Last year, pre-coronavirus, only 35% of travelers were concerned about travel safety. Trip worries included health, street crime, terrorism, traffic and civil unrest.

This year, during the coronavirus pandemic, 54% of travelers said they’re concerned about health — and their worries are overwhelmingly coronavirus related: 41% fear being quarantined or not being able to return home, 29% worry about being infected with coronavirus and 12% worry about trip cancellation.

Moving down the list of concerns in 2021: 7% getting sick (other than coronavirus), 5% having an accident and 3% civil unrest or terrorism.

This was just one of the surprising finds of Global Rescue’s 2021 Travel Survey. Every year, Global Rescue, a leading travel risk and crisis response provider, conducts a survey of current and former members.

“Our members are some of the most experienced travelers in the world,” said Daniel Richards, CEO of Global Rescue. “The annual travel survey confirms travelers need assurances that they can return home safely.”

Concerns Diminish By Summer

By summer 2021, travelers will be less worried about travel safety. The survey found three out of four respondents (77%) are less or much less concerned about travel safety for the last half of 2021 (July to December).

“Traveler confidence is growing stronger, and that’s good news for the travel industry,” he said.

What has changed? The global vaccine rollout is helping boost consumer confidence. The number of cases is lower, hospitalizations are down and positive tests have decreased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Countries are also more vigilant about protecting visitors and residents, with many instituting mandatory testing before departure and before return. Mask mandates and social distancing requirements are the new normal, and have even had a positive effect on flu prevention. Flu activity is unusually low for this time of year, the CDC said in its latest weekly U.S. influenza surveillance report.

Domestic Travel First

The majority of respondents expect to go on their next overnight, multi-day domestic trip greater than 100 miles from home by June 2021. Trip timing estimates are:

  •  37% before the end of March
  • 32% sometime between April and June
  • 17% sometime between July and September
  • 8% sometime between October and December
  • 5% not until 2022 or after

International travel will pick up soon after. Nearly 6 out of 10 respondents (57%) expect to travel internationally sometime between spring and winter 2021. International travel estimates include:

  •  10% before the end of March
  • 19% sometime between April and June
  • 19% sometime between July and September
  • 18% sometime between October and December
  • 29% not until 2022 or after

What Travelers Want

According to survey results, getting a COVID-19 vaccination (47%) and open borders (34%) are the two most important conditions travelers need in place to feel safe enough to travel internationally.

“Travelers will feel safe enough to plan trips and vacations when they are vaccinated, when borders are open and managed in a predictable way, and when they know they’ll be able to get home if the worst happens,” he said. 

About the Global Rescue Travel Survey 

Global Rescue, a leading travel risk and crisis response provider, conducted a survey of more than 2,000 of its current and former members between Jan. 26-31, 2021.