Mask restrictions are easing up, vaccinations are rolling out, and summertime travel is looking much more promising (and dare we say, normal?) compared to last year. Of course, international sightseeing and exotic vacations are never far from the minds of travelers—but for the moment, people are still easing their way back into traveling, starting with shorter trips and off-the-beaten path domestic locales, and most importantly, prioritizing reconnecting with family.
One of the hardest parts of social distancing and travel restrictions has been the inability to visit family members, whether they live far away or have had to keep remote for safety concerns, or simply to travel as a family. As the world slowly begins to reopen, family travel and family reunions large and small are what travelers are most excited for this year, and survey findings from Travelocity back this up. So much so that Travelocity officially predicts summer 2021 to be “the season of family reunions,” based on its recent travel survey insights.
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Gallery: Most popular summer destinations for Americans, per Tripadvisor (USA TODAY)
According to Travelocity, socializing with family (followed closely by socializing with friends) is the number-one most-missed activity among survey-takers who haven’t traveled at all since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As traveling becomes a reality again, 69 percent of respondents report having leisure travel plans in the books within the next nine months, and the most common upcoming vacation plans within that group include visiting family (24 percent), hitting the beach (26 percent), taking a road trip (13 percent), sneaking in a weekend getaway (12 percent), and finally an international trip (a small 9 percent). And concrete plans aside, respondents only thinking hypothetically about their next trip are most interested in visiting family (43 percent) over a beach vacation or hopping continents—unless of course these last two travel options bring them closer to relatives.
The biggest factors in determining whether a trip—to reconnect with family or otherwise—is even possible are the safety and cleanliness of accommodations and transportation options at their destination; personally receiving the COVID-19 vaccine; and availability of COVID-19 testing (particularly for respondents based in the Midwest). With that in mind, travelers still prefer travel experiences, like tours and activities, in smaller groups, as crowds present an easy way to spread germs.
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