Travelers Feel Safe on Road Trips Despite COVID-19

Conoco Gas Station

Seventy-two percent of respondents have cancelled a vacation since the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, a survey commissioned by Phillips 66 /Conoco found. The brand surveyed 2,000 Americans to gauge their travel concerns and plans in a year unlike any other.

Despite these setbacks, travelers are still turning to the road – 58% said they had changed travel plans from flying to driving since March and 60% of those surveyed said they felt comfortable taking a road trip this fall.

“The road trip has long been an important part of American culture and it’s reassuring to see that some things don’t change even in times of uncertainty,” said Sarah Bolding, senior brand director at Phillips 66. “At Phillips 66, we’re committed to helping our consumers find their sense of adventure in the safest way possible.”

Safety is now a top concern when roadtripping with 49% of respondents saying they’re concerned about putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus and 44% worried about being around too many people. With these concerns, the amount of road trip planning people are doing has also increased. Prior to the pandemic, 38% of people said they planned a road trip just a few days to a week in advance. Sixty-six percent now say that they anticipate needing more time to plan. Additionally, 77% of Americans are planning to limit their stops to only the essentials—for gas, the bathroom and food—and will avoid going into shops or lingering in crowds.

Americans’ main reason for roadtripping continues to be spending time with friends and family (48% pre-pandemic and 42% mid-pandemic). Weekend trips are still the most common, with the average length of a road trip 2-3 days before the pandemic, which has remained consistent. A new kind of road trip has also come about as a result of the number of people who can now work wherever there is a strong wi-fi connection. For those with the ability to work from home, the new idea of “working from anywhere” is appealing – 81% who had the option would consider a road trip to work from a new location.

Where are today’s road trippers headed? In general, most Americans are planning a trip 3-5 hours from home (41% of respondents).

Midwesterners surveyed are still planning trips to popular vacation destinations, with many planning to road trip to Missouri, Colorado, Florida and Texas. Those in the Midwest are also more likely to travel through multiple states compared to the national average (34% vs. 24%). Midwesterners feel most comfortable traveling to national and state parks (58%), followed by small/mid-sized towns (52%). They were also more likely than the average American to be comfortable driving to a rural area (46% vs. 40%).

In the Rocky Mountain region, destinations known for their outdoor activities were top of the list, with many respondents planning trips to Colorado, Montana, California, Wyoming and Utah. The average Rocky Mountain resident was more likely to be planning a trip 8+ hours away from home, with 38% vs. 28% of the national average. In the Rocky Mountains, people were most comfortable driving to national and state parks (57%), followed by lakes and beaches (47%) and small/mid-sized towns (47%). They were least likely to be comfortable traveling to cities, with only 38% of respondents in the region comfortable with the idea.

Travelers can stay safe at the pump with mobile pay in the My Phillips 66 My Conoco app mobile app to limit contact with surfaces outside and in store.

About the Road Trip Survey

The Phillips 66 Road Trip Survey was conducted on behalf of Phillips 66 and Conoco by Toluna Group to explore consumer attitudes and behaviors toward road tripping shortly before and after COVID-19. Fieldwork was conducted from March 7-18 and July 7-29, 2020 among a national sample of 2,000 adults aged 16-39, living in either the Rocky Mountain, West Coast or Midwestern/Heartland regions, have a valid driver’s license, have bought gas in the last 30 days, and have taken a road trip in the last 6 months.

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