Pent-Up Travel Demand Has A Ceiling

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While travel is bouncing back from the pandemic – and we’re very thankful for that – the ceiling for pent-up travel demand appears to be lower than many of us initially believed. Our recent research found that while two-thirds of Americans will travel somewhere in 2021, only about a quarter (24%) say that they’re going to travel more than they would have in a “normal” year.

So what’s going on here? I like to think of it this way: Let’s say that you missed three trips because of COVID. You’re probably going to take one now, but you’re probably not going to truly catch up. Whether that’s because of lingering virus fears, or whether that’s because of vacation time or the kids’ calendar or your budget, there’s a lot of other things holding people back.

Business and international travel are also significantly lagging domestic leisure travel. So while we are thankful that things are getting better, and we have recently seen some of the highest air travel numbers of the pandemic, they’re still down significantly from 2019. Recent TSA data shows that while they’ve been processing about two million air travelers a day, that’s still about 20 percent below where they were in the first two weeks of July 2019.

It is, though, a great time to get a new travel credit card because issuers are feeling a lot better about the economy and they’ve really opened up a tremendous amount of new incentives. So even if you’re not quite ready to travel yet, we’re seeing some really competitive bonuses that match or in some cases even exceed record highs. So put today’s spending on a new card and earn a great trip tomorrow or next year or whenever it is that you’re ready to hit the road again.

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