As spring stretches toward summer, many who have yet to cancel trips because of COVID-19 are still wringing their hands, trying to decide what to do about those looming summer and fall plans. At least that’s what I’ve heard from readers who have reached out for advice.
Which is why I’m continually surprised when I read surveys indicating that travelers are anxious to get back on planes and jet off to far-flung locales. Most of these surveys are conducted by travel industry trade groups, or travel credit cards, or travel insurance websites. In other words, companies with an interest in seeing Americans hit the road after months of sheltering and quarantining. It’s not that I don’t trust the results of these surveys, it’s just that, well, as a professional cynic and part-time curmudgeon, I don’t trust the results of these surveys.
Despite my skepticism, I was still curious to hear how people feel about traveling at the moment, so I created my own (unscientific) survey, which we posted on BostonGlobe.com and shared on social media. Nearly 600 of you — 570 to be exact — were kind enough to respond. Let’s get to the results.
I was most interested in aviation and how comfortable people will feel at the airport and on planes. I posed the question: “When do you think you will feel safe to fly again?” Just over 30 percent said they would feel comfortable flying in six months to a year. I was most surprised to see that more than 22 percent said they would be comfortable flying within three months. (I assumed people would still be nervous in three months.) About 17 percent said they would be willing to fly again within three to six months, another 17 percent said they won’t feel comfortable for at least a year, and 14 percent said they weren’t sure.
Because the cruise industry has been hit harder than the airline industry, I next asked, “Has the pandemic changed your mind about going on a cruise?” About 61 percent said it has, 34 percent said it hasn’t. But this question was more multifaceted than I predicted, because many commented that they wouldn’t go on a cruise before the pandemic, and they definitely won’t go on one now.
The next question was relatively straightforward: “Have you canceled or changed vacation plans this year?” Roughly 82 percent said they have changed vacation plans because of COVID-19, while just over 17 percent said they are keeping plans intact.
A whopping 73 percent said they plan to vacation locally this year, while 12 percent said they’re not, and 15 percent are still unsure of their summer vacation plans.
If they were assured the room was properly cleaned, 45 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable at a hotel. When asked if they would feel safe staying in an Airbnb, 50 percent said they would not. But there was a fair amount of ambiguity on both the hotel and Airbnb questions. In both cases, 25 percent said they were not sure if they would feel safe staying in either a hotel or Airbnb.
One sentiment was clear, and that’s people are ready for a vacation. Despite a potential second wave of the virus and a troubled economy, 80 percent of respondents said they will take a vacation in 2020. These may not be the big vacations and flashy trips we had previously dreamed of, but at this point we could all use a little escape, even if it’s close to the home we’ve been stuck in for months.