Unwrapping festive travel: 5 insights into how Americans are traveling during the holiday season
November 21st, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Unwrapping festive travel: 5 insights into how Americans are traveling during the holiday season

When it comes to executing a marketing strategy, understanding why your competitors’ customers are choosing them over you can be just as valuable as knowing your own brand’s strengths.

Targeted audience analysis can help marketers understand the ins and outs of a highly specific group - from X/Twitter users to mobile gamers; from Heineken drinkers to Honda drivers - allowing you to position your brand or product in the right place to take advantage.

Using its targeting capabilities, YouGov Self-serve - our fully self-serviced research platform - allows marketers to quickly, easily and cheaply survey an audience and ask them whatever they want.

In just a few clicks, you can target an audience of your choice (including customers of one or more of 1,500 brands in Great Britain or 2,200 brands in US), and then create your custom poll using our easy survey builder. Within 24 hours, you could have the answers that make the difference between failure and success for your upcoming product launch, brand campaign or crisis management strategy.

We’re just days away from Thanksgiving—the official start of the holiday season—and many people are gearing up for travel to see friends and loved ones.

According to a new YouGov Self-serve survey, 42% of US adults will be traveling to attend one or more holiday celebrations this year. And while some will be commemorating holiday traditions, others intend to opt out of certain holidays in favor of a vacation.

Let’s delve into how people will be navigating holiday travel this year—from how they’ll get there to where they’ll stay while they travel to just how concerned they are about flight disruptions.

1. Vacations over traditions

16% of respondents will be skipping one or more holiday celebrations in favor of a vacation

A notable trend emerges among individuals seeking a break from traditional festivities. The survey reveals that that one in six (16%) people will forgo one or more of their usual holiday celebrations in favor of embarking on a vacation, highlighting an inclination towards alternative ways of spending the festive season.

2. Journeying for festive celebrations

Around a fifth (22%) will be gearing up for travel to attend one holiday celebration during the festive season and an additional 20% say they’ll be attending more than one celebration.

A slim majority (53%) will not be doing any traveling at all to celebrate the holidays.

3. Modes of holiday travel

24% of those with travel planned to celebrate the holidays will go by air

Most people who are traveling to attend a holiday celebration will get there using their own car (75%), marking it as the most popular mode of transportation for travel during the holiday season. The next most popular means of transportation is by airplane (24%), followed by train or bus (10%).

Roughly a tenth (9%) of this group plan to use a ride-share to get to a holiday celebration and 6% plan to rent a car.

4. Concern for flight disruptions

Among those opting for air travel to get around during the holiday season, 57% express concerns regarding potential fight delays and cancellations. This apprehension reflects the ongoing uncertainties associated with air travel during peak holiday periods.

Southwest Airlines was among several airlines hardest hit by weather and flight cancellations the last holiday season and suffered declines in overall brand health and consumer satisfaction.

5. Lodging choices amidst festive travels

Among those who have travel planned to celebrate the holidays, 8% will be staying at a vacation rental

Where people will stay as they travel to celebrate the holidays varies. Most (69%) will be staying with family and 16% have plans to stay with friends.

A fifth (18%) intend to book a hotel during their holiday stays and 8% will choose a vacation rental such as Airbnb or VRBO.


YouGov polled 700 US adults aged 18+ on November 20th, 2023. The survey was carried out through YouGov Surveys: Self-serve. Data is weighted by age, gender, race, political affiliation, education level and region. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Self-serve.