When we asked Boston.com readers how they feel about travel right now, we received several hundred responses via survey, email, and social media.
We asked if readers have traveled this year and if they plan to travel in 2021, where they’ve been, and where they’d like to go. We also asked how their travel habits have changed and what worries them most about the travel industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what they had to say.
Have you traveled in 2020?
Of the nearly 300 readers that answered this question, the results were split pretty evenly — 155 said they have traveled since the coronavirus pandemic and 135 said they have not.
Some haven’t traveled at all.
“You’re crazy if you travel at this time,” wrote RonandDale Leroy. “Stay home.”
Others have stayed in New England, exploring places like Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, the Berkshires, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.
“I traveled to neighboring states and places we could drive to,” wrote Sam, from Boston, adding that he felt safe as long as he remained in New England.
Mike Gratis from Buzzards Bay has taken his motorcycle to New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Another reader rented a private cabin in New England, cooked at at the cabin, and enjoyed outdoor activities.
“I practiced social distancing and wore a mask most of the time when around people I didn’t know,” wrote Gratis. “Any time I noted a place or situation where others weren’t doing the same, I either didn’t go there or I left.”
Other readers traveled outside of New England.
One reader has been touring national parks such Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, Denali National Park & Preserve, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, and Kenai Fjords National Park, all located in Alaska.
“Felt normal for the first time in 2020 and felt perfectly safe,” the reader wrote. “Going to Nevada and Utah in a few weeks for more [national parks] and am not concerned.”
“We absolutely felt safe even while flying,” said Michelle G. from Belmont, who has traveled by plane to Washington, D.C. and Oregon.
Tiffany from Massachusetts flew to Denver, and said the trip went “exceptionally well.”
“I’m currently in Chicago while writing this,” one reader wrote. “Both Logan and O’Hare were wonderfully empty, practically no queue for security and JetBlue sat everyone with an empty seat next to them. Everyone was wearing masks and very chill. This was the best travel I have experienced in years. (We also traveled to Nantucket and Provincetown over the summer and everything was smooth and enjoyable).”
“I am currently traveling through the U.K. (after doing the mandatory 14 day quarantine) and have not felt unsafe for one minute,” wrote Elizabeth from Boston. “Hotels and restaurants are taking all the necessary precautions, and I get the benefit of seeing beautiful places with very few people. Local business owners are grateful for travelers willing to spend money during this time and have gone above and beyond on hospitality. If you are in a position to travel right now, and willing to follow the precautions without complaint, I can’t recommend getting out there enough.”
Here’s how readers have changed their travel habits due to COVID-19
Many readers say they have altered their usual travel plans and habits due to COVID-19. Some have chosen road trips over flights, home rentals over hotels, more remote destinations, and have avoided eating in restaurants.
“Drove to Colorado rather than fly,” wrote one reader. “Rented a stand alone cabin rather than hotel resort. Did mountain hiking and outdoor activities. Felt safe. Bought and cooked own meals rather than eat out.”
“My wife and I usually travel a lot,” wrote another reader. “We have only traveled once since lockdown, and it was to Northern New Hampshire, where we rented a house in the middle of nowhere and barely saw another human for the entire stay.”
“We have a camper,” wrote another. “Did a few trips locally in New England. State parks and a couple of KOA’s. Did not do long trip out west as had been planned.”
“I won’t get on a commercial airplane,” wrote another. “Won’t eat indoors at a restaurant.”
“I haven’t gone on like a three week long vacation to Europe like I’d like, but left the state that I live in? Absolutely! Intend on doing it more? No question!” wrote Andrew Smith.
“The only change is having to buy first class in efforts to stay away from people,” wrote Kay La.
“I have planned to fly and visit my daughter and family in Naples, FL in December,” wrote Catherine Kelleher. “Once I get there will stay put. No restaurants or the like. Nothing to fear if you take the proper precautions.”
Here’s how readers will change their travel habits in 2021.
“Normally I get to Europe at least once each year and that won’t be happening in 2021,” wrote a reader. “Nor will some of my other trips around the U.S. as a tourist visiting friends. I’ll keep my travel limited to places that feel comfortable to me for now.”
“I don’t plan to go to crowded cities or areas, and I won’t stay in hotels with lots of other people,” wrote another. “Instead, we’ll go to more rural or quiet areas and stay in rental homes instead of hotels.”
“I like a mix of U.S. car trips and international flights and usually manage a few of each in a year,” wrote another. “Until a safe and effective vaccine is in wide use, I wouldn’t fly internationally and would limit travel to car travel within the U.S.”
“I have a ‘travel kit’ that includes sanitizer, gloves, wipes, a reusable straw and utensils, a spare face mask and a small UVC sanitizing light that is powered by my phone,” wrote another. “I now pay a lot more attention to what I’m touching.”
But not everyone is changing their habits.
“Will travel the same way as in the past,” wrote one reader.
“Hell no,” wrote another. “I will not travel differently than before.”
Will readers travel in 2021?
Of the readers who answered the question, 135 said “yes,” they will travel in 2021 and 49 people said “no,” they will not. Dozens more wrote “maybe,” saying infection rates and widespread vaccination would play a major part in their decision.
“It’s impossible to say until I see what happens with the virus,” wrote a reader.
“I hope to travel in 2021 if it is safe to do so,” wrote another.
“I may be willing to travel by car but the numbers of new COVID-19 cases would need to be greatly reduced,” wrote a reader.
“Not sure,” wrote another reader. “May go skiing in NH and VT. But it depends on COVID-19 numbers. Will probably look for a camper trailer to avoid staying in hotels.”
“Not until there’s a vaccine,” wrote Ellen Katz.
“Depends on vaccine and COVID-19 rates,” wrote a reader. “Maybe fall 2021.”
“It depends on the state of pandemic in my home state and my potential destination,” wrote another. “Given current state, I can’t see us traveling before mid-2021 at the earliest.”
Some readers were less optimistic about taking a trip in 2021, simply writing, “probably not.”
Where will readers go in 2021?
The virus hasn’t kept folks from dreaming of travel. Here’s where readers will go in 2021.
Some will stay local.
“Will stay local to New England again,” wrote another. “Couldn’t justify getting on a plane.”
“We will probably stay in Mass. as opposed to other farther, exotic locales,” wrote another.
“Perhaps, Cape Cod and locally by car and not by rail/public transportation to keep safe,” wrote another.
“First, I want to go to downtown Boston,” wrote a reader. “I’ve been stuck in Jamaica Plain since March 7th. Next, I hope to visit Rockport, my home from 1975-1985. I really miss the ocean. Then I hope to spend time in Maine in July, as I usually do. I probably would not go to Europe or the UK yet, although I would if not for the virus.”
“Skiing in NH, VT and ME,” wrote another. “Maybe Florida if the numbers are good.”
“Camping in New England, probably,” wrote another.
Others say they want to travel beyond New England, naming the following destinations: Amsterdam Arizona, Asia, Aruba, California, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, Florida, Greece, Hawaii, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, London, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Poland, Punta Cana, Spain, St. Lucia, and the United Kingdom. One reader just wants to go to Disney World.
“We hope to travel to Italy in the fall of 2021 for a month, and maybe do some sailing in the Caribbean in the spring of 2021 if circumstances permit,” wrote a reader.
“Looking to go places where you can be outside and social distance — Colorado, Arizona, California,” wrote another reader.
“We have a lot of weddings that we were supposed to attend to that got pushed to 2021 — so if that doesn’t change, we’ll be going to Ireland for a few of those,” wrote Nancy B., from Boston.
“Turks and Caicos, Maine, I am sure other places as well, those are the ones currently booked,” wrote a reader. “Travel will be different due to some countries or states requiring testing, and some activities being restricted but you can still enjoy nature.”
“Within the U.S.,” wrote another. “Our international travel days are behind us (at least for our family for the next few years).”
What concerns do you have about travel?
When readers were asked about their travel concerns right now, their answers ranged from “none whatsoever” to “everything.”
Readers are worried about the following: contracting COVID-19 and spreading it, inconsistent mask policies among states and people who don’t wear their masks, unclean hotels, rental houses, and planes, civil unrest, dying, becoming stranded in another country or ill far from home, quarantine rules, lack of proper space to socially distance in public, eating safely while traveling, navigating refunds after possible cancelations, indoor air quality, and adequate ventilation in indoor spaces.
“My major concern is the other people who are not taking the virus seriously,” wrote a reader. “I believe that I cannot trust my fellow citizens to do the right thing.”
“Getting on a plane, getting sick overseas, getting stranded out of the country,” wrote another. “Also, being away in the event that our parents get sick.”
“I see people using PPE ineffectively and it spreads from environment to environment so I’m mostly concerned about it lingering on touch points throughout rental houses,” wrote another.
“Too much unpredictability,” wrote a reader. “There’s a lack of consistency in how states and governments are approaching handling the virus — too unpredictable. I don’t want to bring the virus home — I want to be able to continue seeing my family without putting them at risk. It’s not worth it to me.”
“Whether attractions are even open,” wrote a reader. “And if so, are they running normally or only partially. In other words, are there things to do when you travel and do you need to quarantine.”
Several dozen readers wrote “none” when asked if they have any travel concerns.
“Not many as long as everyone remains safe and plays by the rules,” wrote a reader. “Life must go on!”
“Very few [concerns], since the travel industry is taking so many extra steps to ensure safety for travelers,” wrote another.
“The rising coronavirus levels are a concern,” wrote another. “But we cannot live our lives in fear, everyone just needs to take precautions the best they can.”
“As far as traveling, airlines, hotels, etc have done a great job of keeping customers safe,” wrote a reader. “My main concern is that travel doesn’t come back as quickly as projected and as a result, will become more expensive, less accessible, and the world will truly become bigger. Travel is essential for us to be more empathetic, for us to educate ourselves or learn about different cultures and viewpoints. I truly believe that if more people were to travel, that the world would be a more peaceful place.”
Responses have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
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