By Marie Haaland // SWNS


From dropping surprise presents off on the doorsteps of loved ones, video meals with extended family and having a day where all family members disconnect from their devices, holiday traditions are looking a little different this year.

According to a survey of 2,000 Americans who plan to visit family for the holidays, respondents will also make their own decorations for their home this year (37%) and plan to bake a specific recipe together (36%).

That’s in addition to having video calls with their extended family (35%) — showing that even as this holiday season is unique in many ways, respondents are still finding ways to see their loved ones.

Which makes sense, as “seeing my family” came out on top (73%) when respondents were asked what they’re looking forward to most about the holiday season

Commissioned by Motel 6 and conducted by OnePoll, the survey delved into how people are getting together with their family this year, and it looked at the ways in which travel might be different, too.

It’s been five months since the average respondent saw their extended family, but almost two-thirds (63%) are planning to see them in person this holiday season.

However, 59% said they have family members they’re 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 respondents said travel will be more stressful than in years past — and 36% are “very concerned” about travel restrictions forcing them to change their plans.

Nonetheless, 81% said any stress they experience from holiday travel is worth it to see their family.

This may be leading to how people are traveling differently this holiday season: results revealed three-quarters (76%) of Americans surveyed said they’re more likely to drive than fly to visit family this year than they have been in previous years.

“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. For those doing that safely in person this year, we want to make sure they have a smooth trip and can focus on their family, not on concerns about travel.”

Even though respondents are looking forward to seeing their family, a bit of space can be a good thing: three in five (61%) said they’d enjoy the holidays more if they weren’t all staying under one roof.

This could be due to a variety of factors including reducing unnecessary stress and debate on how to best manage family visits during a pandemic. 

The top benefit of space was stopping personal questions (45%) — followed by being able to create new traditions with their partner or children (42%) and making sure they don’t feel like they’re imposing on their loved ones (39%).

A third of respondents (35%) said they’re more likely to stay at a hotel or motel this holiday season, with half (50%) saying they’d consider it for personal privacy.

That was followed by their family not having enough space (44%) and being easier to socially distance (43%) when you’re not all under one roof.

Three in five (62%) Americans surveyed would stay at a clean, budget-friendly hotel nearby if they had the option.

“For those choosing not to stay with family this holiday, no matter the reason, we’re here for you,” said Palleschi. “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.”



  1. Dropping surprise presents off on the doorsteps of loved ones    45%
  2. Zoom/video meals with extended family                                       43%
  3. Having a day where they all disconnect from their devices          40%
  4. Making our own decorations for our home                                    37%
  5. Baking a specific recipe together                                                  36%



  • Seeing their family                                      73%
  • Having time to relax                                    68%
  • Having time off of work                               59%
  • Listening to holiday music                          58%
  • Eating holiday foods                                   58%
  • Cooking/baking holiday foods                    58%
  • Traveling/having a chance to get away      57%
  • Driving to their destination                          54%
  • Catching up with their loved ones              47%

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