With February over and hints of spring in the air, many Americans are looking forward to a fresh start. They might even be able to breathe actual fresh air, now that the CDC’s guidance on COVID-19 prevention and transmission calls for relaxed masking guidelines in certain areas. CivicScience data provide a holistic picture of American travelers ahead of the spring vacation season in light of shifting COVID-19 standards and heightened anxiety amid foreign conflict.

It appears that concern about the virus in March 2021 had a greater influence on travel plans than today’s concern about the potential financial impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. Overall, spring travel, including non-vacation and business travel, is up by 10 percentage points compared to this time last year.

In a recent CivicScience survey of 2,700 adults, 36% say they plan to take a spring vacation this year, either within the United States or overseas. Fifteen percent of respondents are still undecided. 

America’s severe concern about being in public places as a result of COVID-19 hit an all-time low at the end of February. At the same time, the percentage of people reporting they are “not at all concerned” about being in public spaces continues to rise. While people who are “very concerned” over-index in likelihood to forgo traveling for a spring vacation, it’s a small percentage of the population. Those with little to no concern about being in public are much more inclined to vacation this spring.

Looking at spring travelers only, most say they will stay in the United States for their trips, but 26% say they will be going abroad. A small portion (9%) say they will travel both within the U.S. and overseas.

In terms of where they will stay, 39% are planning to use a hotel for lodging. Airbnb and other rentals are one of the least likely places spring travelers are planning to stay.

And despite the rising cost of fuel, the majority of travelers (54%) plan to get around during their vacation by car, either their own or that of a friend’s. The next largest grouping intends to use a rental car (13%).

Spring Break Is for the Youngin’s

While not too surprising, spring vacations are a young person’s game, specifically those under 35. Fifty-six percent of Americans between 18 and 34 will take a spring vacation, either outside of the United States or within, while only 30% of Gen X and 22% of over-55’s say the same.

Following suit, young people are the least concerned about the Russia-Ukraine war.

When looking at the number of people not going on a vacation this spring, the unrest in eastern Europe could be a huge factor.

Those who report being very concerned about the conflicts overseas are significantly more likely than those somewhat concerned or not at all concerned about the unrest to say they will NOT be taking a spring vacation this year. Those who were not at all concerned about the war contain a large percentage of survey respondents who do plan to travel for a spring vacation.

Finances had a lesser influence on Americans’ intent to travel for a spring vacation. Those who express the greatest concern about the war’s impact on personal finances are actually the most likely to have plans for spring travel. Not only that, but middle-income families were less likely to travel than lower-income families, which could naturally correlate with age.

However, a new CivicScience stat to watch for the travel industry as it relates to increasing gas prices: 47% of the population say they will reduce the amount they spend on travel overall due to the rising gas prices.

People preparing for a spring vacation make up about one-third of the general population, and the majority of these travelers are going to be under 30. Overall, travel is up this year compared to last year, but despite COVID-19 starting to feel like an afterthought, gas prices could change many people’s plans.