Travel in a Covid-19 world: Reader Survey November 2020

Our latest survey of the Wanderlust audience reveals current attitudes to travel, plans for 2021 and the determining factors in choosing destinations and travel companies

92% have already travelled since lockdown with 20% going overseas

Almost all see themselves travelling in 2021 – 42% in the Summer and 39% in the Spring

62% will be booking at shorter notice than usual as places open up

44% will still travel even if they have to quarantine

75% are prepared to pay for a test if required

Domestic and short haul lead the way in the short term but long-haul up by 30% from July

Only 16% are feeling cautious about when and where to travel


Here at Wanderlust we have been busy asking our readers what they feel about travel in these unprecedented and uncertain times. This is the fourth in a series of surveys, and was timed to gauge reaction to the most recent UK lockdowns. We wanted to know how the readers now feel about travel, and when and where will they be travelling.

This survey was conducted from 1-3 November 2020 on the Wanderlust website and is based on 2,014 respondents. 61% of those surveyed are 55+, so a reasonably mature audience.

84% of respondents were from the UK, the rest from the USA, Europe, Australia and India. They are a mix of magazine subscribers and website users.

Please carry on for the results. Interestingly, the desire to travel remains strong, and they are actually feeling less cautious about getting out there than in our last survey. While domestic and shorthaul travel is seen as most attainable short-term there seems to be a big swing towards longhaul again from previous surveys. And more people are prepared to quarantine and to go against FCO advisories. 

Have your views of travel changed?

Despite the uncertain times, only 16% are feeling cautious about when and where they travel. The vast majority are as excited about travel as ever.

People less cautious now (was 43%) and itching to get out there again

Have you travelled since June 2020?

The majority of respondents took advantage of the window of opportunity to take a break, even if that was only domestically.

When do you think you’ll be travelling again?

When asked how long it will be before they are travelling again our respondents were optimistic with the majority stating a season they expect to be travelling in.

Feeling of optimism as only 13% say it’s too early to say

Will you travel even if we need to self-quarantine on return?

Just as our previous survey showed, the urge to travel is so strong that many UK travellers are prepared to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return - this figure has moved upwards in each survey with it now at 44% as compared to 37% last time.

Just under half are prepared to self quarantine!

Will you still travel if there is an FCDO advisory against it?

Only 15% of UK travellers are prepared to travel if the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to a destination - but attitudes are changing as only 8% were prepared to go against an advisory last time

An FCDO Advisory is still the biggest impediment to overseas travel - but attitudes are changing

Are you prepared to pay for a test before you travel to show you are Covid-free?

With an increasing number of destinations and trips asking for evidence of testing Covid-free we wondered how people feel about paying for a private test.


How has Covid-19 affected your choice of destination?

During such uncertain times our readers are putting greater value on the familiarity and security provided by planning trips closer to home, with 56% planning to travel domestically. However, there has been a big shift towards longhaul destinations again, up from 10% last time to 39% this time. And, for many, it's simply about anywhere that is open and 'safe'.

Over half just want somewhere open and safe!

Which of these do you think you’ll travel to in 2021?

With closer to home trips being foremost in respondent’s plans until confidence returns, it’s no surprise to see Europe (71%) and the UK (55%) lead the way in the respondents' travel plans.

Which types of trip will you be looking to do?

There has been little change in the types of trips from our previous surveys. Wildlife and nature holidays are slightly up from last time and, with a readership that is curious about the world, it is no surprise that culture, history and heritage trips are also desired.

Respondents are also looking to dip their toes back in the water with a city break (45%) or other short trip (27%).

Being a Wanderlust reader survey, it is no surprise that many are looking for trekking and walking (40%) or adventure (38%) when planning their trip.  

Self-drive road trips are increasing in popularity at 33% and tours incorporating various elements also show strongly at 31%. Cruise (expedition/adventure/river) is up by 1% to 14% and there is a trend towards camping and campervans at 16%. 

Nature, outdoors and local culture prove attractive options

How will you be travelling?

The high proportion (73%) of respondents who will be making independent arrangements is no surprise given the strong showing of domestic and close to home tourism.

However, the number joining small group tours is down from 45% in the last survey with a number of respondents expressing concern over group sizes and whether other members of the group would have been tested. Some solo travellers commented that they would want their own room. 

The 37% looking for tailormade arrangements is the same percentage as previous surveys.

Small group travel gone down slightly: probably due to concerns over group safety

What are you looking for when booking?

Respondents are now most concerned with ability to get their money back if they cancel, and also by the safety aspect of the trip.  They want flexibility with cancellations, deferments and amendments. Insurance is also very much on people’s minds.

(*scale of 1-8 with 8 being the most important)

Safety and Flexibility are key

When do you think you will be booking your travels for 2021?

With so much uncertainty over travel there is no consensus on booking with a quarter simply saying it's too early to say.

Very mixed responses, not surprisingly

Do you think you will you be...

Perhaps not surprisingly, 60% say they will be booking at short notice, taking advantage of opportunities and lessening the risk of cancellation. However, 53% think they will still be planning well ahead - the overlap is presumably where people will do some trips at short notice, but big trips will require more planning and research. 

Which country is top of your wish list

Japan is a perennial favourite with Wanderlust readers, was actively marketing its regions pre-pandemic, and has had positive publicity regarding its handling of the crisis. 

Most of the other destinations in the list are known for either the great outdoors and eco credentials or for their culture. Australia has risen up the chart to number two following recent publicity over getting the pandemic under control. And Costa Rica (number 3) is open, known for its nature and seen as safe. All are longhaul with the exception of Italy.