Survey: Half of Americans Still Plan to Travel Over Thanksgiving

Road trip during COVID-19 pandemic

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Tripadvisor this week released findings from its Thanksgiving Travel Index for 2020, providing insights into where Americans are going for the holiday. The big takeaway is that despite COVID-19 concerns, 56 percent of Americans still intend to travel this Thanksgiving—down 14 percent year-over-year.

Recent Tripadvisor site data shows Key Largo, Fla., Sedona, Ariz., Key West, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz. have increased in popularity since last year’s holiday and are recovering from the pandemic much faster than other U.S. travel destinations. Cities such as New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Nashville have decreased in popularity since last year’s Thanksgiving and are not recovering as quickly.

Road trips remain popular, with 76 percent of respondents planning to drive to their destination and 11 percent planning to fly. Twenty-two percent plan to stay in a hotel or vacation rental to practice social distancing from friends and family.

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The busiest departure day is expected to be Thanksgiving Day (November 26), when 26 percent of travelers will hit the road. Many travelers who are not leaving the day-of are extending their trip, with 43 percent traveling the weekend before Thanksgiving (November 20-22). The busiest return day will be Friday, November 27, with 31 percent of travelers heading home the day after Thanksgiving.

“Despite COVID-19 concerns, the majority of Americans are still traveling this Thanksgiving. The way in which consumers travel, however, will look very different from past years,” said Christopher Hsi, consumer market research lead analyst for Tripadvisor. “This year, we can expect shorter trips with smaller groups of people for more intimate, close-knit gatherings. Many are taking day trips (24 percent) or spending one night at their destination. Americans are also continuing to avoid big cities, instead opting for warm weather and beach destinations in southern states. We do see, however, that Boomers are less likely to travel this year compared to last (29 percent vs. 51 percent).”

Fastest Recovering Thanksgiving Travel Destinations in 2020
  1. Key Largo, Fla. (+71% YOY)
  2. Sedona, Ariz. (+50% YOY)
  3. Key West, Fla. (+36% YOY)
  4. Scottsdale, Ariz. (+28% YOY)
  5. Naples, Fla. (-2% YOY)
  6. Clearwater, Fla. (-8% YOY)
  7. Palm Springs, Calif. (-13% YOY)
  8. Myrtle Beach, S.C. (-14% YOY)
  9. Charleston, S.C. (-17% YOY)
  10. St. Pete Beach, Fla. (-21% YOY)
Slowest Recovering Thanksgiving Travel Destinations in 2020
  1. New York City (-80% YOY)
  2. New Orleans, La. (-75% YOY)
  3. Los Angeles, Calif. (-62% YOY)
  4. Nashville, Tenn. (-61% YOY)
  5. Boston, Mass. (-59% YOY)
  6. Chicago, Ill. (-56% YOY)
  7. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (-51% YOY)
  8. Orlando, Fla. (-50% YOY)
  9. Las Vegas, Nev. (-44% YOY)
  10. San Antonio, Texas (-44% YOY)

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