Americans care more about traveling companions than where they’re going

The last two years of living in the midst of a pandemic have triggered some fairly predictable shifts, as well as totally unforeseen shifts, in the collective mindset of American travelers.

Last summer, Americans were largely on road trips and traveling close to home, due to the myriad international entry restrictions and general uncertainty surrounding the instability of the travel scene.


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This year, as the world reopens more widely, many people are eager to go abroad again and travel overall is expected to approach pre-pandemic levels, but it seems that the attention of travelers in the planning for their experiments strayed from what we might expect.

Findings from new research by the University of Florida agency at UF, conducted in partnership with Carnival Cruise Line, found that travelers prioritize WHO they are on vacation with, rather than OR they are in fact directed.

In the social listening study that looked at 21.3 million online uses of key travel terms, around one in five mentions of summer vacation included references to doing it all together and focused on spending quality time with loved ones, whether it’s someone’s partner, family members or buddies.

“What we perceived anecdotally was confirmed by a dive into the language Americans use around travel,” said Dr. Rachel Fu, director of the Eric Friedheim Institute of Tourism and chair of the Department of Tourism, hospitality and event management at the University. from Florida. “Americans’ ideal destination for summer travel can now be summed up as ‘anywhere and everywhere,’ with few expressing their enthusiasm for specific places, and instead pledging to bring their best friends, their loved ones and family at…anywhere.”

The study says that about one in 10 mentions on the internet of summer vacation alludes to a tropical, seaside or sunny destination, but otherwise there is little indication of the specific traveler destination. Online travel discussions, however, indicate a desire for trips filled with activities, attractions, and multiple stops along the way.

Friends enjoy a glass of wine in Guanajuato
Friends enjoy a glass of wine in Guanajuato. (photo via Guanajuato Tourism)

New terminology has also emerged as a product of the pandemic-era forced lockdown lifestyle. The research found that Americans are now desperately looking for a “vacation,” which is basically getting away just about anywhere, as long as it’s outside of their home.

The wording represents a mental shift from the comparable term “staycation” (because who can bear to stay put longer?!), which had been widely used before COVID-19. In fact, usage of this particular label has dropped significantly since 2020, according to the study, dropping 41% year-over-year.

“Bringing loved ones together for a fun, stress-free vacation is what we do, so we’re glad to see today’s traveler crave it,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “On a Carnival cruise, we take care of all the details — transportation, catering, entertainment and more — so our guests can focus on what’s really important — quality time with those they love. . From unforgettable vacations and long weekends to life-changing celebrations and multi-generational reunions, our cruises aim to create memorable vacations together.