Tripadvisor’s new Winter Travel Index reveals where Americans are heading over the coming holiday and broader winter seasons. Using first-party site data and a consumer sentiment survey, the final installment of the Tripadvisor Travel Index for 2021 indicates that over half (55 percent) of Americans are planning on traveling this winter. By comparison, this percentage is up from 50 percent who traveled during the same season in 2020, but below the 63 percent who did so in 2019.
Amid the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic, 24 percent of Americans are still undecided about winter travel plans. About one-third (30 percent) have already booked their trips, but roughly three-quarters (74 percent) of those who haven’t done so are waiting until November or December to pull the trigger. So, there may be a wave of last-minute bookings during the cold-weather season, a trend which we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.
The Winter Travel Index found that the vast majority of U.S. travelers (94 percent) are keeping their trips domestic during the coming season. Continuing the COVID-era trend of Americans exploring more of their own country and seeking out new domestic experiences, more than one-third (37 percent) of these travelers will head to a destination they’ve never visited before, and 42 percent have booked a tour or activity.
Where Are Winter Travelers Headed?
As Allianz Travel Insurance also determined through a recent study, New York City is the leading destination of choice for U.S. travelers this winter, back on top for the first time since the pandemic’s onset. An iconic winter destination, NYC’s streets and buildings turn out trimmed in decorations and twinkling holiday lights, department stores install elaborate window displays, the towering Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is ornamented and lit, and much more.
In fact, this year, the Big Apple emerged as both the #1 most popular destination and the home of the #1 most-booked experience this winter. The rest of the top 10 list is dominated by warm-weather and beach cities, indicating that plenty of people prefer to escape the winter chill to sunshine, surf and sand.
Top 10 Domestic Winter Destinations
1. New York City, New York
2. Orlando, Florida
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Key West, Florida
5. Miami Beach, Florida
6. Nashville, Tennessee
7. Chicago, Illinois
8. Anaheim, California
9. Los Angeles, California
10. Savannah, Georgia
Family spending their winter vacation in a warm-weather destination and sporting Santa hats. (Photo via iStock / Getty Images / amriphoto)
Tripadvisor noted a shift from the seaside destinations that were trending in its Fall Travel Index, like Honolulu, Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach, toward larger and more populous cities. Other trend differences from those seen in the fall edition include an increased interest from Americans in traveling overseas, probably in response to the reopening of more international borders to U.S. travelers. Actually, most of the fastest-growing destinations since the publication of the Fall Travel Index are international ones.
10 Fastest-Growing Destinations Among U.S. Travelers
1. Paris, France
2. London, United Kingdom
3. Rome, Italy
4. Naples, Italy
5. Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands
6. Soufriere, St. Lucia
7. Freeport, Maine, United States
8. St. John’s, Antigua
9. San Pedro, Belize
10. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
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