U.S. Travelers Are Back in the Saddle Again. But They've Adapted to a New Reality – NPR

After surging coronavirus cases during the spring scuttled a much-anticipated cruise trip to Montreal, Nate Burglewski and his extended family really wanted to gather this summer – while also staying safe.

The trip had to meet a few requirements: a destination that wasn’t too far for elderly relatives in the Midwest, had strict local coronavirus safety measures and offered lots of outdoor activities. Burglewski and his wife live in upstate New York, while other relatives are scattered across the country.

“Everyone is vaccinated and got them as early as we could. With the delta variant, we still decided to be very cautious. We did self-quarantines and all got tested the week before,” he says.

They ended up meeting in Indiana, renting a vacation home and spending a lot of time outside.

“It all worked out,” he says.

After losing out on big trips in 2020 because of the pandemic, lots of Americans are making similar decisions — and making up for lost time.

“After more than a year of isolation or being limited to local activities, people showed this pent-up demand for travel,” says Larry Yu, a professor of hospitality management at George Washington University.

This strong desire to travel has driven new trends in the industry – some of which may be here to stay. Like Burglewski’s family, people are flocking to outdoor activities, rural areas and private vacation rentals and are showing less interest in hotels and international and urban destinations.

And early evidence shows that despite the delta variant and still-high cases of infection in the U.S., Americans are planning to continue to travel from now to the end of the year.

“We fully expect that leisure demand, especially on the weekends, continues to be strong in the fall and winter,” says Jan Freitag, director of hospitality analytics in the U.S. for CoStar Group.

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