Travel may not be the same during these unprecedented times, but data from Booking.com reveals that happiness travel can bring isn’t measured in miles.
Travel plans may have changed drastically in 2020, but this has given travelers the opportunity to explore closer to home, discovering – and in many instances rediscovering – hidden gems on their doorstep.
Delving into this summer’s travel patterns, Booking.com calculated that the average distance Americans traveled (June – August) is down 51% (1) compared with the same time last year. When looking back at the summer of 2019 American travelers journeyed on average 1042 miles per booking (1). This summer, that distance has dropped to just 513 miles per booking (1), just slightly less than the distance from New York, NY to Pittsburgh, PA!(2)
Happiness isn’t measured in miles
A whopping majority (91%) (3) of the total distance travelled by Americans between June 1 and August 31, 2020 was within the United States, compared to only 43% during the same period of 2019. Drivable seaside towns and rustic nature escapes have topped the list of trending destinations booked by traveling Americans, as many have taken the opportunity to travel to reconnect family and friends that were apart due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures.
Destinations rediscovered – From Hiking Moab to Sunbathing at Virginia Beach
Many Americans have rediscovered the mountains of the west with traditional East Coast seaside destinations seeing a relative increase in interest from travelers. The domestic destinations that are the summer of 2020’s stand-out stars are West Yellowstone, Wildwood NJ, Lake George, Ocean City, Wilmington NC, Gulf Shores AL (5).
While some more rural gems are trending, long standing, tried-and-true urban favorites still top the list of most popular destinations as American travelers rediscovered their home country this summer. The top booked destinations this summer reveal Americans still love a city break with Las Vegas, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, Orlando and Ocean City topping the list (6).
And when it comes to accommodation choice, Americans were more likely to have opted for a lodge than they were last year, followed by resorts and motels which all topped the rankings of the trending accommodation types for American travelers this summer (7). This rise in lodges shows the shift in travel types we’ve seen. When looking back at the end of 2019, before we knew that our 2020 travel plans would be clouded by a global pandemic, only 14% of Americans were intending to stay at a lodge, while only 27% were anticipating staying in a traditional resort (8).
The unexpected route to our travel plans this summer
While the events of the year have led to seismic shifts in travel behaviors and destination choices, travel has still found a way to satisfy many travelers’ wanderlust. At the end of 2019, Americans were dreaming of beautiful beaches (37%) and bustling city trips (31%) (8). Almost half (49%) even dreamt of traveling to visit family and friends before they knew their contact with them would have been limited this year (8).
Many of those travel desires would typically have been met in far flung destinations, but this year many have discovered these simple pleasures next door. So, whether on the beaches of Wildwood, NJ rather than Dubai, or exploring the city delights of Las Vegas rather than Lisbon, the travel desires of many Americans have still been explored in 2020, just a little closer to home.
Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com, said: “During these unprecedented times it’s reassuring to see that while our plans and priorities may have changed, our passion for travel has not. Whether it’s the memories captured, relationships strengthened, or smiles made, the summer of 2020 proved that the happiness travel can bring is not simply measured in miles and that there are plenty of adventures to be explored and comfort to be found right next door. With our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, we offer the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience so travelers can get out and enjoy all kinds of travel experiences, whenever it’s safe to do so and whether that’s near or far.”
NOTES TO EDITORS ON DATA
1. Average distance was calculated by taking the distance between a booker’s estimated location based on IP and the destination as a straight line). Year on year changes were calculated by looking at bookings by American travelers between June 1 and August 31, 2020, compared to the same months in 2019.
2. Distance between New York, NY to Pittsburgh, PA calculated at 534 miles
3. Share of the total distance traveled by American travelers based on the combined absolute distance between their cities of origin and destinations of all trips.
4. Based on top booked destinations June 1 through August 31, 2020 (domestic and international)
5. To calculate trending destinations, the top 100 most booked American destinations were sorted by the year on year difference in Bookings between June and August 2020 and the same months in 2019. Note that because of the overall slump in travel this does not mean that trending destinations saw an absolute increase in Bookings.
6. Top booked domestic destinations June 1 through August 31, 2020 for American travelers
7. Top trending accommodation types booked by American travelers on Booking.com between June 1 and August 31, 2020 and the same months in 2019. Based on both international and domestic travel.
8. Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 50,688 respondents across 29 markets. In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in the past 12 months and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in November 2019.