Travel may have come to a halt in 2020, but interest in when people can safely venture out again did not.
Google released its annual Year in Search package on December 9. The data shows the top trending searches for the year — in Google’s words: “Lists are based on search terms that had the highest spike this year as compared to the previous year.” The company broke out a number of search topics, including a topic for the trending travel questions we typed into the void as we stayed inside. If our personal search history is the closest thing we have to a secret diary, then our diaries were filled with plenty of anxiety when it came to travel in 2020.
Last year, in a story about the 2019 Year in Search package, I wrote optimistically about which locations topped the trending search charts for people searching “trip to.” The Maldives, Japan, Bora Bora, Las Vegas, and Mexico made the top five that year, followed by Alaska, New Orleans, California, New York, and Costa Rica. I ended the story with a question.
“The trending places constantly change as does the way we get around, though one thing stays the same,” I wrote. “It’s always a good time to travel responsibly. So where will you go in 2020?”
While traveling responsibly has never been more important, the majority of the time it was most responsible to not travel at all in 2020. And while there’s reason to be optimistic for the future, there’s still a long way to go. Soon it will be another year. For the one we’re still waiting to pass, however, these are the most popular trending searches related to travel and the ways we found escapism in our own homes.
Top trending travel searches in 2020
The top trending travel question on Google in 2020 was “where can Americans travel right now.” Similar questions made the top 10: “when will international travel resume” at number two, “what countries can Americans travel to” at number five, “when can we travel again” at number seven, and “when will travel restrictions be lifted” at number 10.
A few locations stood out when it came to what destinations people were searching for. The first was Florida with “is it safe to travel to Florida” at number six. Another was Mexico — “is Mexico open for travel” landed at number eight — and the same question for Hawaii at number nine.
Top 10 trending travel questions in 2020
- When will travel restrictions be lifted?
- Is Hawaii open for travel?
- Is Mexico open for travel?
- When can we travel again?
- Is it safe to travel to Florida?
- What countries can Americans travel to?
- Is it safe to travel?
- When did Trump ban travel from China?
- When will international travel resume?
- Where can Americans travel right now?
No matter how many of us were dreaming of travel, we were inevitably stuck close to home. The top trending things we searched for along with the words “near me” were largely guided by the news. “Covid testing” was the first, and questions about voting came up three times (“early voting” at two, “voting” at four, and “ballot drop box” at eight) in a year when more Americans voted than ever before. The number five trending search for “near me” was “protests,” and the number nine was “Black-owned restaurants.” Fires and toilet paper made the top 10 as well. In the midst of all of the news-driven location searches, one bit of escapism came in at number 10: “Drive in movie theater near me.”
Top 10 trending searches for “near me” in 2020
- Drive in movie theater near me
- Black-owned restaurants near me
- Ballot drop box near me
- Nail salons open near me
- Toilet paper near me
- Protests near me
- Voting near me
- Fires near me
- Early voting near me
- Covid testing near me
Top trending recipes in 2020
Cooking in general, and bread specifically, ruled Instagram stories and the internet at large in the early days of the pandemic as restaurants were forced to close and new home cooks were born.
Google’s top trending recipe search was for sourdough bread, but there was so much more than just sourdough going on in the bread department (more on that later). Other trending recipe searches were more globally minded. Whipped coffee — with its globe-spanning backstory — came in as Google’s number two trending recipe search. And then there were the recipes for foods served at the places we love but couldn’t go anymore: Disneyland (“Disney churro” came in at number three, and Dole whip right after it), hotels (DoubleTree cookie ranked number five), and Ikea (its meatballs landed at number six).
Top 10 trending recipe searches in 2020
- Healthy banana bread
- Egg salad sandwich
- Hamburger bun
- Ikea meatball
- DoubleTree cookie
- Dole whip
- Disney churro
- Whipped coffee
- Sourdough bread
Many people had bread on their minds, from wild sourdough to various styles of bread from around the world. Digging just into breads, the top trending searches include classics, historical styles, and one TikTok trend.
Top trending bread searches in 2020
- Amish friendship bread
- Crusty bread
- Dutch oven bread
- Vegan banana bread
- Challah bread
- Chocolate chip banana bread
- Peanut butter bread
- Beer bread
- Cloud bread
- Sourdough bread
The top trending movies and shows that got us away from it all in 2020
Theaters, like restaurants, were forced to close. Streaming took over as a balm for boredom, anxiety, the loss of community, and so much more. Some major movie release dates were pushed back indefinitely, but those that made it to our small screens at home provided a much needed movie experience.
Top trending movies in 2020
- Fantasy Island
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Bad Boys 3
- Just Mercy
- Little Women
- Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
- Black Panther
Shows filled our time as well as binges led to a boom and bust cycle of people rushing through entire seasons. Remember when Tiger King came out on March 20?
Top trending TV shows in 2020
- The Last Dance
- All American
- Outer Banks
- Little Fires Everywhere
- The Queen’s Gambit
- The Umbrella Academy
- Cobra Kai
- Tiger King