How COVID-19 Has Changed Labor Day Travel Hot Spots

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With the end of summer comes Labor Day weekend, which in years past has signaled one last trip to close out the season. As it turns out, this year doesn't look much different, despite a pandemic — except for the places Americans plan to travel. Given that many locations around the country have instituted a 14-day quarantine for new arrivals and some countries have banned Americans altogether, travelers are essentially opting for the locations that will have them. A study from from Tripit comparing Labor Day bookings this year vs. last year shows that traditionally popular destinations have been replaced. Here's what we're seeing.

Related: 15 Safety Tips for Taking a Road Trip Right Now

Cancun, Mexico

What's In: Cancun, Mexico

Cancun experienced the largest year-over-year increase in popularity in Tripit's survey, soaring to ninth place this year from 37th place in 2019, when there was no life-threatening pandemic to worry about. Popular resort cities in Mexico began welcoming guests again in June.

Related: 11 Offbeat Experiences in Cancún

Tampa, Florida

What's In: Tampa, Florida

Florida claims the lion's share of Labor Day flight reservations this year, with 12% of all booking plans including a destination in the Sunshine State. Last year it was just 4%. That's a 200% year-over-year increase, and Tampa is among one of the biggest beneficiaries. Its rank in 2019 was 50th, but this year it's at No. 23, a 27-slot climb.

Related: The 25 Best Cities to Visit With Your Dog

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sean Pavone/istockphoto
Orlando, Florida
Honolulu, Hawaii

What's In: Honolulu

The Hawaiian Islands had been planning to kick off a pre-travel testing program for visitors Aug. 1, but opted to wait until Sept. 1, when out-of-state visitors will need to show proof of a valid negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival to avoid 14 days of quarantine. With a little more time to travel freely to the islands, though, Americans are making the most of the opportunity. Honolulu increased in popularity as a Labor Day destination from 21st place to 11th between 2019 and 2020 — and TripIt says United Air has just announced that it is planning to increase flights to the islands.

Related: This U.S. Airline Has Cut 76% of Its Routes


What's In: Phoenix

This Southwestern city, also known as the Valley of the Sun, was 15th in 2019, but this year rose to the No. 6 slot in popularity. The city's excruciating summer heat does not appear to be a deterrent for Labor Day revelers.

Kahului, Hawaii

What's In: Kahului, Hawaii

Yet another popular Hawaiian destination this year, Kahului (on Maui) rose in rank from 20th in 2019 to 14th most popular choice in 2020.

Related: The Best of Hawaii on a Budget

Nashville, Tennessee
Lorraine Boogich/istockphoto
Salt Lake City, Utah
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

What's In: Seattle

Seattle jumped from ninth place in 2019 to the fifth most popular Labor Day destination amid COVID-19. There's no formal quarantine in place for those visiting the state.

Austin, Texas

What's In: Austin, Texas

Austin has inched up from a dead last ranking in 2019 to 22nd place this year. The state's governor recently ended all restrictions pertaining to air travelers arriving in the state.

Las Vegas
Vladislav Zolotov/istockphoto

What's In: London

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry may have ditched London, but it's still home to the queen. This culture- and history-filled city inched up one slot between 2019 and 2020, to No. 7 in popularity as a Labor Day destination from No. 8. This barely noticeable shift may be because traveling to London right now requires a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

Prefer to see the sights from afar? Be sure to check out A Virtual Weekend Vacation in London.


What's Out: Denver

Though not a dramatic decrease, Denver fell one position from 2019 to 2020, from its perch as the No. 1 slot for Labor Day weekend, to No. 2. The city is very much open for businesses, from its hotels and museums to restaurants, which allow dine-in service.

San Diego

What's Out: Chicago

Chicago dropped to No. 4 in popularity from No. 2 last year. This may be because Illinois is among the top 10 hot spots for coronavirus in the country; also, in July, Chicago's Department of Public Health announced that travelers arriving from places where there has been a surge of COVID-19 cases must quarantine for 14 days.

Los Angeles
Michael Warren/istockphoto

What's Out: Atlanta

Atlanta, a city that keeps making headlines for battles between state and city government over COVID-19 restrictions and requirements, dropped to 18th place in popularity from 16th between 2019 and 2020. There are no statewide restrictions for visiting Georgia.

San Jose, California

What's Out: San Jose, California

You'd never know by looking at San Jose's tourism website that there is even a pandemic to worry about. Nevertheless, at least some travelers have decided to skip the destination this year: It dropped in popularity to 25th on the Tripit list, or last, from 23rd place.

Sean Pavone/istockphoto

What's Out: Dallas

That there are no statewide restrictions for visiting Texas doesn't seem to have helped Dallas. The city dropped to 17th place in the popularity contest among Labor Day travelers, from 12th last year.

San Francisco

What's Out: San Francisco

San Francisco was among the top 10 places to visit last year, at No. 7. But this year it comes in at 13th — another possible victim of California's notoriety as one of the nation's ongoing coronavirus hot spots.

Related: 1 in 4 Avid Cruise Goers: 'I'll Never Go on a Cruise Again'

Portland, Oregon

What's Out: Portland, Oregon

Portland, coming in last year in 13th place, is now suddenly near the bottom of the heap at 21st place. There are no statewide restrictions for visiting Oregon, and it's not a hot spot for the COVID-19 outbreak — so perhaps it's just an unpopular year for the city.

Related: 14 Industries That Have Been Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

Boston, Massachusetts

What's Out: Boston

Ah, the fine city of Boston. Last year it was among the top five most popular Labor Day destinations in the country, coming it at No. 4. But that's practically another lifetime in pandemic time, and this year Boston finds itself at No. 15. The current rules for visiting the state are not exactly welcoming: Those over the age of 18 entering the state must fill out a travel form and either quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the past 72 hours. Those awaiting test results must quarantine until cleared.

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