HSMAI Customer Insight: Travelers are Seeking to Explore the Outdoors this Summer | Google

With much of the United States having recently emerged from “Stay-At-Home” orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, people are looking for ways to enjoy summer while continuing to heed state and local guidelines around social distancing. As travelers look for ways to safely achieve a change of scenery in the summer months, they’re turning to Google to search for different destinations and activities. And while summer has always been a popular season to spend more time outside, we’ve seen shifts from prior years in outdoor-related search activity.

Increased search interest in camping and hiking nearby

Searches for “camping near me”[1] and “cabins for rent near me”[2] have grown globally by over 60% year over year and 100% year over year, respectively. Searches for “hike near me” have grown by over 100% since last year[3]. Moreover, queries related to hiking have also seen a surge in search interest recently:

  1. “hiking trails near me”
  2. “hikes near me”
  3. “hike near me”
  4. “hiking trail near me”
  5. “places to hike near me”

As the above searches show, even though people are looking for a change of scenery, they aren’t looking too far. Top searches for cabin rentals include “cabins for rent near me,” and “log cabins for rent near me.”2

It isn’t too surprising that people would gravitate towards activities like hiking and camping, as they give people more space to social distance and also provide much needed time outside after months indoors. The searches for activities “near me” also lends itself to what we already know–flight bookings are down, and adventure-seekers are searching for places within driving distance.

And while some campers and hikers are staying in cabins and tents, this summer’s preference for short, drivable distances is also accompanied by an increase in searches for “rv rental near” which have grown globally by over 200% year over year[4].

Travelers are searching for parks and beaches

National parks and beaches have also seen a resurgence in interest. Searches for “state parks near” have grown globally by over 80% year over year[5], while searches for “lakehouse rentals” have grown globally by over 200% year over year3.

Searches for “beach open” have grown globally by over 3,000% YoY. Top searches include: “is huntington beach open,” “is miami beach open,” and  “is virginia beach open.”4 Of course, part of this activity can most likely be attributed to the fact that prior to the pandemic, beaches were rarely closed, so people were eager to learn when they would be open again, especially during the summer.

It will be interesting to monitor how many of these shifts will continue in the coming months, especially as large parts of the country head into winter. Looking forward, as borders continue to open, we’re making it easier for travelers to make informed travel-related destinations during the pandemic. We recently announced a set of updates to our travel products that provide users with relevant information about a destination, including the number of hotels that are open and available, how many flights are operating, and local COVID resources and case trends.

As we enter the last weeks of summer with domestic travel remaining common for Americans, what do the above searches mean for travel professionals hoping to understand more about their customers? US travelers are eager for new and exciting experiences and are turning to local destinations and activities that respect social distancing protocols. They’re sticking closer to home and are seeking out beaches, parks, and fewer cities, meaning coverage beyond previous top destinations and major cities will be key to reaching travelers in the coming months. As the travel industry continues to fluctuate throughout the course of the pandemic, paying attention to changing traveler search behavior can help you understand what’s most important to them in this moment and respond accordingly.


[1] Google Data, Global English, Jun 08, 2020 – July 05, 2020 vs June 01, 2019 – June 30, 2019

[2] Google Data, Global English, Apr 15, 2020 – Jun 13, 2020 vs Apr 15, 2019 – Jun 13, 2019

[3] Google Data, Global English, Feb 26 – Apr 25, 2020 vs Feb 25 – Apr 25, 2019

[4] Google Data, Global English, May 6, 2020 – July 4, 2020 vs May 6, 2019 – July 4, 2019

[5] Google Data, Global English, May 20, 2020 – Jul 18, 2020 vs May 20, 2019 – Jul 18, 2019

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles