What We Learned from Travelers in the Pandemic Summer

Despite record levels of health and financial concerns caused by COVID-19, over one-third of American travelers took a trip in the summer of 2020. During our industry update webinar on September 8th, Destination Analysts’ President and CEO, Erin Francis-Cummings, interviewed a panel of travelers who took a trip in the pandemic summer to explore what could be learned about improving safety perceptions and how the industry can inspire more trips.

Watch the video below for highlights from this discussion.



Travelers faced shaming when sharing their trip plans. Summer travelers felt a certain level of fear, judgement and shame slung their way when they shared their trip plans with others, which has made them less comfortable and willing to share their current travel ideas beyond their close personal networks.

Strict and thorough practice and enforcement of pandemic related safety measures made these travelers feel safer. Visible mask wearing and social distancing among the public made travelers feel they could keep safe from COVID-19 during their summer trips. However, there was observation of unsafe behavior and environments. “Family-friendly” environments are perceived to enforce stricter guidelines compared to adults-only places such as bars and nightclubs, which are viewed to be more lax in safety protocols enforcement and more tolerant of poor pandemic etiquette. Hearing from others that safety regulations are being enforced boosts confidence.

Travel brought a respite from the stress of the pandemic. These summer travelers reported having moments of serenity in which they felt like everything was back to normal. The travel itself was even normal-seeming, albeit with less people and amenities available.

Travelers are spending less money on their trips, largely due to the unavailability of amenities they normally spend on. With services like 5-star restaurants and spas closed, and many attractions, as well, travelers spent far less than normal on their trips.

While the timing of their next trips remains uncertain, these travelers are still doing travel research online or asking for recommendations from friends and family. In fact, the anticipation of less travelers and less crowds further motivates them to take their next trip.