Most Americans have made travel plans for a post-COVID summer

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A new study by OnePoll on behalf of Pilot Flying J reveals Americans hopes for safe travel as early as this summer. (Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash)

As a result of COVID-19, two-thirds of Americans plan to travel MORE over the summer, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 American drivers found 65% have increased the number of trips they plan to take over the summer after being cooped up inside.

Respondents are ready for the open air — and the open road — but they might be leaving behind the person they spent quarantine with.

Commissioned by Pilot Flying J and conducted by OnePoll in advance of National Road Trip Day on the Friday before Memorial Day, the survey found 62% admitted they need a break from their loved one(s) after being quarantined together for weeks on end.

Of those with a trip planned for the summer, 66% had a trip canceled or postponed as a result of the pandemic — but they’re not letting it stop them.

Results found 44% used their time in quarantine to plan a trip, and many (54%) did so by taking advantage of the deals and discounts available due to COVID-19.

Thirty-two percent of those surveyed took a discounted trip when the pandemic began — before travel restrictions, while 22% booked a cheaper trip for the future.

Respondents were asked to assume they could travel safely when speaking to their summer travel plans — with social distancing guidelines and travel restrictions lifted — but summer travel is going to look different in the wake of COVID-19, regardless.

There might be more cars on the road this summer, as 35% said they’d prefer to drive due to worries about flying post-COVID-19.

The average respondent would add six hours and 38 minutes to their trip if they could avoid traveling by plane and drive instead.

Overall, 88% of respondents have at least one trip mapped out for summer — and of those, 53% have a road trip planned.

And some are planning big: 65% of those surveyed are seriously considering taking a three-month hiatus and traveling for the whole summer.

For others, even a small road trip may seem big. More than half of Americans (54%) admit they have not left their home state in 2+ years.

“As the nation continues its road to recovery, we know many people are thinking about ways to safely enjoy summer vacations,” said Whitney Haslam Johnson, chief experience officer for Pilot Flying J. “While current travel guidelines vary across the country, we hope this National Road Trip Day will inspire people to discover new places to visit once they are ready to get back on the road. Our travel centers will be open with everything they need for a successful road trip, from clean bathrooms to everyday items and a large selection of snacks, food and beverage offerings.”

During quarantine, more than half (56%) of people reconnected with friends or family members they hadn’t communicated with in a while. Of those, two-thirds (64%) plan to visit one of these friends or family members this summer.

There’s another kind of travel on the rise — 52% of respondents said the pandemic has made them more likely to take an outdoors-focused trip.

But those driving should plan ahead: The average respondent said anything over seven hours and 41 minutes was too long to spend stuck in a car with their loved ones.

“Whether you’re stopping for a food and bathroom break or taking a minute to stretch your legs, know that our Pilot and Flying J locations put health and safety first with thorough cleaning procedures, social distancing guidelines and friendly team members ready to help make your stop a great experience,” said Johnson.

WHAT KINDS OF TRIPS ARE RESPONDENTS PLANNING FOR SUMMER?

  1. Visit family 49%
  2. Travel to landmarks within my state/neighboring states 38%
  3. Visit friends 34%
  4. A cross-country trip 34%
  5. A trip to a beach or vacation home 33%
  6. A hiking or camping trip in nature 31%
  7. Day trips to museums, amusement parks, etc. 27%
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WHY RESPONDENTS WOULD PREFER TO DRIVE VERSUS FLY

  1. Allows more flexibility in the trip 44%
  2. More affordable 42%
  3. Additional opportunities for sightseeing 39%
  4. Worried about flying post-COVID-19 35%
  5. Allows me to more easily explore other places along the way 34%
  6. More quality time with my travel companions 32%
  7. Allows the travel to be part of the vacation 32%
  8. More scenic 29%
  9. Easier to bring pets along for the trip 24%
  10. Easier to pack 24%
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