DALLAS—As 2020 winds down, 81% of Americans say they are especially grateful for their family this year, according to new research from Motel 6. The economy lodging brand released its third annual holiday travel survey revealing that, on average, Americans have not seen their extended family in five months.
The survey, which polled 2,000 U.S. adults who plan to visit family for the holidays, found that Americans are creating new holiday traditions, such as dropping surprise presents off on the doorsteps of loved ones (45%), video meals with extended family (43%) and having a day where all family members disconnect from their devices (40%).
“This year’s holiday season will look different in many ways, from virtual celebrations to travel restrictions to new socially distanced traditions,” said Rob Palleschi, CEO of Motel 6. “But what remains the same is our shared value of being connected with those we love over the holidays. Motel 6 will leave the light on for those doing that safely this year.”
A Change in Plans
Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents are planning to see extended family in person this holiday season; however, 59% said they have family members they are only planning to see virtually.
Despite a desire to see their family this year, it’s not likely to be smooth sailing from start to finish, as two-thirds (65%) of holiday travelers think travel will be more stressful than in years past—and 36% are “very concerned” about travel restrictions forcing them to change their plans.
This might be the reason people plan to travel differently this holiday season: results revealed three-quarters (76%) of Americans are more likely to drive than fly to visit family this year than they have been in previous years. Eighty-one percent of respondents said any stress they experience from holiday travel is worth it to see their family.
Space is a Good Thing
Even though respondents are looking forward to seeing their family, a bit of space can be nice. Three in five (61%) said they would enjoy the holidays more if they were not all staying under one roof. This could be due to a variety of factors, including reducing unnecessary stress and debating on how to best manage family visits during a health crisis.
A third of respondents (35%) said they are more likely to stay at a hotel or motel this holiday season, with half (50%) saying they would consider it to ensure personal privacy. That was followed by their family not having enough space (44%) and being easier to socially distance (43%) when they are not all under the same roof.
Three in five (62%) Americans would stay at a clean, budget-friendly hotel nearby if they had the option. When they are at a hotel, almost half (46%) of respondents would prefer a guestroom with a direct entrance from outside, while one-third (36%) prefer an entrance through a lobby.
“For those choosing not to stay with family this holiday, no matter the reason, we’re here for you,” said Palleschi. “One advantage at many of the Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties across the country is having exterior corridors that help limit face-to-face interactions with others. Stop in for a clean, comfortable and affordable stay nearby so that you can be refreshed and ready to safely celebrate with loved ones this season.”