If it wasn’t obvious already, the latest research confirms it: Americans need a vacation.

More than six in 10 Americans (63%) report that they “desperately” need a vacation after trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by the research firm Destination Analysts.

Destination Analysts has also found:

  • Close to six in 10 American travelers (59%) miss traveling “very much” and 55% are excited about leisure travel in the next six months. (Destination Analysts, Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Report, 1/18)
  • Close to three quarters (72%) of employed Americans indicated they set aside time to plan out vacation days for the coming year, and 84% of Americans are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months. (Destination Analysts, December 2020)
  • More than nine in 10 (93%) American workers say it is important to use their paid time off to travel. (Destination Analysts, December 2020)
  • Once a vaccine is available and accessible, 53% of American workers prefer to use their paid time off to take a vacation away from home. (Destination Analysts, December 2020)

Enter National Plan for Vacation Day, celebrated on the last Tuesday of each January with the goal of encouraging Americans to plan all of their days off for the year at the beginning of the year.

Historically, National Plan for Vacation Day has been intended to help address the problem of Americans failing to utilize all of their earned time off each year (an issue that persists, according to the latest data).

But as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on virtually every aspect of society—and notably on people’s ability to move about and congregate freely—National Plan for Vacation Day is taking on a special significance is 2021. Two key reasons:

Looking ahead to a travel experience provides a psychological boost. After the significant suffering and anxiety of the past year, putting a trip on the books can lift our outlook: previous polling found that 97% of Americans say having a trip planned makes them happier. And academic research has found that the positive effect of anticipating a journey rivals that of actually being on one.

It’s an ideal time for consumers to plan and book travel. With the chilling effect that the pandemic has had on travel, favorable offers from travel providers are abundant and change or cancellation policies are flexible throughout the industry—from flights, to hotels, to car rentals and theme parks. And as vaccines become more widely available and Americans’ pent-up demand for travel creates a booking surge, those offers are likely going to become harder to find.

“Vacation planners are going to be rewarded this year more than ever before,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Not only will planners reap the significant personal benefits of looking forward to their next travel experience, but they will find some of the friendliest booking conditions we have seen in a very long time.

“After the very real peril and hardship that too many have endured due to the pandemic, National Plan for Vacation Day is the perfect opportunity to look ahead to a future travel experience when the time is right for you to travel once again.”

Dow stressed that COVID-19 is still a very present challenge, and that all Americans must continue to put health and safety first. Making the decision to travel again is a very personal decision, he said, and when people choose to travel they must continue to embrace the health and safety practices that can keep themselves and their fellow travelers safe.

That’s why National Plan for Vacation Day aligns perfectly with Let’s Go There, the national initiative launched last year to spark a conversation about future getaways. Let’s Go There aims to tell travelers: When it’s time for you, we’ll be ready.

Social media content for National Plan for Vacation Day will be tagged using #PlanForVacation.


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for more information.



Cathy Reynolds

Manager, Media Relations and Lead Manager, IPW Press Operations

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Chris Kennedy

Senior Director, Strategic Communications

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