Travel trends have changed during the pandemic, study finds

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Is travel insurance worth the price? One consumer says it’s worth it just to cover your bases

If travel insurance purchases are an indicator of how secure people are feeling about travel during the pandemic, then things are looking good for the travel industry.

According to a study conducted by travel insurance aggregator Squaremouth, travel insurance sales have surpassed pre-pandemic numbers for the first time since the onset of COVID-19. As travel rebounds, the researchers say four new trends have emerged that suggest things are still far from “normal.” 

Travel trends are changing

International travel is approaching pre-pandemic levels. The Squaremouth study found that border closures in 2020 forced travelers to stay closer to home, with over 40% of travelers staying stateside. However, things are starting to loosen up for international travel. Squaremouth’s study showed that by the end of summer 2021, international travel sales had rebounded to roughly 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

Last-minute trips are becoming more and more popular. With international borders reopening, Squaremouth says consumers are changing how they plan their travel arrangements. Instead of planning well ahead of time, the company says travelers are booking last-minute trips abroad. In summer 2021, Squaremouth reported that travelers going abroad purchased insurance just 25 days before their trip.

Baby boomers are still holding back on travel. Prior to the pandemic, travelers in the Baby Boomer and Silent Generation (the one preceding Baby Boomers) comprised nearly half of all Squaremouth customers. Now, the average age of travel insurance consumers is well below historical averages. In summer 2021, only 25% of travelers came from the Baby Boomer and Silent generations combined, while millennial and Gen X travelers grew into the largest travel demographic, each eclipsing 25% of travelers.

The Caribbean is a popular destination. Over the summer, Caribbean destinations proved that they’re still the #1 magnet for U.S. travelers. Prior to the pandemic, Canada, Italy, France, and the U.K. were the most popular destinations among U.S. tourists. Squaremouth says Mexico, Turks and Caicos, and Costa Rica are now the most popular destinations.

How important is travel insurance?

With travel opening back up, ConsumerAffairs reviewers seem happy with the upside of buying travel insurance. For example, Aprell from Georgia recently purchased extra protection for her trip to the Caribbean because she said it made her feel more secure.

“Well, we were traveling outside of the country, and the COVID climate and whatnot, in case anything happens to us, I thought that would be important,” she wrote in her review of Generali Global Assistance. “We were traveling to Panama and so just wanted to make sure if anybody got sick on the trip, needed to be flown back to the US, we had coverage for that."

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