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Why local escapes will be key to travel’s recovery

Almost a year into the pandemic and Americans have begun to settle into this current normal. And while the vaccine roll out has fostered a renewed sense of hope and dreams of traveling to far-off destinations, for many of us that is too far off—we need a change of scenery and a break from it all, sooner rather than later.

Travel has been long known to help relieve stress, which may play a large role in why Americans look to travel as an essential part of their lives. Vox Media wanted to understand how travel is evolving in the wake of the pandemic— and in our new report, we found that humanity is ever resilient and ever nomadic.

Even with all the talk of travel stopping, research shows 60% of Americans have either traveled or plan to travel in the very near future….To break it down:

  • 22% have traveled recently for pleasure
  • 38% haven’t traveled yet, but plan to in the next 6 months
  • 40% of Americans haven’t travelled and won’t until they are vaccinated

While the tourism and travel industries were heavily impacted, research shows that in 2021 there will be a large opportunity when focusing on the mental health benefits of travel, as well as local travel and experiences. The Vox Media audience, in particular, is more likely to engage in these new forms of travel.


The mental and emotional toll of the pandemic along with the need to unplug from our daily lives has built up over the past year which is likely to spur a bounce back in travel and tourism amongst travel intenders and travelers alike.

Traveling (even when following Covid-19 safety protocols) may have helped folks feel less overwhelmed with everything going on in the world. And folks see the benefits: 72% said they needed time to unplug and think they will need it again soon.

Reasons to travel primarily remain the same with the need for different scenery, de-stressing, and making new memories indexing the highest.


The Vox Media audience has always had a deep appreciation for travel — 71MM users were leisure travelers as of March 2020. This trend continues despite Covid-19, with 76% of the Vox Media audience looking to go on a local vacation in the next 12-months.

At a demographic level, men and parents also pop as key audiences that want to stay local:

Q: I appreciate local tourism now more than ever (Top 2 Shown:)

  • Men: 60% (vs women at 51%)
  • Parents: 59% (vs non parents at 52%)
  • Eater readers: 72% (vs 53% for non Eater readers)

These positive differences between Vox Media Travelers and Non-Vox Media show how valuable this audience is across the travel and tourism industries. In general, our audiences are also showing increased interest in different ways to travel, such as long term rentals or camping:


Many have been forced to keep vacations close to home, but where you live matters. New Englanders are more likely to stay within a 250 mile radius, whereas those in states like North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas are willing to drive 500 or more miles. There is less variance regionally, but again, those in the western midwest or west coast are more apt to drive longer distances.


Vox Media travelers are also more likely to do activities or engage in cultural experiences while vacationing:

  • 7.1x more likely to go to a comedy show compared to Non-Vox Media travelers
  • 5.4x more likely to go to a concert/gallery opening compared to Non-Vox Media travelers
  • 4.9x more likely to attend live musical performances compared to Non-Vox Media travelers
  • 2.0x more likely to go to a museum/aquarium compared to Non-Vox Media travelers

Brands within these categories are far more likely to reach an in-market audience when advertising on our brands compared to non-readers. Other audiences that are interested in cultural experiences include A35-44, men, parents, and HHI $200K+


There’s some appeal to traveling for everyone, whether it’s the idea of seeing family after several months, or getting away from family after several months. When marketing to folks, consider that:

Even though the pandemic is considered the ultimate stop in our normal lives, it’s time to restart and re-adjust to growing consumer demand.

Methodology: Custom Vox Media quantitative survey fielded via Lucid in November 2020. Sample Size: 300 travel intenders and 567 travelers

*based on N=521 before enforcing respondent quotas