Updated Nov 27, 2021 - Economy

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

  • "Bleisure travel" — tacking a few leisure days onto a business trip — isn't new. But over the past year, that idea has flipped. Now, people are adding remote working days to their vacations.
  • "The pandemic has reshaped society. And I think how Americans travel for the holidays may be one of those lasting changes," Mike Daher, Deloitte's vice chairman of U.S. transportation, hospitality and services, tells Axios.

Details: Overall, an estimated 53.4 million people are traipsing through airports or sitting in traffic jams this Thanksgiving weekend, says AAA — very close to 2019 levels. And there's evidence people are stretching out their holiday travel, and planning more trips before year-end.

  • Airbnb says bookings for long-term stays during the holidays are up nearly 70% in the U.S., compared to the same time in 2019.
  • It expects that trend to extend past New Year’s into 2022.
  • CLEAR, which runs biometric security kiosks at many airports, says the median trip length of its members has doubled in 2021 vs. 2019.

The extended holiday travel is driven, in part, by people blending travel and work.

  • Working vacationers plan to take twice as many trips, and to stay longer, than those who intend to disconnect for the holidays, according to a Deloitte survey.
  • Three in four workers said they'll add at least one day to their holiday trips and 38% say they'll add three to six days.
  • They also say they'll increase their vacation travel budget because of their company's work-from-home policies.

What they're saying: Younger, tech-savvy workers are behind the working holiday vacations, Daher explains.

  • "This younger generation wants a different lifestyle when it comes to work. They want to travel more, experience life, and enjoy the flexibility that older generations aren't accustomed to."

The bottom line: Younger workers might have fewer vacation days than their older colleagues, but remote work allows them to spend the holidays with their loved ones anyway.

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