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With possible Covid restrictions looming, Americans are eager to hit the road Labor Day holiday weekend

  • Industry surveys and bookings data show that many Americans are at least as eager as in past years, or even more, to get away for the Labor Day weekend.
  • With pandemic news and health recommendations changing daily, some travelers tell industry suppliers they feel this might be their last chance for a real getaway before more lockdowns.
  • Beaches, national parks and other outdoor attractions continue to be big draws.

Wide open spaces like national parks and beaches continue to be popular for long holiday weekend travel.Thomas Barwick | Stone | Getty Images

A surge in Covid-19 infections due to the delta variant may be slowing the rebound from the pandemic, but Labor Day travelers looking for a last summer hurrah — and with the shadow of possible future lockdowns on their minds — are eager to hit the road.

That's despite ongoing concerns about Covid-19 and related restrictions such as destination and venue masking and vaccination requirements, recent studies have shown.

To that point, 75% of people queried by travel site The Vacationer and SurveyMonkey on Aug. 1 said coronavirus remained a "slight" or "large" concern, according to co-founder Eric Jones. Still, Jones said he thinks Labor Day travel is up "because people want to make sure they get something in."

"There is talk about new quarantine rules or lockdowns … so some are worried they're not going to get to travel again," added Jones, noting that in an earlier survey this summer.

The Vacationer found 25% of Americans are planning so-called revenge travel. "That's traveling more than they usually do, just because they were bottled up at home," Jones said. "So, I'm guessing that, for Labor Day, this is one of the last opportunities they're going have for that for this summer."

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In fact, The Vacationer's latest survey found more than 53% of 571 people asked plan to travel for the Labor Day holiday, with 4.03% using public transit, 12.08% flying and 36.95% driving. The finding would mean — if extrapolated to the total U.S. population — that 137 million American adults will travel this weekend, according to the site, an increase from July 4 and more than 10% more than the total for Easter and Memorial Day weekends combined.

For its part, Tripadvisor found that just 31% of Americans it surveyed plan to go away this weekend, on par with levels in 2020 (32%) and even 2019 (35%).

Elizabeth Monahan, senior communications manager and U.S. travel expert at the site, said that "in terms of a long weekend, this is pretty consistent." Tripadvisor found that 86% of travelers will stay within the U.S., with 45% traveling locally by car or train and 41% taking domestic flights. Just 14% plan to travel abroad.

Among age cohorts, millennials are the most eager to travel, at 38%, followed by Gen X at 32% and Gen Z at 31%. Older Americans are far less apt to head out this week, with only 13% of baby boomers taking trips.

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