How U.S. travelers are adapting to COVID-19

New survey shows that U.S. travelers are forging ahead with their vacation plans and adjusting to the new realities of travel


Young woman with mask holding passport at the airport Photo © eggeeggjiew / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Media Release: Despite the emergence of new variants of COVID-19, U.S. travelers are forging ahead with their vacation plans. According to a new survey* from travel insurer World Nomads, 55% of respondents have already taken a trip this year and 15% plan to do so by the end of the year.

“Travelers are taking extra precautions, but that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm for travel,” says Anna Gladman, CEO of World Nomads. “In fact, our summer policy sales were at a record high since the start of the pandemic, and so far, autumn sales are more than double than what they were last year.”

The survey showed that travelers who have already taken a trip this year experienced a different travel landscape, with 30% of respondents saying that they could not be as spontaneous because of COVID-19 measures. In addition, 28% of respondents said that they missed out on experiences because of reduced capacity or closures, and 26% faced restrictions such as mask mandates, quarantines, and social distancing at their trip destinations.

“Instead of holding back from venturing out altogether, travelers are learning to live with the pandemic and adapting to new ways to travel,” says Gladman.

According to the survey, travelers are making bookings with flexible cancellation policies, spending more time researching destinations, and making more advanced reservations for activities, restaurants, and events.

The survey also showed that people are adjusting their travel choices to prioritize safety, with the majority opting for domestic travel and activities such as beaches, relaxation, and national parks and wildlife reserves, which allow for social distancing and crowd control. In fact, 80% of survey respondents chose to get to their destination by a car, either a personal or a rental vehicle.

COVID-19 is still top of mind, however, with travelers stating COVID-19 cases at trip destinations, new variants of the COVID-19 virus, and restrictive entry requirements as their top travel concerns. Almost half of travelers said that would be less likely to travel because of the Delta variant, with travelers aged 35 and above more likely to play it safe compared to the more fearless 18 to 34 year-olds. Older travelers were also more likely to purchase travel insurance for future trips compared to the younger generations.

“With the ever-evolving situation, travelers have to do a lot of extra research on what’s safe, what protocols they should follow, and where they can actually go,” says Gladman. “Since there’s still a lot of uncertainty, a travel insurance plan can serve as a backup for any type of emergency, including if you catch COVID-19 while traveling.”

For more information on World Nomads’ travel insurance plans, visit

Key statistics from the World Nomads survey

  • 55% of respondents have taken a trip in 2021; 15% are planning to by the end of the year.
  • Respondents’ top travel concerns were related to COVID-19 and communal health and safety, including new variants of the COVID-19 virus, COVID-19 cases at the destination, and entry requirements such as testing, quarantine, and vaccinations.
  • When asked how differently they planned a pandemic versus a pre-pandemic trip:
    o 29% said they booked hotels, flights, or tours with flexible cancellation policies;
    o 25% said they spent more time researching destinations;
    o 24% said that they had to make more advanced reservations for activities, restaurants, and events; and
    o 23% said they prepared backup plans in case of an emergency.
  • 23% of 18 to 34 year-olds said they were hesitant to travel compared to 38% of 25 to 54 year-olds, and 58% of those aged 55 and above.
  • Midwesterners proved to be the bravest bunch, with 58% saying that they weren’t hesitant about travel, compared to only 38% of those hailing from states located in the West, the region most likely to play it safe.
  • 48% of respondents who had already taken a trip this year said that visiting friends and family was a top priority; 60% traveled for relaxation; 44% said that they were planning some beach time and 38% chose wildlife and national parks as an activity.
  • 57% chose a personal car as the way to get to their destination; 23% chose a rental car and 43% traveled by plane.
  • 30% of those who traveled said that they could not be as spontaneous because of reduced capacity or advance reservations required; 29% of those who traveled said that they missed out on experiences because of reduced capacity or closures.
  • 65% of people ages 55 and above said that they’re likely to buy travel insurance for their next trip compared to 46% for those ages 35 to 54, and 38% for travelers ages 18 to 34.
  • 39% of survey respondents said that trip cancellation was the most important component of travel insurance; 32% said 24/7 emergency assistance, and 29% chose COVID-19 coverage.

*Survey of 305 U.S. travelers conducted by World Nomads in August 2021.

Media contact:

Lisa Cheng
Communications Manager
Phone: (510) 806-9466

About World Nomads
World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tip,s and specialized travel insurance for independent and adventurous travelers. Our online global travel insurance allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.