As the weather warms up and lockdowns start lifting, many of us are dreaming of getting away from it all. But what will travel this summer really look like? From staycations to road trips, we take a closer look at how the pandemic has changed travel habits across Europe.
With summer just around the corner, Europeans’ holiday plans are also heating up. However, most travelers don’t plan to stray far from home this year. While close to 9 in 10 adults are planning a holiday, 73% of them intend to stay local and travel within their own country this summer. And when it comes to peoples’ preferred mode of transport, more Europeans than ever before are planning to get out on the open road in their motor vehicles.
Staycations are set to dominate summer travel in Europe, according to research on adults’ holiday plans for 2021*. Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 is the main driver of these changing holiday habits. If it weren’t for the pandemic, 51% of people said they would have travelled abroad this year. But with strict travel restrictions, quarantines and emerging new variants of the virus, it’s no wonder that 57% of survey respondents said that they were concerned about visiting another country.
Ongoing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are proving to be a major deterrent to foreign travel. 62% of respondents said that they were more likely to stay in their own country because of uncertainty about other countries’ travel restrictions. And only a quarter (26%) of people said that they would be willing to quarantine for the sake of a holiday abroad.
Besides impacting where they choose to holiday, the pandemic has also changed the way people travel. With so much uncertainty still in the air, most travelers are looking to book holidays as late as possible. Close to half of all respondents (46%) are opting for spontaneous trips due to COVID-19.
When it comes to reaching their holiday destinations, the open road is clearly where Europeans want to be this summer. A whopping number of travelers, over three-quarters (81%) in fact, plan to travel by motor vehicle. In contrast, just 23% of respondents intend to travel by air and only 17% by train.
So, what’s driving more travelers to get behind the wheel? Freedom and flexibility (55%), safety (50%) and convenience (46%) are the main advantages of driving over other forms of transport, according to our survey respondents. What’s more, two thirds (66%) of Europeans agree that it’s safer to travel via car during the pandemic. And more than half of them (55%) say they feel more secure on the road when driving with a built-in sat nav or navigation app.
These shifting travel habits could have major implications for the way we move. With more people planning to travel by motor vehicles to destinations closer to home, we could be in for a summer of gridlock on European roads. To keep things flowing smoothly, it’s more important than ever for drivers to have access to reliable traffic information, which they can use to outsmart congestion and stay safer on the road.
Finally, although the outlook for travel remains hard to predict, our research has revealed a few interesting trends, including a new appreciation for domestic destinations. Half of all respondents said the pandemic has made them appreciate their country as a holiday destination more. And 48% said they are more likely to holiday in their home country even after the pandemic is over. With the pandemic pushing people to become more creative and flexible with their holiday plans, this summer could be the start of a whole new era for travel.