New Survey Shows Changing Traveler Behaviors & Attitudes with Vaccine Rollout

As COVID-19 vaccination programs continue to ramp up across the United States, many Americans are eager to start traveling again. 

A new survey conducted by Drive Research shows 75% of Americans plan to travel domestically within the next 6 months.

However, travelers still need certain COVID-19 protocols in place to feel safe when crossing state lines. 

For instance, 59% of respondents agree destinations with vaccination requirements are necessary to feel comfortable while traveling.

Other key survey findings include:

  • While 44% of respondents have not traveled domestically in the past 6 months, 75% plan to travel outside state lines within the next 6 months.
  • Most Americans plan to travel via car, SUV, or truck (80%).  
  • 1 in 3 Americans plans to travel internationally within the next 3 months.
  • 56% of respondents need to receive the full COVID-19 vaccination in order to feel comfortable while traveling.
  • Non-vaccinated respondents were 3X more likely to believe that it is fine to travel and feel safe traveling right now. 
  • Only 12% of Americans are very concerned with contracting COVID-19 when traveling - a 78% decrease from one year ago.

Continue reading to learn more statistics on consumer traveling behaviors and preferences as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift.


Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine 

In December of 2020, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was administered. At that time, our surveys showed that 1 in 2 Americans were concerned about receiving the vaccine.

However, as time has passed it seems as though concerns have decreased when looking at today’s survey respondents.

When asked, “Have you been vaccinated for COVID-19?” results showed:

  • 69% of respondents were fully vaccinated.
  • 14% of respondents did not plan on getting vaccinated.
  • 8% of respondents were partially vaccinated.
  • 6% of respondents were not currently vaccinated, but want to be.
  • 3% of respondents preferred not to answer. 

Travel Behaviors Based on Vaccination Status

Vaccination status had little impact on plans to travel and comfort while doing so. 

When asked if respondents plan to travel domestically within the next 6 months, a majority of both vaccinated and unvaccinated respondents said, “Yes.”

statistic on americans traveling domestically - vaccinated vs unvaccinated

Traveling Internationally

As for international travel, more unvaccinated respondents are willing to travel outside of the country than respondents who are fully or partially vaccinated.

33% of unvaccinated respondents agree they are willing to travel internationally in the next 3-months, while only 28% of vaccinated respondents are comfortable doing so. 

Additionally, Gen Z and Millennials were more likely to be willing to travel internationally than Traditionalists and Baby Boomers. 

Preferred Travel Protocols

The difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated respondents showed in what people needed in order to feel comfortable traveling. 

When asked, “Which of the following do you need in order to travel?” top answers among vaccinated respondents included:

  • I’ve received my full COVID-19 vaccination (68%)
  • Government lifts travel restrictions (43%)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) says it is okay to do so (43%)

When asked, “Which of the following do you need in order to travel?” top answers among unvaccinated respondents included:

  • It’s fine to travel right now (39%)
  • Government lifts travel restrictions (24%)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is okay to do so (21%)

Additionally, answers varied between vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers regarding what would make them feel safer if traveling.

Vaccinated travelers feel safer traveling with the following protocols in place: 

  • Vaccination requirements (71%)
  • Mandatory face masks (64%)
  • Social distancing guidelines (58%)
  • Enhanced cleanliness (54%)

Unvaccinated travelers feel safer traveling with the following protocols in place: 

  • Mandatory face masks (48%)
  • Enhanced cleanliness (47%)
  • Social distancing guidelines (45%)
  • Nothing, I feel safe to travel (34%)

Concerns with Contracting COVID-19 While Traveling

Our survey showed 93% of Americans were concerned about catching COVID-19 while traveling, with 55% being very concerned. 

However, today fears of catching COVID-19 while traveling have decreased significantly.

Only 12% of Americans are very concerned with testing positive for Coronavirus after traveling. 

Chart showing americans concern with catching covid-19 while traveling - 2020 vs. 2021

Overall, non-vaccinated respondents are less concerned about catching COVID-19 compared to fully or partially vaccinated respondents. 

For further context…

  • 82% of vaccinated travelers have some level of concern with catching COVID-19
  • 69% of unvaccinated travelers have some level of concern with catching COVID-19

What Americans Missed Most About Traveling

For traveler bugs, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a pause on traveling to new destinations and exploring new parts of the world.

What did Americans miss most about traveling?

  • Seeing family and friends the most (77%)
  • Exploring new places or destinations (75%)
  • The anticipation or looking forward to traveling (65%)

Vaccinated respondents were more likely to miss seeing their friends, while not vaccinated respondents missed exploring new places or destinations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, females were more likely to have missed seeing friends and family the most, while males and others missed traveling and exploring new destinations during the pandemic.  


Preferred Methods of Traveling 

The majority of respondents (75%) plan to travel outside of the state they primarily reside in within the next 6 months. 

When asked, “What will be your main method of travel?” top answers included:

  • A personal vehicle such as a car, SUV, or truck (80%) 
  • Plane (51%)
  • Train (5%)
  • Bus (4%)

Compared to all other age groups, Gen Z was most likely to choose a plane as their main method of transportation if they were traveling outside the state they primarily reside in.  


Comfort Levels with Activities and Events 

Aside from establishing a few COVID-19 protocols, there are certain activities that travelers feel more comfortable participating in than others.

Respondents were most comfortable participating in the following activities:

  • Staying at a hotel (49%)
  • Dining indoors at a restaurant (47%)
  • Going to a bar (30%)

Respondents were least comfortable participating in the following activities:

  • Using public transportation (17%)
  • Attending a concert (17%
  • Using a rideshare service such as Lyft or Uber (15%)

chart showing american comfort levels with activities post-Covid

As a New York market research firm, our team had interests in obtaining comfort levels with local events and activities as well.

Recently, it was announced that the 2021 New York State Fair will return this summer. 

How comfortable are Central New Yorkers attending The Fair?

Respondents were more likely to attend the New York State Fair (23%) over outdoor concerts at St. Joseph's Health Amphitheater at Lakeview (16%). 

Vaccinated respondents were more likely to attend both The Fair and St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview than unvaccinated respondents.

Additionally, males were more likely to attend the outdoor concerts at St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, while females were more likely to attend the New York State Fair. 


Finding the Silver Lining to COVID-19

It goes without saying that 2020 was well, a shit show. However, our market research company wanted to try and find a bright spot from our time in quarantine.

We asked respondents, “Which of the following have you seen as benefits of being at home during the COVID-19 pandemic?”

Most Americans agreed the benefits of COVID-19 included:

  • The opportunity to save money (60%)
  • Spending more time with family at home (57%)
  • Working remotely remote work (50%)
  • More time for leisure activities (39%)

About the Study

For this survey, our market research company sought to measure how travel attitudes have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our team collected data to predict trends for future domestic and international travel plans.

This included identifying what travelers needed to feel safe and what should be required to travel. 

Survey Questions

  • How did concerns about catching COVID-19 while traveling change? 
  • What did travelers need to feel safe when traveling?
  • How comfortable were travelers with certain social activities? 
  • What has been missed the most about traveling and attending events during COVID-19?
  • What were the benefits of being at home during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Survey Methodology

  • The survey received 595 responses. 
  • Fieldwork was conducted with adult residents of the United States. 
  • Fieldwork for the survey began on May 10 and lasted until May 13, 2021. 
  • The COVID-19 traveling survey included 20 questions and took respondents 5 minutes to complete. 

Respondent Profile

  • The survey reached a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated respondents.
    • 69% of respondents were fully vaccinated.
    • 14% of respondents did not plan on getting vaccinated.
    • 8% of respondents were partially vaccinated.
    • 6% of respondents were not currently vaccinated, but want to be.
    • 3% of respondents preferred not to answer. 
  • The survey reached a mix of generations.
    • 12% of respondents were Generation Z.
    • 44% of respondents were Millennials.
    • 24% of respondents were Generation X.
    • 19% of respondents were Baby Boomers.
    • 1% of respondents were Traditionalists.   
  • The survey reached a mix of genders.
    • 69% of respondents were female.
    • 30% of respondents were male.
    • 1% of respondents were non-binary.

About Drive Research

Drive Research is a PR survey company located in New York. Our market research firm works with a variety of organizations, helping deliver insights, action items, and ROI on their survey efforts. 

Our research has been featured in top-tier media outlets including USA Today, CNBC, Forbes, Spectrum, Yahoo Finance, and Statista. 

To learn more about our market research services, contact our team today.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.


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