NEW YORK – Christmas road trip travel was down more than 25 percent this year, but more people traveled for this holiday than for Thanksgiving, which was down 35 percent compared to last year.
Arrivalist’s Daily Travel Index shows that road trip volume over the Christmas holiday was 27.8 percent lower than during the same period in 2019.
The only exception to the downturn was on Christmas Eve, which saw the same level of road trip departures as the same day last year.
“There was a brief period – on Christmas Eve – where we saw road trips reach 2019 levels, but it was short-lived and may have had more to do with Christmas Eve falling on a Thursday this year rather than on a Tuesday last year,” said Cree Lawson, founder and chief executive officer of Arrivalist.
Day by Day Fluctuations in Arrivalist’s Daily Travel Index
Arrivalist’s findings take the day-of-week changes between 2019 and 2020 into consideration. The periods compared were Dec. 20, 2019 (Friday) to Dec. 29, 2019 (Sunday) versus Dec. 18, 2020 (Friday) to Dec. 27, 2020 (Sunday).
The data was compiled from road trips of 50 miles or more. Road trips of less than 50 miles and travel completed by plane are not included in the calculations.
Some States Nearly at 2019 Levels
Outside of Hawaii and Alaska, the contiguous states, which stood out for having close to the same volume of road trips originating there in 2020 as 2019 included:
- Florida (-10.3 percent)
- South Dakota (-16.3 percent)
- Louisiana (-17.7 percent)
- North Dakota (-19.2 percent)
- Oklahoma (-19.3 percent)
- Colorado (-19.5 percent)
- Montana (-19.5 percent)
Greatest Impact in the Northeast
Road trip activity varied greatly by state over the holiday. Nearly all states in the Northeast saw around half the road trip activity of the prior year. States with the greatest reduction in road trip activity included:
- Vermont (-52.9 percent)
- Connecticut (-44.8 percent)
- New Hampshire (-43.1 percent)
- Rhode Island (-42.7 percent)
- Delaware (-42.6 percent)
- Massachusetts (-41.9 percent)
- Pennsylvania (-41.9 percent)
The Daily Travel Index was designed as a free online resource available on Arrivalist’s Web site to provide the travel industry with insights to help plot its path to recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Site visitors can view trends in travel year-over-year by origin market and by mileage bands. Additionally, a customized Daily Travel Index is available to clients, which allows them to compare activity in their market to a nationwide index.
How the Data is Calculated
Arrivalist’s methodology is based on a representative balanced panel of GPS signals representing road trips taken specifically in cars (excluding travel by air).
A trip is measured as one where the user has traveled a minimum of 50 miles and spent a minimum of two hours at the destination. Commuter travel or other frequently repeated trips—i.e., cargo deliveries or other reoccurring activities—are excluded from the Daily Travel Index.
Arrivalist is the leading location intelligence platform in the travel industry. The company uses multiple location data sets to provide actionable insights on consumer behavior, competitive share, media effectiveness and market trends.
Over 200 travel marketers, including 100 cities, 40 U.S. states and four of the top 10 U.S. theme parks, use these insights to inform media strategy, operations and destination development.
Arrivalist is headquartered in New York City, with offices in San Francisco and Toronto.