Everyone has a touch of cabin fever after the worldwide coronavirus lockdowns. So it’s no surprise that people want to travel soon. But how soon may come as a surprise.

Jill Kaiserman, a retired teacher from Wayne, Pa., is eager to trade one cabin for another. She’s already made plans to drive to her second home in Maine this summer.

“It’s the perfect kind of place for social distancing,” she says.

Whether it’s a cabin in the woods or a cruise ship cabin, Americans are dreaming of their next trip. And not just dreaming, but booking.

“Travel advisers anticipate an influx of calls in the next six to eight weeks for those looking to plan future trips,” says Misty Belles, a spokeswoman for the Virtuoso travel agency.

Why? Maybe there is pent-up demand for travel. People missed their spring-break vacations. Then they stayed home. Now they want to get out of town.

A recent survey by Destination Analysts suggests American travelers feel the worst of the coronavirus may soon be over. Their first order of business when the lockdowns lift? One in five say they’ll book a trip.

“Traveler optimism is increasing,” says Gavin Harris, commercial director at Skyscanner. His site’s research suggests that 85% of Americans believe it will be safe to fly domestically by this fall and 74% think an international flight will be OK.

That optimism may be tempered as public health officials are projecting a growing number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus as states lift restrictions.

“This will be the summer of driving to visit grandma and long road trips with the family and possibly the national parks,” predicts Bob Barton, a former car rental executive. “It’s a controlled environment and a chance to spend time as a family and see the country — not just the airports.”

Chris Backe of Asheville, N.C., who writes a blog about off-the-beaten-path travel, says the conditions are perfect for a summer road trip. “The roads are clear, gas is probably at a great price, and when places reopen, they’ll be ready for you. Also, it’s easy to maintain social distancing,” he says.

Another group of people who want to travel soon: luxury travelers.

Mita Carriman, the CEO of the travel site Adventurely, says she’s seeing bookings from high-end travelers who can pay for high degrees of luxury isolation. “Think semi-private island,” she says.

In other words, there were people in lockdown who were buying vacations even as the government advised against nonessential travel. It’s the ultimate contrarian move.

These travelers all have one thing in common. Neither a pandemic, a government-order lockdown nor a sputtering economy can keep them at home. They want to travel soon.


Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.