After a low-key 2020 holiday season, most Americans are ready to celebrate the 2021 holidays with friends and family. Get ready for lots of shared meals, good conversation, and, yes, lots of travel.
In a recent survey, 69 percent of respondents reported that there are more holiday gatherings and social events planned for this year than there ever were before the pandemic. Whether this is because of a new appreciation for friends and family after the COVID shut-down or simply an increased need for socialization after so much time spent alone during the pandemic, most of us are excited to get together this holiday season.
Forty-one percent of our panelists say that they did not attend any holiday parties or gatherings in 2020 because of recommended COVID-19 safety guidelines. But as early as October 2021, 87 percent of those surveyed already had plans to attend at least one holiday gathering, celebration, or party between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
And just how are people planning to get to and from their holiday gatherings? Here’s how Americans are traveling for the holidays in 2021.
How Americans are Traveling for the Holidays
The preferred methods of transportation for the 2021 holiday season are:
Driving their own car
Traveling by airplane
Rideshare and Taxi Services
#1. Driving Their Own Car
More Americans plan to use their own car over any other transportation option in 2021. Seventy-three percent of survey respondents agreed that they would be driving their cars more this holiday season due to continuing COVID-related concerns. Even as we get more comfortable with the idea of meeting with friends and family again (thanks to the distribution of COVID vaccines), we’re still leery of getting in confined public transportation spaces with strangers.
And many people will be traveling long distances to see their loved ones. Fifty-eight percent of survey participants said they plan to travel out of state for at least one event this holiday season. Of those, more than two-thirds (67 percent) are planning to drive themselves.
These long-distance trips can create additional road hazards as fatigue sets in for drivers. If you plan to make a long-distance drive this holiday season, please get plenty of sleep the night before and plan regular breaks along your route.
#2. Traveling by Airplane
Airplanes are still a popular method of holiday travel across the US. With the country being so large, sometimes airline travel is the only logical method of transportation.
But that doesn’t mean Americans are comfortable traveling by plane this holiday season. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed are planning to avoid airline travel during the 2021 holidays due to COVID concerns, particularly as new, more contagious variants emerge.
#3. Public Transportation
The United States might not have the best public transportation in the world, but in many parts of the country, it’s still a viable option.
Cities like New York and Chicago offer reliable subway transportation to residents and visitors. Trains and buses might also be an option for longer-distance trips depending on where you live.
But, like with airplanes, the general public is hesitant to join the masses on public transportation. Seventy-one percent of survey respondents plan to avoid public transportation this holiday season specifically because of COVID.
#4. Using Rideshare Services or Taxis
If your area doesn’t offer a good public transportation system, you might have better luck getting a taxi or using a rideshare service (like Uber or Lyft). Not only are these services more accessible than public transport in most cities, but they also limit the amount of direct contact you’ll have with other passengers since you’ll be sharing the vehicle with only a few people at a time.
Despite the mitigated risk, 71 percent of respondents still say they won't be using taxis or rideshare services this holiday season due to concerns about COVID.
Unfortunately, being unwilling to use a rideshare or taxi service, or public transportation for that matter, can actually put you in more danger on the roads during the holidays. Holiday parties are an opportunity for people to relax, enjoy each other’s company, and (very often) have a drink...or two...or more.
Eighty-three percent of Americans surveyed said that they are “likely” or “very likely” to consume alcoholic beverages at holiday events this year. And since alcohol impairs judgment, it’s hard to tell when you’ve had too much to drink.
With drunk driving killing more than 10,000 Americans per year, it’s a serious concern for all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Drinking and driving is never acceptable. If you’re not comfortable getting a taxi or rideshare after having a few drinks at a holiday party, make other arrangements in advance. Get a hotel within walking distance of the venue or arrange a designated driver for your small group of trusted friends.
Safe Travels to You and Yours this Holiday!
Whatever your preferred method of transportation this holiday season, be proactive about your safety.
If you’ll be driving yourself and/or other passengers, make sure you’re prepared for the unique hazards of the holiday driving season. An online defensive driving course can give you a refresher on safe driving practices while teaching you advanced techniques for avoiding collisions with other drivers who may not be as vigilant as you are.
Cheers to a safe and happy holiday season in 2021!