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For College Students, the Next Trip is Still TBD

Posted: 19th October 2020 11:33

Colleges across the U.S. have taken vastly different approaches to learning right now due to COVID-19. Some campuses re-opened to students in the fall, while others opted to offer online-only classes or a mix of in-person and online coursework. The result has had profound impacts on where students learn, how they stay connected to campus and classmates, and their travel and leisure activities, according to a new survey conducted by online budget travel agency CheapTickets®.

The survey asked 515 college-age students questions regarding online learning, travel and their on-campus connections, and found that COVID-19 has significantly impacted travel for Gen Z learners1. While more than half (53%) haven't traveled for leisure since COVID-19 closed campuses in March 2020, 47% of respondents reported to have taken a leisure trip or vacation since COVID-19 started – the most common types being short trips with friends or family vacations.

"College is a period of continuous growth and development for students, not just academically but in terms of how they navigate and broaden their understanding of the world around them. Travel is an important part of that experience," says Justine McDonald, Senior Manager CheapTickets brand. "Many students told us they don't have any leisure travel planned for the rest of the year, however 30% reported they plan to take use local activities as a getaway this fall."

Student Travel Plans
Our survey findings show that most students are taking the pandemic seriously when it comes to travel planning. Nearly 3 in 4 respondents (73%) reported they are traveling much less since the start of the pandemic, and the controlled spread of COVID-19 in an origin or destination was the most significant consideration for students in determining whether or not to travel.

When asked what type of leisure trip students had taken or would consider this fall, there was one clear winner.

"The family vacation is the new fall break this year," says McDonald. "Most students said they weren't planning any fall break trips this year (37%), but for those who were, it was to travel with their family."

Online Learning Impacts
Most respondents said they were taking classes online right now (62%), with the majority living at home with parents or family members (55%). Attitudes toward their online learning situation were surprisingly positive, especially when compared with their family members. Online learners were more likely to report feeling calm and happy about their at-home setup, while they believe their family members are more likely to report feeling sad overall. This gap increased in particular for remote learners in the Northeastern part of the U.S. More than 30% believe their family is less happy about their online learning setup right now.

Taking a Schoolcation
While many colleges offering in-person classes are limiting travel to prevent on-campus spread of COVID-19, the pandemic has reduced travel much more significantly for those who are taking online classes only. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of remote learners are traveling "a little" or "much" less since COVID-19, compared to the 46% of students taking in-person classes that report the same travel impact. This is despite nearly a quarter reporting that their primary motivation for any leisure travel right now would be to recharge and take a break from their school and work schedule.

"Students are experiencing the pandemic just like the rest of us, and stress from a compressed school schedule and the extra demands of learning right now are top of mind for them," says McDonald. "According to our research, the top two motivations for student trip planning are to recharge and take a break from school and work (23%), or to re-connect with friends or family (22%)."

While acknowledging that travel isn't an option for many students right now, CheapTickets is offering a way for students to jumpstart their future travel plans without leaving home. Students can enter the CheapTickets Schoolcation Contest where they could win $500 in future travel credit redeemable through the end of 20212. Students just have to answer two prompts via an online form: Where in the world would they most want to be remote learning right now, and what they miss most about being on campus.

"For many students travel for the time being is – just like classes and so much else – virtual-only," says McDonald. "But that doesn't mean students can't take a study break this fall to dream about what that next trip could be like."

For more information on the CheapTickets Student Travel Survey and for COVID-19 travel tips and advice, visit

About CheapTickets is an online travel provider where travelers come to get more value out of every trip they book. On, travelers search, plan and book all aspects of their trip, from flight and hotels to events and car rentals. helps travelers make the most of their travel budget, no matter how big or small, with steep discounts, expert advice and useful tips. Follow on InstagramFacebook and Twitter for more cheap travel deals and giveaways. Founded in 1986, is owned by Expedia Group, one of the world's leading travel companies.

© 2020, Trip Network, Inc., an Expedia Group Company. All rights reserved. CheapTickets,, and the CheapTickets logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Trip Network, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. CST # 2062836-50

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