It’s no surprise that travel looks very different this summer (as it did last summer). With so much having changed and impacted the way we move around in our day to day lives, travel is no exception to this ‘new normal’. I found a report from Expedia.ca that was published during the summer of 2020 which still holds true today. It dives into the emerging trends and behaviours of Canadians as restrictions ease and travellers slowly venture back into the travel space, beginning with exploring the many beautiful parts of our own backyard. Results from the report include:
- Around a quarter of Canadians expressed they will likely take a road trip this summer
- Interest in domestic summer stays is up 30 percent year-on-year, making up around 85 percent of hotel searches overall in June
- Demand for intra-provincial stays are on the rise and are up almost 20% compared to last year
- Flexibility is key: 97 percent of stays booked in June were refundable rates, up nearly 20 percent year-on-year
- Health and safety, avoiding crowds prioritized over price
“We know that Canadians miss travel and are looking for information on how and when to travel in a responsible and safe way,” says, Mary Zajac, PR Manager at Brand Expedia. “That’s why we’ve been working hard to make it easier for travellers to find the information they need to navigate the summer travel season, such as flexible, refundable rates and the new cleaning policies hotels are rolling out. We want travellers to have peace of mind whenever they’re ready to travel again.”
Read on for more insights and tips from the Expedia 2020 Summer Travel Report.
Summer travellers staying closer to home
Travelling within Canada has been a popular choice of summers past; an opportunity to make the dollar go the farthest, and this year is no exception. Though this year, Canadians are faced with a new environment of restrictions and limitations as the country slowly and cautiously returns to a ‘new normal’. According to data from Expedia.ca, domestic summer travel searches have increased by 30 per cent year over year and around 85 per cent of hotel searches on the site in June were for accommodations located within Canada. In fact, around 60 per cent of June bookings were for stays within the province, an increase of almost 20 per cent compared to last year1. These insights tell us that not only is domestic travel top of mind for Canadians, but intra-provincial travel is where the focus appears to be for those looking for a getaway, safely, over the summer months.
Last minute bookings are also on the rise, with around half of Canadian travellers booking trips 0-7 days out this summer, showing an increase from previous years.
When it comes to destinations, this summer the below spots topped the list in terms of the most searched, with many of these places being located in more rural areas outside of city centers. They include, the Okanagan Valley, Banff, Collingwood, Vancouver, Niagara Falls, Whistler, Georgian Bay, Jasper, Muskoka and The Laurentians2. When looking at this list year over year, we saw many popular destinations last year also hold similar characteristics with being in close proximity to the great outdoors; this year we see a similar theme, though more prevalent and perhaps for different reasons, with these more rural destinations offering more space to practice physical distancing.
Safety first: road trips seen as the safest way to get away this summer
According to a recent survey of 1,000 Canadians commissioned by Expedia3, around a quarter of Canadians expressed they will likely take a road trip this summer (though not all have made solid plans quite yet). Almost half said if no plans this summer, they will likely plan for the fall should travel remain an option. When asked what Canadians are looking for most out of a road trip this summer, around a quarter each respectively said to enjoy the outdoors and to get out of town and enjoy the scenery.
As travellers venture away from home and destinations open back up to tourism, health and safety takes priority over price when trip-planning. Almost 40 per cent of survey respondents said they’re opting for a road trip this summer because it feels safer than flying, and more people listed health and safety (38%) and avoiding crowds (24%) as top concerns over budget (21%). In response to these concerns, the industry is rolling out new sanitation measures to help minimize risks. Expedia displays these hygiene amenities on the site so travellers can feel comfortable leaving home; they’ll know whether a hotel property has enhanced cleaning processes or if an airline requires passengers to wear face masks.
Travellers can also message their hotel or vacation rental right from the Expedia mobile app and ask for more info on their policies, request special arrangements or check whether certain amenities like the pool or spa are going to be open.
Flexibility is key in travel planning
With so much uncertainty impacting vacation plans this summer, many travellers are opting for plans that can be easily adjusted, cancelled or rescheduled. Expedia data4 shows 97 per cent of hotel stays booked in June were refundable rates, up nearly 20 percent from the year prior.
To make it easier to search for flexible options, the Expedia website is updated so travellers can filter by hotels that offer free cancellation and airlines that are waiving any change fees for future bookings.
What to know before you go
Below are some considerations and advice for Canadians ahead of planning a road trip this summer:
- Have a plan. Thinking about where to stop for gas, how long to drive each day and what time of day to drive through a town are all aspects of a road trip to map out in advance. As part of your plan, ensure you read up on any provincial or city restrictions in place before you head to your destination.
- Know where to stay. If you’re among the 42 per cent of travellers staying in hotels this summer, make sure to research ahead of time or inquire about specific policies such as whether the property will have decreased occupancy or spaced stays in between guests. Other accommodation type(s) people will most likely opt for on a road trip this summer include camping/RV (28%), a vacation rental (18%) and a Bed and Breakfast (18%).
- Do vehicle maintenance. Car trouble, especially with kids or pets in the mix, is rarely a fun experience. When planning a road trip, have your car serviced or inspected before leaving. Alternately, consider renting a car with better gas mileage or more space.
- Pack the essentials. Most Canadians said they plan to hit the road with their family (35%) or their partner/spouse (29%) this summer. In addition to clothing and toiletries, road trippers should also pack snacks, a first-aid kit, cleaning/sanitary products, masks, valid documents (ID and insurance card) and a spare car key.