It’s been more than six months of coronavirus education, adjustments, precautions and a rollercoaster of emotions. What we thought “then” and what we think “now” has shifted, too, especially among business and leisure travelers.

By comparing the results of three Global Rescue member surveys, conducted in February, April and September, we uncovered how traveler’s perceptions and plans have changed and how they have stayed the same.


What’s Different


Expect more travel in 2021, not 2020.

The big change in traveler sentiment came from respondent’s expectations about when they plan to make their first trip of more than 100 miles from home.

In April, 85% of survey respondents said they would travel more than 100 miles from home by the end of 2020. Only 13% said their next expected trip wouldn’t be until 2021.

Several months later, the September survey — released a few days before worldwide COVID-19-related deaths surpassed one million — revealed a dip. Specifically, only 60% of respondents planned to travel more than 100 miles from home by the end of the calendar year and 40% didn’t expect to travel that far until 2021.

As the pandemic matured, traveler expectations for upcoming trips diminished as international border closings were extended and news outlets reported COVID-19 case spikes.


What’s The Same


Travelers are willing to take ground-breaking measures to hit the road again.

Traveler willingness to take unprecedented steps to travel and feel safe stayed strong.

In April, more than 90% of survey respondents made it clear they were willing to be screened, tested and have their travel history tracked in order to travel. 

In September, traveler support for ground-breaking pandemic protections and services persisted. For example, 88% of respondents said they want governments or organizations to systematize COVID-19 health and safety programs that include testing, quarantine accommodations, repatriation and trip insurance.

More than 90% of survey-takers want mandatory medical/security safeguards for themselves and all travelers, too. More than 60% of them are willing to pay $50 to $100 or more for that kind of protection.

Family visits will be first.

In April and September, initial trips once survey participants start traveling again will be family vacations, leisure trips to visit friends or destination getaways.

Travel concerns, threats and worries are unchanged.

According to the survey completed in February — more than a month before coronavirus was declared a pandemic — respondents ranked “health/medical issues” as the greatest threat while traveling, followed by crime and terrorism. Respondents to the September survey listed identical concerns and ranked them in the same order.

Travelers cancelled their travel plans.

In April, more than 42% of respondents reported they were forced to cancel their travel plans; 16% said they voluntarily abandoned trips while 27% postponed their trips.

In September, travelers were more specific about the personal and professional opportunities they lost due to the pandemic:

  • 64% gave up a bucket list/adventure trip
  • 53% missed out on a family vacation
  • 32% relinquished a business trip
  • 28% surrendered a couples getaway
  • 21% skipped an anniversary, wedding, honeymoon or birthday trip

Travelers will travel again.

Even at the beginning of the pandemic, travelers were making plans. According to the April survey, 41% expected to make their next trip by July or earlier, 36% planned their initial trip sometime between August and October and 77% expected to make a trip by the end of October.

In September, survey respondents were specifically planning their 2021 travel: 52% were looking at international locations, 35% were considering remote destinations and 40% were planning longer trips or considering an extra trip.

“Travel is part of a human’s genetic makeup. From pilgrimages to grand tours to solo travels, we’ve been exploring, seeing, experiencing, and learning new things since the dawn of time,” said Michael Holmes, director of marketing at Global Rescue. “Coronavirus temporarily slowed adventure, leisure and business travel, but it will return when people feel safe and secure.”

About the Global Rescue Traveler Survey

Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services to enterprises, governments and individuals. The February survey was based on 2,400 responses collected from Global Rescue members between January 22-28, 2020. The April survey is based on 1,300 responses collected from Global Rescue members on April 23-24, 2020. The September survey is based on 2,210 responses collected from Global Rescue members between Sept. 15-19, 2020.