Seventy-six percent of Americans said it was harder to stay positive in 2020 than in previous years, according to new research by Exodus Travel. That’s not to say it was impossible, though - and the survey of 2,000 internationally-traveling respondents revealed 79% found embracing new hobbies to be key to coping with the pandemic.
The survey delved into the other factors contributing to this cautious approach to optimism - with “a hope that the pandemic will end in 2021” topping the list (52%)."
That was closely followed by the end of 2020 (51%), with the idea of traveling more in 2021 (45%) rounding out the top three.
Also high on the list of why respondents are feeling more hopeful were practicing a positive mindset (28%) and choosing to believe the future is full of possibilities (19%).
And while 75% said they followed the news more closely during 2020 than ever before, 76% said limiting screen time overall is contributing to this feeling.
Commissioned by Exodus Travels and conducted by OnePoll, the survey delved into respondents’ mindsets, and how they’re staying positive during this challenging time.
But for those who are, the secret might be simple: 82% said they made a conscious effort in 2020 to do things that make them happy, to combat the events of the year.
Sixty-four percent have hobbies, and they were about twice as likely to identify as “very happy” than those without hobbies (40% vs. 18%).
Of those with hobbies, 77% said they’ve started new ones during the COVID-19 pandemic - about four, on average.
These hobbies aren’t just a way to pass time, either, as results found 70% admitted to picking up hobbies that will benefit their future travel plans.
“I think we can all agree 2020 was a real education,” said Robin Brooks, Exodus Travels’ Marketing & PR Director. “We learned some valuable lessons on human connections, the importance of science - and appreciating the little things in life. While it’s true that things are still uncertain as we head into 2021, we've also learned a lot over the past year, and we've got that on our side.
“It's been heartening to see so many people taking their passion for global exploration and turning it inward - adopting new hobbies, subscribing to new modes of self-discovery - a third (34%) of those surveyed even started learning a new language. They're taking this time to learn new skills and interests that can inform their future travel experiences, and there's just something incredibly hopeful about that.”
Results found hobbies might contribute to happiness, but it appears travel does, too: the survey found 78% of respondents are happiest when they can travel.
And when they can’t travel, some respondents look at adventures anyway. In an effort to make themselves happier, respondents have read about vacations (49%), watched travel shows (45%) and even looked at hotel options for a destination (44%).
Still, none of this truly compares to the real thing. Seven in 10 said a year without travel took a negative toll on their happiness, but 57% are feeling hopeful about 2021.
In fact, a third of respondents (36%) stated that if they could take their perfect trip tomorrow, they would be willing to give up coffee shops, or Netflix (34%) - while almost a fifth (18%) would even give up sex.
In 2021, respondents are prioritizing travel to Europe (37%), Central America (36%) and Asia (34%) - while 14% said they want to go “anywhere and everywhere.”
And they’re most likely to want to travel with their significant other (56%), followed by their child (51%) and their friends (38%).
And there are advantages to planning and booking a future holiday or adventure. According to a past OnePoll survey, those who rated their current happiness at a nine or 10 (in a 10-point scale) were the most likely to be currently planning a trip - showing people are happiest when they have an upcoming adventure to look forward to.
But while 67% said they will travel as soon as they can, respondents are also being cautious.
The survey revealed 77% are paying more attention to what companies they’re traveling with (hotels, tour groups, airlines, etc.) to ensure they’re taking proper precautions for COVID-19.
“We all desire to travel in 2021,” said Brooks. “But the health of our global community must come first. When it's safe to adventure abroad again, it's imperative everyone follow the proper precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19, which includes booking travel through companies and organizations that support small local businesses and have the resources to keep their travelers and all people safe.
“For now, the best thing to do is keep dialed into the latest safety measures, remember this is temporary, we are all in this together - and keep looking forward to and planning your next adventure - so that when travel comes back, we'll all be ready.”
Top three reasons respondents are feeling optimistic
1. A hope that the pandemic will end in 2021: 52%
2. The end of 2020: 51%
3. The idea of traveling more in 2021: 45%