A simpler summer: 74% of Canadians say the pandemic has changed their summer vacation plans

Ipsos survey finds only 24% of Canadians comfortable flying this summer, with 70% comfortable travelling by car

Toronto, ON. June 29, 2020 – With the first official long weekend of summer around the corner, Canadians are looking forward to getting behind the wheel, hitting the open road and exploring our country’s many hidden treasures. And, while road trips have long been a Canadian summer staple, a recent national survey has discovered that this year’s family vacation may look a little different, with almost three-quarters (74%) of Canadians having changed their summer travel plans due to the pandemic. With a desire to explore locally and reconnect with family, friends and nature, the day trip has emerged as this summer’s new preferred getaway, according to a national survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Toyota Canada.

Day trips are the new road trip

With only a quarter (24%) of Canadians saying they’d feel comfortable taking a plane at the moment, it’s clear the car will be the go-to mode of transportation for the summer of 2020. The majority (70%) of Canadians, however, feel comfortable travelling by car outside of their city or town, and almost half (49%) are planning at least one day trip over the next two months. This year, though, Canadians are looking for closer-to-home destinations to explore, with less than half (42%) comfortable venturing out of their province and only 21% who would visit the U.S in the near future. Of those planning to hit the road this summer, most are opting to stay within a 100km radius of home, making day trips the new preferred excursion.

Staying safe

Just because Canadians will be taking to the road this summer does not mean they are throwing caution to the wind when it comes to COVID-19. An overwhelming majority (94%) of those planning a road trip say they will be taking extra precautions to protect both themselves and those around them. Of those going on a road trip, two-thirds (65%) say they will limit contact with people outside their immediate circle and limit their exposure to crowds (64%). Other precautions Canadians plan to take on their road trips include wearing a mask while out in public (54%) and taking extra time to clean and disinfect surfaces inside the car (43%).

“While this may not be the summer we had all envisioned, we’re excited to see Canadians getting back behind the wheel, slowing life down and exploring more of the incredible beauty Canada has to offer,” says Stephen Beatty, Vice President, Corporate at Toyota Canada, speaking from his cottage-turned-office somewhere near Algonquin Park. “Whether it’s a quick day trip or a longer journey, there is no shortage of amazing, off-the-beaten-path treasures that offer great fun without the crowds. As we continue to adjust to the new normal, the road trip is a great option for Canadians who want to get away safely, experience a change of scenery and start making new memories with loved ones again.”

Return to a simpler summer

It should come as no surprise after the past three months that Canadians are craving connection, making visiting family and friends this summer (53%) the primary purpose of their road trips. Additional road trip destinations include exploring another city or town (51%), visiting a beach (41%), discovering a national/provincial park (42%), or settling in at a campground (38%) or cabin (23%). Regardless of the destination, Canadians are planning a simpler summer, filled with memory-making adventures as they explore all that Canada has to offer.

“What a difference a year can make,” said Beatty, referring to the national IPSOS survey commissioned by Toyota Canada in 2019 that predicted the “demise of the Canadian road trip” due to soaring gas prices. “No one could have anticipated we would be where we are today, but there is something beautiful about this back-to-basics approach to summer vacation. The idea of hitting the road is nostalgic for many, evoking memories of simpler times spent with the family, playing silly car games, and enjoying the journey as much as the destination.”

Hitting the road from coast-to-coast-to-coast

While Canadians across the country will be taking to their cars, trucks and SUVs this summer, there are some interesting provincial differences:

  • Atlantic Canadians have the highest number of trips planned this summer, with 50% of respondents planning to hit the road.

  • Despite the pandemic, 74% of Quebecers feel comfortable travelling outside their city or town and 45% feel comfortable travelling outside the province.

  • Ontarians crave their cars the most, with 54% stating that staying at home during the pandemic has made them miss driving.

  • Residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the most relaxed about venturing farther from home, with almost half (48%) saying they’d feel very comfortable travelling out of province.

  • Good gas mileage is particularly important to Albertans, with more than three-quarters (76%) stating that this is the most important vehicle feature for their summer road trip.

  • B.C. residents are taking the most precautions while on the road, with 78% limiting contact with people outside of their inner circle.

Getting the most out of their miles

Of the three-quarters (72%) of respondents surveyed who own a car, half (50%) have stated that staying at home during the pandemic has made them miss driving. But even with today’s lower gas prices, 60% of Canadians list fuel efficiency as a key car consideration when selecting their preferred road trip vehicle. Canadian road-trippers and day-trippers are also looking for vehicle safety features (31%), lots of cargo space (29%), room for multiple passengers (27%), and cruise control (23%). And Toyota is responding to their needs.

“While we’re always focused on providing safety, fuel economy and other features for our customers, we also look for new ways to take our popular family vehicles to the next level,” said Beatty. “This summer, we’ve upped our road trip game with the best Toyota Highlander ever – redesigned from the ground up with all-new TNGA-enabled style and performance, and a choice of gas or hybrid powertrain. We’ve come a long way since the days of the wood paneled station wagon, and we can’t wait for Canadians to see everything new we have to offer.”

For more information about the Toyota Highlander, visit: https://www.toyota.ca/toyota/en/vehicles/highlander/overview

For a list of alternative, avoid-the-crowd day trip destinations, go to media.toyota.ca

For media inquiries including interview opportunities and high-resolution images, contact:

Andrea Mancini, CASACOM




About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between June 16-19, 2020, on behalf of Toyota Canada. For this survey, a sample of 2,001 Canadians aged 18 years and over was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. 

About Toyota Canada Inc.

Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Toyota has sold over five million vehicles in Canada through a national network of 287 Toyota and Lexus dealerships. Toyota is dedicated to bringing safety, quality, dependability and reliability to the vehicles Canadians drive and the service they receive. TCI’s head office is located in Toronto, with regional offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Halifax, and parts distribution centres in Toronto and Vancouver. Toyota operates two manufacturing facilities in Canada. Having produced more than nine million vehicles, popular Canadian models built at these facilities include Toyota RAV4, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid. Recent investments at its facilities in Ontario will allow for increased production of the top-selling Toyota RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid models.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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