%); being able to make reservations ahead of time (40%); vaccine passports/proof of vaccinations (34%); temperature checks conducted upon arrival (31%) and negative COVID-19 tests (27%). Just 9% would see value in quarantine upon arrival.

“The most important aspect of traveling is to always stay safe and healthy,” said Laurie Dewan, VP, brand, insights and communications, Healthline Media. “No one wants their vacation to be spoiled by being ill. Even if you’re vaccinated, it’s still a good idea to wear a mask, stay six feet from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands frequently. This is good advice for staying healthy even if we’re not in a pandemic.”

Of those who are likely to skip a summer vacation, the most common reason is affordability (41%), followed by 29% who are not interested in taking any vacations and 28% who worry about their health while traveling due to COVID-19. Less popular reasons include no desire to wear a mask or deal with other mandates (10%), too many family obligations and inability to take time off from work (both 9%), no interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine (7%), already having travel plans for later in the year (6%) and children not being able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine yet (6%).

Overall, 41% of U.S. adults are likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available to them (28% very likely and 13% somewhat likely), vs. 26% who are unlikely (9% not too likely and 17% not at all likely). One-third of U.S. adults say they already received the vaccine.

The Points Guy and Healthline Media commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the online survey of 2,575 adults, including 1,299 who are likely to go on a vacation this summer. Fieldwork was undertaken April 7-9.