What you need to know

With the COVID-19 pandemic still active in the US, the travel industry has been hit hard. The bright spot for travel is in small-scale trips, such as road trips, RVing and camping, and getaways to remote lodging. As the pandemic wears on, these options will continue to have strong appeal among people looking to relax, escape from the stresses of their environment and reconnect with loved ones safely. This is the moment that travel providers need to seize upon if they are to persist through the pandemic.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the local vacation market.

  • How people are traveling during the pandemic and recessionary period.

  • The factors that prevent people from taking a local vacation.

  • The longevity of local vacations post-pandemic.


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

Local vacation: A leisure trip taken within a 4-hour drive of one’s home that includes an overnight stay in separate lodging.

Staycation: A leisure trip in which a person participates in local leisure activities, but returns home every night.

Short vacation: Any leisure trip two or fewer days in length.

Long vacation: Any leisure trip longer than two days in length.

COVID-19: Market context

This Report was written between September 24 and October 13. The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, and nonessential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations. At the time of writing, all 50 states have relaxed restrictions, allowing businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. However, a resurgence of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans.

While there has been activity in the travel sector over the summer, much of this was relegated to getaways to remote areas and road trips. Consumers are persistently worried about pre-pandemic style travel, vexing airlines and depressing hotel revenues. They are, however, eager to travel once they feel safe and able to do so.

Economic and other assumptions

The analysis provided reflects an estimated range of the market’s prospects in light of the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 crisis. This is driven by Mintel analysts’ understanding of consumer behavior in this market, alongside an evaluation of how exposed this sector is to the crisis and how quickly demand will return to previous levels once a degree of normality returns to the market. Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the updated forecasts released by the CBO on July 2, 2020. The CBO expects US GDP to fall by 5.8% in 2020 and recover to 4.0% growth in 2021. The CBO projects the unemployment rate to average 10.6% for the year, with an 8.4% rate for 2021.

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