After a long pandemic year, the overwhelming majority (92%) of Americans will travel, or already have, in 2021, with 52% going as soon as this summer, according to the Priceline Work-Life Balance Report.
Priceline surveyed 1,000 full- and part-time employees to examine consumer thoughts around paid time off (PTO) in 2020 compared to 2021, identify trends on how the modern workplace impacts Americans’ desire to travel and how they travel, and determine how Americans plan to use their PTO.
Americans traveled less than ever before in 2020 and felt the loss in more ways than one. Only one in five (21%) Americans used all of their PTO in 2020, down from 30% in 2019, with 30% of those who didn’t use all their PTO holding off in hopes that they’d be able to travel later and 28% planning to carry over their unused days.
More than half (54%) of those who didn’t use their days off regret not taking them, representing a significant change from the one in five (21%) who felt that way in 2019, according to findings from a 2019 Priceline survey. Parents were most likely to note their mental (78%) and physical health (73%) would have benefited from taking a break.
Those with regrets feel they “wasted” their newfound flexibility (35%) and regret not working from different/new places (32%). Two-fifths (40%) regret not taking more trips, especially younger generations (49% of Gen Z and 51% of millennials, compared to 37% of Gen X and 22% of Boomers).
“Now that we’ve all felt the very real burnout that happens when we don’t take the time to recharge, the value of vacation is no longer abstract—it’s fact,” said Priceline CEO Brett Keller.
Work hard, travel hard
A recent survey revealed that four in 10 (40%) of Americans prefer to work from home full-time. A result of embracing this new lifestyle? The rise in popularity of workcation trips, which combine work and vacation.
A whopping 75% of people say remote work has made work-life balance more achievable, with 72% enjoying not having to go into the office so they could work from different locations, and 66% feeling encouraged to explore new destinations.
Those working remotely in the West (75%) and Northeast (72%) agree that remote work has encouraged them to explore new places, compared to those in the South (61%) and Midwest (59%).
A total of 60% of respondents say remote work has encouraged them to blur the lines and take more workcations. Meanwhile, 34% report extending a trip because they have the ability to work from anywhere.
Parents were especially inclined to take advantage of remote work and travel. They were 55% more likely than non-parents to say that remote work encouraged them to take more workcations. Not only that, parents did more traveling last year overall, they were even more likely to have taken a solo trip (14%) in the last year than non-parents (8%).
“This year, the average hotel length of stay increased 12% compared to 2019,” said Keller. “Americans are not only traveling more, but they’re making travel a bigger part of their lifestyles through workcations.”
The year of the vacation
After a housebound 2020, Americans are poised to embrace this freedom with a vengeance, as two-thirds (66%) plan to take full advantage of working remotely by traveling more this year and plan on using more PTO in 2021 compared to any other year (65%). In fact, although their 2020 trips were canceled, more than half (56%) of Americans plan on rescheduling them all this year, with men (60%) more likely to do so than women (51%).
When asked if they plan to travel and are excited to do so, respondents noted “yes:” 78% are excited to travel, and nearly all—92%—are planning to do so.
As Americans start to travel more, they are especially looking to take more meaningful trips—reuniting with loved ones, pursuing their passions or tackling their bucket lists.
Visiting family and friends is a priority for 38%. Essential workers are 40% more likely than non-essential workers to use their PTO to travel more to see friends/family, because the pandemic made them realize the importance of moments with loved ones.
A total of 62% of those with a fixed amount of PTO are taking a trip to a place they’ve never been before, while half (53%) are prioritizing destinations on their bucket lists.
More than three in five (61%) want to take a vacation based on a personal passion, with millennials showing the most interest in doing so (72%).
However, with the onset of a travel surge, the rise in longer workcation trips and prices returning to—and now often exceeding—pre-pandemic levels, 74% of Americans agree that travel deals are important, and that travel packages make working while traveling easier (71%).