As Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, new polling finds more people are planning to travel than last year as most Americans gather with people outside their households—including with those who aren’t vaccinated or taking Covid-19 precautions.
A Morning Consult poll conducted October 21-23 found 38% of 2,200 U.S. adults polled planned to travel this November, up from 26% who said the same about November 2020.
The groups most likely to travel are Gen Z (44% traveling in November), those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 annually (43%) and Gen X (40%), while those earning more than $100,000 and Millennials are the least likely to travel (with 32% and 34% traveling, respectively).
Two-thirds (67%) of U.S. adults are planning to gather with friends or family outside their households for Thanksgiving, an Axios/Ipsos poll conducted November 21-23 among 1,023 U.S. adults found.
That includes a majority of Americans across the political spectrum, with 73% of Republicans, 70% of Independents and 63% of Democrats all attending Thanksgiving gatherings.
Of those gathering with those outside their households, 30% of respondents said they’ll be with someone unvaccinated, including 56% of unvaccinated respondents and 22% of vaccinated ones, and 17% don’t know if they will.
A further 38% will be seeing someone who doesn’t regularly wear a mask, 21% are seeing someone “less strict about Covid-19 safety” and 4% plan to see someone who’s been exposed to Covid-19 within the past two weeks, while 20% of those gathering intend to see someone who’s at higher risk for Covid-19.
53.4 million. That’s the estimated number of people who are expected to travel for Thanksgiving between Wednesday and Sunday, according to AAA. That’s on top of travel that takes place outside of those dates, with the Transportation Security Administration already reporting its highest number of passengers screened in airports since the pandemic began on Friday.
What To Watch For
The increase in travel is expected to continue through the holiday season and into 2022. Morning Consult found 44% of respondents are expected to travel for the holidays and 63% will travel in December (including non-holiday travel), up from 35% and 59% in 2020, respectively. Deloitte found in September that 42% of Americans plan to travel between Thanksgiving and mid-January, and a November Harris poll found 48% of respondents have either made travel plans for 2022 or intend to do so.
While holiday travel is up over 2020, Morning Consult’s polling found it still likely won’t rebound to pre-pandemic levels. The poll found 34% prefer not to travel this holiday season, which is down compared with 38% who said the same in 2020, but still higher than the 21% who preferred not to travel pre-pandemic.
What We Don’t Know
How rising Covid-19 cases could affect people’s holiday plans. Nationwide Covid-19 cases have gone up by 27% over the past two weeks, according to public health data compiled by the New York Times, which could affect people’s decision to gather later in the holiday season if the trend continues. The new availability of Covid-19 booster shots to all adults could also have an effect, however, either by helping to bring cases down or giving the vaccinated more confidence in gathering anyway if they feel they’re more protected.
Public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have given the green light to Americans celebrating the holidays with family and friends this year—particularly if they’re vaccinated—after encouraging people to stay home last year before vaccines were widely available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages those gathering for the holidays to get vaccinated if eligible and for the unvaccinated to wear a mask indoors and choose travel options that have a lower risk of Covid-19 transmission, such as driving. In light of the recent rise in cases, Fauci has also encouraged adults to get a booster shot—or their initial vaccine shots—before their holiday gatherings. “We’ve got to be careful,” Fauci told CBS Monday.
Americans Are Traveling Again — Just Not Like They Used To (Morning Consult)