Which Sunny Destinations Do Americans Lust for Most When It's Cold?

Depends on where they live.

Image
Cory Gurman/Flickr

It seems like there's no way to escape this year's unusual and obnoxious cold - unless, that is, you actually manage to make an escape.

Inspired by the winter madness, Boston-based trip planning start-up Hopper dug into millions of flight search queries over the last year to figure out if cold temperatures have an impact travel search patterns.

Hooper examined which destinations were searched the most as temperatures dropped in five large metro areas: Boston, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis-St.Paul, and Atlanta. The answer? A whole lot of Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida.

While warm weather wanderlust is not, in itself, surprising, Hopper was able to pinpoint which destinations saw the sharpest increase in demand when temperatures dropped. For example, when the temperature drops one degree in Boston, the demand for flights to Palm Springs, California, rises 1.9 percent -- that becomes an almost 20 percent increase in demand when the temperature drops 10 degrees.

Here's a closer look. This map, for example, shows the ten destinations that see the biggest jump in demand when temperatures drop in Boston. Larger dots represent stronger correlations:

 

These charts break down the relationship between temperature changes and demand. The grey line indicates the daily average temperature throughout the year, and the black line shows the number of searches for a particular location per day:

Here are maps of the most in-demand locations when the temperatures drop in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Atlanta. See detailed breakdowns for all five cities here.

New York City 

Chicago

Minneapolis 

Atlanta 

According to Patrick Surry, Hopper's chief data scientist, the team examined the reverse situation too - does demand for certain destinations jump when temperatures increase? Turns out those correlations are generally much weaker. Surry thinks it’s partly because there’s not the same psychological effect of "I want to get away from here." And "summer vacation" means more diversity in destinations.

Hopper is also working on incorporating purchase data, so they can correlate flight searches with actual flights booked. Since this study only uses queries, one can’t help but wonder how many people were just browsing flights to the Caribbean out of wishful thinking. 

All images courtesy of Hopper, unless otherwise noted. 

Top image: Palm Springs in 2013. Cory Gurman/Flickr 

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