How early you’re supposed to get to the airport before a flight is something people have argued about for years. On the one hand, nobody wants to miss their flight, but on the other, it’s almost equally unappealing to sit around at your gate for an hour or 2 unnecessarily. So what’s the solution? Well, that will vary depending on who you ask.
The same traits that affect how early you arrive at the airport will also probably affect whether or not you purchase travel insurance or the number of outfits you pack. Basically, different people allow for different levels of risk when it comes to travel, and we wanted to find out how these tendencies vary across the country.
Which States Take the Most and Least Risk When Traveling?
According to our survey data, if you’re from Idaho, you’re more likely to be on the side of the spectrum that buys travel insurance, arrives extra early for a flight, and packs more outfits than there are days in the trip itself. This is because Idahoans, on average, make the most risk-averse travel decisions, followed by people from Kansas and Ohio.
On the contrary, people from Florida have the riskiest travel habits, followed by Georgia, Kentucky, and New Mexico.
Travel Priorities Amongst Americans
If something has to go wrong on a trip, Americans definitely prefer certain unpleasantries to others. For example, 76% of our survey respondents said they’d rather miss their flight than lose their luggage.
The next “would you rather” was a lot closer, though: only 52% of our respondents said they’d rather be stuck on a flight with a screaming child than have a tight layover that could cause them to miss a connecting flight. And if the average American would prefer a screaming child over even the chance of missing a flight, losing luggage must truly be one of the biggest travel inconveniences one can experience!
Flights aren’t the only important part of traveling, however. In our final question, 81% of our respondents said they’d rather book a flight through the budget option Spirit Airlines than book a 1-star hotel room.
American Travel Habits
According to our survey, 15% of Americans don’t set aside an emergency fund when they travel, although perhaps the takeaway here should be that 85% of Americans do set aside an emergency fund when they travel. Combine this with the fact that 40% of Americans purchase travel insurance whenever they take a trip and it seems that the majority of people prepare for things to go wrong in one way or another!
Many Americans possess other risk-averse travel habits, too. For example, our survey proved that the old rule of thumb, to arrive at the airport 2 hours before any flight, is still followed by the majority of travelers. Also, over half of Americans (63% to be exact) arrange a ride from the airport before they’ve even hopped on the plane, leaving no chance for a long taxi or rideshare app wait time. And out of the different generations, millennials might just be the most risk-averse when it comes to travel, as 94% of them say they often or always conduct research about wherever it is they’re going during the trip-planning phase. That’s a higher percentage than any other generation!
But not everyone prepares for a trip like a camel at an oasis: just under 30% of Americans regularly opt for non-refundable tickets when they travel, and a little over a quarter of men rarely or never take the weather into account when they’re planning a trip. And remember how 40% of Americans routinely purchase travel insurance? If we just look at Gen Zers, that percentage drops to 26%.
How risky someone’s travel tendencies are can even be seen through something as small as how they pack for trips. This might not come as a surprise, but there is a strong gendered difference here. According to our survey, 80% of women say they overpack for their trips, while a bit less than half of men pack “just enough to get by.” So basically, a lot of men that are on a business trip or vacation are just 1 wine stain away from disaster.
Hot Tip: Check out our complete travel packing checklist, along with our best tips for packing!
Our survey ran for 2 weeks in January 2022 and recorded 3,057 responses from Americans across the country. However, due to a lack of responses from people in several states, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming were not included in our state-by-state results.
While there are lots of risk-averse Americans out there that take travel preparation seriously, the majority of them just might be women. Between the lack of packing extra things or planning around the weather, men seem to be more carefree when it comes to travel. However, people of every gender tend to lean more towards risk-aversion, as it’s commonplace in the U.S. to arrive at the airport way before a flight and have money set aside for travel emergencies.
We learned that the average American wouldn’t want to be stuck on a flight with a crying baby, but they’d hate to miss the flight completely even more. However, a lost bag is more feared than even a missed flight.
Regionally, residents of Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Mississippi are the most risk-averse travelers, while residents of Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Louisiana are the riskiest.
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