Four in 10 Americans Say They Plan to Just Wing It When It Comes to Travel This Summer

Survey respondents say planning doesn't always mean a perfect trip — and planners were slightly more likely to report having a vacation that was a "total disaster"

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Four in 10 Americans will be "totally winging it" when it comes to their vacations this summer.

That's according to a poll of 2,000 Americans who were asked if they consider themselves a planner, or a "pantser" — someone who flies by the seat of their pants to fill in the details along the way.

While more people identified as "planners," 72% said the pandemic has shifted their current travel habits, so flying by the seat of one's pants may be the summer vacation mode de rigueur.

Among the 64% who identified as planners, two in five (40%) said not being able to travel as often during the past year has "converted" them to a looser approach to travel.

With this style of travel increasing, and various guidelines in place to protect against COVID-19, Americans' summer trips may look very different this year — for both "planners" and "pantsers."

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TravelCenters of America, the survey delved into the ways in which these two types of vacationers are traveling in the coming months.

When it comes to their summer trips, "planners" were also likely to say they're already planning to take more trips in 2021 than in 2019 and 2020 combined (60% vs. 45%).

But planning doesn't always mean a perfect trip — and planners were slightly more likely to report having a vacation that was a "total disaster."

Even then, they're not letting it get them down: while respondents may not be able to create a plan for happiness, self-identified "planners" are more optimistic about the future.

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Nearly three-quarters (74%) of planners are optimists — compared to 65% of "pantsers" who are able to see the bright side.

Respondents agreed that driving is their preferred mode of travel (59%) — with "pantsers" slightly more likely to say so, perhaps because of the flexibility driving can offer.

Surprisingly, both groups said their preferred approach to road trips is to make a few stops along the way, but not so much that it significantly increases travel time.

For "pantsers," that was followed by preferring to stop whenever and wherever their curiosity is piqued, as they think the fun of a road trip is being able to take pit stops.

On the other hand, planners were more likely to say they prefer stopping only when it is absolutely essential to do so.

While driving, one in five said they're "very likely" to even have their rest area and travel center stops planned out in advance — with planners, unsurprisingly, most likely to do so (23% vs. 12%).

When respondents are choosing where to stop, restaurant options (42%), safety (41%) and cleanliness (33%) were found to be the top three factors in that decision.

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