New Data Reveals Americans Haven’t Seen Extended Family in Five Months

Motel 6 survey finds Americans creating new holiday traditions this year, especially grateful for family.

DALLAS, Nov. 17, 2020 – As 2020 winds down, 81% of Americans say they are especially grateful for their family this year, according to new research from Motel 6. Today, the economy lodging brand released its third annual holiday travel survey, revealing that on average, Americans have not seen their extended family in five months.

The survey, which polled 2,000 U.S. adults who plan to visit family for the holidays, found that Americans are creating new holiday traditions, such as dropping surprise presents off on the doorsteps of loved ones (45%), video meals with extended family (43%) and having a day where all family members disconnect from their devices (40%).

“This year’s holiday season will look different in many ways, from virtual celebrations to travel restrictions to new socially distanced traditions,” said Rob Palleschi, chief executive officer at Motel 6. “But what remains the same is our shared value of being connected with those we love over the holidays. Motel 6 will leave the light on for those doing that safely this year.”

A change in plans

Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents are planning to see extended family in person this holiday season, however, 59% said they have family members they are only planning to see virtually.

Despite a desire to see their family this year, it’s not likely to be smooth sailing from start to finish, as two-thirds (65%) of holiday travelers think travel will be more stressful than in years past — and 36% are “very concerned” about travel restrictions forcing them to change their plans.

This might be the reason people plan to travel differently this holiday season: results revealed three-quarters (76%) of Americans are more likely to drive than fly to visit family this year than they have been in previous years. Eighty-one percent of respondents said any stress they experience from holiday travel is worth it to see their family.

Space is a good thing

Even though respondents are looking forward to seeing their family, a bit of space can be nice: three in five (61%) said they would enjoy the holidays more if they were not all staying under one roof. This could be due to a variety of factors, including reducing unnecessary stress and debating on how to best manage family visits during a health crisis.

A third of respondents (35%) said they are more likely to stay at a hotel or motel this holiday season, with half (50%) saying they would consider it to ensure personal privacy. That was followed by their family not having enough space (44%) and being easier to socially distance (43%) when they are not all under the same roof.

Three in five (62%) Americans would stay at a clean, budget-friendly hotel nearby if they had the option. When they are at a hotel, almost half (46%) of respondents would prefer a guest room with a direct entrance from outside, while one-third (36%) prefer an entrance through a lobby.

“For those choosing not to stay with family this holiday, no matter the reason, we’re here for you,” said Palleschi. “One advantage at many of the Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties across the country is having exterior corridors that help limit face-to-face interactions with others. Stop in for a clean, comfortable and affordable stay nearby so that you can be refreshed and ready to safely celebrate with loved ones this season.”

Motel 6 remains committed to following the guidelines of the CDC and to doing its part in maintaining safe and clean hotels for its valued guests. Learn more about the brand’s Clean@6 program here.


About the Motel 6 Holiday Travel Survey
The holiday travel survey was commissioned by Motel 6 through SWNS Media Group, who conducted an online survey among n = 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18+ (nationally representative sample) who plan to visit family for the holidays. The survey was conducted Oct. 23-28, 2020 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage at a 95 percent confidence level.

About Motel 6
Motel 6 helps travelers save more for what they travel for with nearly 1,400 company owned and franchised locations throughout the United States and Canada. Motel 6 has used the tagline, “We’ll leave the light on for you®” for more than 30 years, earning the chain the highest brand recognition in the economy lodging segment. Motel 6 offers standard amenities including free Wi-Fi Internet access, free local calls, no long-distance access charges and expanded cable channel line-up. Most locations offer guest laundry facilities. For more information, visit