How Were Americans Traveling Prior to Coronavirus?



Destination Analysts’ quarterly The State of the American Traveler Study has tracked American traveler sentiment, behaviors and opinions since 2006. The January 2020 Destinations Edition captured how Americans were thinking about and approaching travel before the onset of COVID-19. Read below for how much Americans were traveling and to which destinations, with whom they were traveling, where they aspired to visit, and what resources they looked to for inspiration. You can find further benchmarks of travel sentiment in the pre-COVID-19 period compared to now here. To see how Americans are currently thinking and feeling about travel, please see our latest traveler insights and updates.

How Americans Traveled for Leisure


In the 12 months prior to January 2020, the typical American leisure traveler took 4.2 trips (50 miles or more away from their home for purely leisure reasons.) The graphic below describes how these trips were taken.



Top Domestic Destinations


The chart below maps selected top domestic destinations by travelers’ familiarity (size of bubble), appeal (Y-axis) and likelihood of visitation (X-axis). In January 2020, cities like New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Los Angeles and San Francisco topped the destinations Americans felt most likely to visit.


Expected Travel by Destination Types


In terms of what types of destinations Americans were planning to travel to in 2020, in January 2020, 74% of American travelers said they were going to take 1.9 leisure trips to cities and metropolitan areas. In contrast, only 0.6 trips of planned trips were to National Parks.


Destination Inspiration


In January 2020, word of mouth–either directly or through social media–was the most relied upon source American travelers turned to for travel inspiration. Online media was on the rise and less were relying on offline media for inspiration.