A spring break-down of the season’s top travel trends

Survey says: many will be vacationing for the first time in a year.

Published March 2021


The impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior has been felt far and wide, but travel has undoubtedly been one of the most affected industries. People reverted back to road trips. They took more solo and family getaways, and opted for professionally managed vacation rentals in remote destinations. Or, they simply stayed home. So now, as vaccine distribution ramps up, the question looms: will travel trends shift again this spring?

We teamed up with Allison + Partners to survey* 1,000 Americans over the age of 18 to try to answer just that. We wanted to see who’s planning to travel (it turns out, most people), where they’ll be going (pack a swimsuit!), and why they feel ready now (a mix of stir craziness and the vaccine rollout).

While some people naturally reported anxious feelings about the year ahead, most U.S. consumers are looking on the bright side and feel hopeful (53%) and thankful (42%) when thinking about 2021. And that, in turn, keeps us optimistic.

Here’s what we discovered.

women booking a vacation rental with Vacasa on her laptop

Photo: BarkleyDoodles

This spring, most people are packing their bags...

  • 59% of Americans say they plan to take a vacation at some point during spring 2021, with 29% traveling for Spring Break specifically.
  • Of those planning to vacation this spring, 73% said they would be traveling for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • People are sticking to their pods: 53% said they plan to travel with their spouse and/or kids, while just 10% plan to vacation with friends.
  • Though non-essential workers commonly have more flexibility with remote work, 77% of essential workers plan on traveling this spring season, compared to 71% of non-essential workers.
  • But, regardless of whether or not people plan to travel in the next few months, the vast majority—3 in 5 consumers—have already or plan to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before hitting the road.
family runs on the beach while on vacation

Photo: Montoya Hudson

...and heading to the water, but still sticking close to home.

  • Most travelers are planning their spring vacation(s) at a beach (57%) and/or lake (25%), like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or Lake Tahoe, while 29% have their sights set on a mountain setting à la Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
  • Most respondents (56%) who plan on traveling say they will stay relatively close, venturing approximately 500 miles away or less from home.
  • For those who have vacationed in the past year, nearly half (46%) will be traveling around the same distance as they have on previous trips, while 41% are planning to take their farthest journey yet.
  • The majority, or 67 percent, of spring travelers say they will change their plans if there is a COVID-19 spike in the area they are planning to visit.
vacation homes on St. Simons Island, GA

Why, you ask?

  • More than half of Americans (54%) say that rest and relaxation is one of their top two motivators for planning a vacation, followed by 43% who listed quality time with friends and family.
  • The top reasons for people deciding to travel for the first time are being cooped up at home for too long (42%) and needing a change in scenery and/or company (39%). Thirty nine percent of respondents also say they’re doing so because they feel safe traveling and 33% because there are COVID-19 vaccines available.
  • Cabin, and partner, fever may be real. More than any other living situation, those who have been living with their significant other during the pandemic say they are traveling for the first time because they’ve either been cooped up at home for too long or they need a change in scenery and/or company (48%).
Yellow stucco vacation home in California with outdoor pool surrounded by cacti

If you’re looking to safely hit the beach or relax in an alpine or lakefront cabin this spring, check out our selection of Vacasa rentals across 400+ markets to find the perfect home—and destination—for you. And, as always, when traveling to a new place, remember to follow safety guidelines and do your homework on local closures and COVID-19 regulations in advance.

Photo: Kelly Barcus

* Allison+Partners surveyed 1,000 US consumers over the age of 18. Panel was sourced from Lucid and the survey was hosted in Qualtrics. Fielding took place in February and March 2021.

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