Skift Take

Despite the surge of Omicron, 45 percent of Americans traveled in December. In particular, nearly 6 percent of all December trips were to another country, marking the highest rate since the pandemic started. And looking ahead to 2022, Americans are optimistic about traveling more.

The U.S. travel sector took a blow from Omicron, but the effect was mild. According to Skift Research’s newly released U.S. Travel Tracker: December 2021 Highlights report, 45 percent of Americans traveled in December. Despite the typical holiday travel season, this was 2 percentage points lower than September, when the summer vacation was wrapping up.

Omicron was clearly behind this dip. However, if we compare the number to the 46 percent travel rate in January 2020, before the pandemic hit, and the 29 percent travel rate in December 2020, when Delta was spreading wildly in the country, we see a much more normalized Covid impact. 

Outbound travel continued to gain momentum, with international trips accounting for 5.6 percent of all trips in December, the highest since March 2020. Despite the continued growth this year, however, the last mile of international travel will take much longer to reach. In the Skift Research Global Travel Outlook 2022 report, we estimate that globally, cross-border trips in 2022 would be still 64 percent below the 2019 level. U.S., while standing out as one of the strongest recovering markets for international trips, won’t be able to reach the pre-Covid level any time soon.

Skift Research introduced a monthly U.S. travel tracking survey in January 2020 to examine the travel penetration rates and detailed travel behavior of the U.S. population. In addition to the factual travel occurrences, we also asked respondents their perceptions on the macro-level economic condition as well their personal financial and travel outlook. We switched the survey to every other month in 2021. As we move through different phases of Covid-19, our tracking survey captures the fluctuations of consumer travel behavior and intent in real time.

In our newly released U.S. Travel Tracker: December 2021 report, we highlight new and ongoing trends in travel incidences, consumer sentiments and future travel intents in the pandemic world, distilled from our September Travel Tracker survey.

Learn More

What You’ll Learn From This Report

  • Travel incidences, January 2020–December 2021
  • December travel highlights
  • Covid impacted travel, January–December 2021
  • Changing consumer sentiments on the economic outlook, February 2020–January 2022
  • Consumer intent for 2022 travel
  • Remote work trend and its impact on travel and mobility
  • Covid vaccine rate and its impact on travel

This is the latest in a series of reports and data products that Skift Research puts out to help you analyze the impact of the coronavirus on the travel industry. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 200 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

After you subscribe, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep dives on key travel brands. You will also be able to access our proprietary Skift Recovery Index and Skift Health Score data and reports.


Get Skift Research

Skift Research products provide deep analysis, data, and expert research on the companies and trends that are shaping the future of travel.

See What You're Missing

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: consumer behavior, consumer sentiment, consumer travel trends, covid-19, skift research

Up Next

Loading next stories