Study Reveals COVID’s Effect on How We Vacation

By Brad Goldman

We noticed a trend this summer: Our coworkers were driving to nearby vacation destinations and working remotely from there. We were curious to see if this was more of a macrotrend, so we surveyed more than 1,000 ParkMobile users to find out how their vacations changed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Here is what we found.

Work has changed, and so has vacation. Nearly half of our users told us that their jobs had instituted a work-from-home policy in response to COVID-19. Ninety-five percent of respondents said their vacation plans changed. But 43 percent of them went on at least one vacation this summer.

Vacations are fewer, closer, shorter, and more productive. The number of people traveling decreased in 2020. However, 80 percent did travel. Seventy-four percent of vacationers reported they traveled a shorter distance than in the past. The average vacation length decreased by ~2.5 days (about a 28 percent decrease). We saw more remote work and the number of people who said they worked during vacation tripled.

It was the summer of the road trip. The vast majority of people made their summer trips in personal vehicles. The amount who reported “always” traveling by personal vehicle increased by 56 percent. Conversely, more people stopped using rental cars and ride-sharing. The number of people who will not travel by plane nearly doubled. The increase in personal vehicle use fits with closer vacation destinations.

Though every destination had fewer visits, outdoor destinations remained relatively popular. Our previous survey and internal analytics showed high beach activity. This study confirmed it–nearly 70 percent of vacationers surveyed visited a beach this summer. Not surprisingly, vacations to amusement parks, cities, summer camps, and international destinations all saw larger decreases.

What was the most popular travel destination this summer? Nearly 80 percent of vacationers made time to see their families–a heartwarming statistic for 2020. You can see the full ParkMobile vacation study here.

Brad Goldman is VP of analytics with ParkMobile.