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Two-thirds will travel in 2021, but few will travel more than Pre-COVID

While two-thirds (66%) of U.S. adults plan to travel in 2021, only 24% are preparing to take more trips than they normally would, according to a new Bankrate.com report. That suggests that pent-up demand may have a fairly low ceiling, and most people still have various factors holding them back from traveling more frequently. Click here for more information:

About a third (31%) plan to travel but believe they’ll take the same number of trips as a “normal” year, and a similar grouping (34%) won’t travel at all. That leaves 11% who will take at least one trip, but anticipate fewer trips than a “normal” year.

Vaccination status appears to make a difference: 71% of those who have begun (or completed) the COVID-19 vaccination process intend to travel, compared with 57% who have not started the vaccination process.

And there are notable generational differences: 41% of Gen Zers (ages 18-24), 37% of millennials (ages 25-40), 16% of Gen Xers (ages 41-56) and 14% of baby boomers (ages 57-75) expect to travel more than usual in 2021. In fact, 24% of Gen Zers and 22% of millennials are planning at least two “extra” trips. Just 10% of Gen Xers and 6% of boomers anticipate the same.

There’s substantial variation by income bracket as well: 82% with annual household incomes above $80,000 expect to travel in 2021, versus 69% who make between $40,000 and $80,000 and 54% who earn less than $40,000 annually.

How will 2021 travelers pay for their voyages? The most prevalent response (43%) was a debit card or cash, which indicates a desire to avoid debt, just as we saw for much of 2020 and early 2021. A similar cohort (39%) will use a credit card and pay in full, while 16% will pay with credit and carry a balance.

“The best way to use a credit card is like a debit card – paying in full to avoid interest,” according to Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com. “If you can do that, credit cards offer superior rewards programs and buyer protections. This is actually one of the best times in history to sign up for a new credit card, since issuers are offering record sign-up bonuses to capitalize on the rebound in consumer spending.”

Rossman also recommends that travelers check to see if they already have a stockpile of credit card points, airline miles or hotel rewards that they can put towards a trip. The survey found that 15% of travelers are planning to redeem points/miles. Note that respondents could select more than one response.

The top reason for traveling in 2021 is to spend time with family/friends (63%), followed by revisiting a favorite location (28%), checking a destination off one’s bucket list (19%) and attending an event (17%). Just 9% anticipate traveling for business this year.

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