Delta Variant Puts Labor Day Travelers Behind the Wheel

Cars.com survey finds Americans are ditching flights for the road
gas station traffic
Photograph: Shutterstock

CHICAGO — Even with the delta variant increasing COVID-19 cases across the country, Americans remain determined to get out this upcoming Labor Day 2021 weekend, according to a national survey from Cars.com, a digital automotive marketplace.

The survey also found that 60% of Americans plan to travel, up 17% compared to last year at this time. Of those who planned to take to the skies, more than 20% canceled their flights and are driving instead due to rising concerns over COVID-19.

The majority of travelers (62%) state they are concerned about the delta variant while traveling, with nearly one in four (24%) stating they have changed their destination due to an uptick of COVID-19 cases in a particular area. For those who changed their travel destination, most were planning to travel to Florida.

“This year has undoubtedly been the summer of the road trip, and it’s clear the trend is here to stay as 87% of Labor Day travelers plan to hit the road this upcoming holiday weekend,” said Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief for Cars.com. “Recent concerns about the delta variant has travelers changing both where and how they travel. Paired with airline cancellations, more people are opting for their personal vehicles as the safest and most reliable mode of transportation.”

Additional insights from the survey include:

  • Going, going gone. The majority of those surveyed plan to travel farther than they did for Labor Day last year (63%), with nearly the same amount (62%) planning trips more than 50 miles away from home.
  • Travelers linger longer. Fifty-nine percent of travelers plan to be away for the entire weekend or longer, up 10% compared to Fourth of July weekend.
  • Vaccine cards in-hand. More than 54% of those planning to travel are fully vaccinated, with 7% still in the process and 9% planning to get their shots before they leave; approximately 19% plan to travel unvaccinated.
  • No place like home. For those not traveling, 56% say COVID-19 has impacted their decision, a 30% increase compared to Fourth of July weekend.

“Despite the majority of vacationers reporting full or partial vaccination status, we still recommend that anyone traveling for Labor Day weekend follow the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] and make sure they are monitoring case counts in the locations they plan to visit,” said Bragman.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a CSP member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Related Content


More from our partners