Holiday travel in 2021 will look very different than it did in 2020. More people are expected to travel, coronavirus cases are rising, a new variant is spreading and while more people are getting vaccinated everyday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued new guidance for both children’s vaccines and booster shots.

In short, the coronavirus is still a major concern for anyone traveling. And that’s why how each state is responding to the pandemic is once again a significant factor in our evaluation of the riskiest states to travel to this holiday season.

Key findings:

  • North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa are the riskiest states for holiday travel.
  • Louisiana, New York and Connecticut are the safest states for holiday travel.
  • New Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico were the riskiest states when evaluated on health factors alone.
  • Tennessee, Iowa and North Dakota were the riskiest states when evaluated on driving factors alone.

To find the riskiest states for fall travel, we evaluated each state based on 14 different health and safety factors. COVID-19 case rates, vaccination rates, hospital capacity, prevalence of new coronavirus variants and the number of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs were all considered. In the end, our analysts found that North Dakota is the riskiest state for holiday travel.

Riskiest states for Holiday travel
Overall rank State Health rank Driving rank
1 North Dakota 5 3
2 Wisconsin 8 5
3 Iowa 18 2
4 Tennessee 23 1
5 Nebraska 14 12
6 Ohio 15 15
7 Indiana 12 20
8 New Mexico 3 31
9 Kansas 16 21
10 South Carolina 19 18
11 Georgia 13 26
12 Minnesota 17 23
13 Rhode Island 27 13
14 Utah 33 7
15 North Carolina 20 22
16 Arizona 2 41
17 Kentucky 1 42
18 Pennsylvania 7 36
19 California 35 9
20 Alaska 37 8
21 Idaho 40 6
22 Massachusetts 30 16
23 Vermont 22 24
24 Colorado 28 19
25 Michigan 4 43
26 Missouri 9 38
27 Virginia 43 4
28 Arkansas 11 37
29 Wyoming 34 14
30 Oregon 36 17
31 New Jersey 44 11
32 Oklahoma 6 50
33 Maryland 47 10
34 Nevada 25 32
35 Texas 24 33
36 West Virginia 10 48
37 South Dakota 31 29
38 Maine 39 25
39 New Hampshire 21 47
40 Washington 41 27
41 Alabama 26 44
42 Florida 46 28
43 Montana 45 30
44 Illinois 32 45
45 Delaware 29 49
46 Hawaii 48 34
47 Mississippi 42 40
48 Louisiana 38 46
49 New York 49 35
50 Connecticut 50 39

While more and more people are getting vaccinated every day, we believe the coronavirus will continue to play a large role in people’s holiday travel plans. When measured on health factors alone, we found that Kentucky, Arizona and New Mexico are the riskiest places for holiday travel.

Overall health rankings
Overall health rank (worst to best) State Hospital capacity rank COVID-19 deaths rank COVID-19 case rank Underlying health conditions rank
1 Kentucky 8 1 21 3
2 Arizona 4 6 16 25
3 New Mexico 1 21 6 23
4 Michigan 19 2 2 15
5 North Dakota 29 8 19 21
6 Oklahoma 17 13 29 8
7 Pennsylvania 31 9 12 28
8 Wisconsin 25 17 10 33
9 Missouri 18 30 24 12
10 West Virginia 23 3 15 1
11 Arkansas 27 18 34 7
12 Indiana 38 12 7 19
13 Georgia 3 35 45 13
14 Nebraska 21 38 18 24
15 Ohio 34 16 9 11
16 Kansas 40 28 11 16
17 Minnesota 20 11 3 37
18 Iowa 30 19 17 27
19 South Carolina 13 32 42 9
20 North Carolina 22 39 32 14
21 New Hampshire 5 20 1 40
22 Vermont 9 33 5 46
23 Tennessee 45 5 35 6
24 Texas 16 37 46 10
25 Nevada 11 15 39 17
26 Alabama 6 44 47 4
27 Rhode Island 2 36 4 47
28 Colorado 12 7 27 50
29 Delaware 33 24 13 26
30 Massachusetts 10 27 8 49
31 South Dakota 50 14 20 30
32 Illinois 48 25 14 20
33 Utah 37 26 26 41
34 Wyoming 39 4 31 42
35 California 7 43 43 43
36 Oregon 24 22 41 29
37 Alaska 36 50 30 35
38 Louisiana 41 46 48 5
39 Maine 47 29 22 32
40 Idaho 14 23 36 36
41 Washington 15 31 40 38
42 Mississippi 42 49 44 2
43 Virginia 28 41 33 22
44 New Jersey 49 40 25 44
45 Montana 44 10 37 39
46 Florida 26 50 50 18
47 Maine 43 45 26 31
48 Maryland 39 40 40 45
49 New Jersey 47 47 37 34
50 Connecticut 48 49 42 48

We considered four different factors when compiling each state’s overall vacation rate: the number of unvaccinated people, how many booster shots have been distributed, the number of children who have been vaccinated and if the new Omicron variant has been detected in that state. Hawaii ranks lowest overall in vaccinations because of a low number of booster shots given and children who have been vaccinated.

Idaho has the lowest number of vaccinated people. New Jersey has given out the fewest booster shots. Vermont has the lowest number of children who have been vaccinated. And as of December 14, the Omicron variant has been detected in more than half of the country.

Vaccinations by State
Overall vaccination rank (worst to best) State Unvaccinated rank Booster doses rank Children vaccinated rank Omicron detected - as of Dec. 14
1 Hawaii 31 3 14 Yes
2 Wisconsin 29 4 17 Yes
3 Nebraska 27 2 22 Yes
4 Pennsylvania 28 5 18 Yes
5 Missouri 11 7 34 Yes
6 Alaska 19 9 20 No
7 Georgia 7 6 43 Yes
8 North Dakota 6 13 33 No
9 North Carolina 18 10 26 No
10 Utah 25 11 23 Yes
11 New Jersey 43 1 16 Yes
12 Arkansas 8 12 37 No
13 Louisiana 5 14 47 Yes
14 California 35 19 13 Yes
15 Texas 24 8 35 Yes
16 Arizona 22 16 31 Yes
17 Iowa 26 22 25 Yes
18 Kansas 20 21 28 No
19 Oklahoma 13 15 41 No
20 South Carolina 12 18 40 No
21 Mississippi 4 23 48 Yes
22 New Mexico 37 20 15 No
23 Vermont 50 24 1 No
24 Maine 48 26 3 No
25 South Dakota 23 28 27 No
26 Connecticut 47 29 7 Yes
27 Maryland 42 32 9 Yes
28 Washington 41 30 12 Yes
29 Illinois 33 41 10 Yes
30 Tennessee 9 27 44 No
31 Florida 30 17 38 Yes
32 Michigan 21 44 21 Yes
33 Indiana 10 33 39 No
34 Kentucky 15 31 36 No
35 Colorado 36 43 8 Yes
36 Alabama 3 34 46 No
37 Wyoming 2 36 45 No
38 Oregon 38 35 11 No
39 Minnesota 34 49 6 Yes
40 Ohio 16 40 29 No
41 Delaware 32 25 30 No
42 Massachusetts 46 46 2 Yes
43 Virginia 40 50 5 Yes
44 Montana 14 45 32 No
45 Rhode Island 49 38 4 No
46 Nevada 17 37 42 No
47 New York 45 39 19 Yes
48 Idaho 1 48 50 No
49 New Hampshire 39 42 24 No
50 West Virginia 44 47 49 No

Airline travel made a significant comeback this summer, but this holiday season, more people will be driving to their vacation destinations. After looking at each state’s number of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs, we found that Tennessee is the riskiest place for that long road trip.

Driving rankings
Overall rank State DUI rank Accidents rank Speeding rank
1 Tennessee 2 1 6
2 Iowa 6 12 5
3 North Dakota 3 16 7
4 Wisconsin 11 26 2
5 Virginia 15 13 11
6 Idaho 8 17 15
7 Utah 10 9 21
8 Alaska 13 20 10
9 California 5 4 37
10 Maryland 37 5 4
11 New Jersey 33 10 3
12 Nebraska 7 8 33
13 Rhode Island 28 3 19
14 Wyoming 1 29 26
15 Ohio 17 25 17
16 Massachusetts 24 2 34
17 South Carolina 48 7 9
18 Oregon 22 22 20
19 Colorado 20 33 13
20 Indiana 16 21 29
21 Kansas 26 27 14
22 North Carolina 23 18 27
23 Minnesota 14 44 12
24 Vermont 36 14 23
25 Maine 32 11 31
26 Georgia 35 15 28
27 Washington 30 24 24
28 Florida 34 6 39
29 South Dakota 12 47 22
30 Montana 4 35 44
31 New Mexico 9 32 50
32 Nevada 21 28 43
33 Texas 31 19 42
34 Hawaii 49 43 1
35 Pennsylvania 25 34 35
36 New York 50 36 8
37 Arkansas 27 38 30
38 Missouri 43 39 16
39 Connecticut 44 23 32
40 Mississippi 18 37 49
41 Arizona 29 40 36
42 Kentucky 19 46 41
43 Michigan 38 50 18
44 Alabama 39 30 46
45 Illinois 45 45 25
46 Louisiana 41 31 45
47 New Hampshire 46 42 40
48 West Virginia 42 49 38
49 Delaware 47 41 47
50 Oklahoma 40 48 48

Our analysis found that seven of the top 10 riskiest states to travel this holiday season are in the midwestern portion of the United States. This is largely due to the regions’ COVID-19 response. Many of the hospitals there are either at or near capacity, and a significant portion of the population remains unvaccinated.

Methodology:

QuoteWizard analyzed 12 metrics to find out the riskiest states to travel to. This includes driving accidents, speeding, DUIs, COVID-19 cases and deaths, unvaccinated rates (both doses, booster shots and children vaccination rates) and hospital capacity, which includes hospital beds, physicians, ICU bed capacity, underlying health condition rates and staffing shortages.

Each metric was ranked on a 1-50 scale, with an ascending score representing the least safe to safest conditions for specific state travel. We then determined each state’s safety ranking by averaging across all metric scores to calculate its overall ranking and used the resulting scores to rank-order each state.

Adult COVID-19 vaccination rates: QuoteWizard analyzed CDC data on adults who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Our ranking is based on states that had the lowest to highest percentages of adults with both doses of a vaccine as of Dec. 10.

Dangerous driving states: Driving rankings were compiled from QuoteWizard’s proprietary data. State’s were ranked based on the rate of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs.

COVID-19 case and death rates: We looked at CDC data on the United States daily average COVID-19 Cases and deaths by state per 100K in the last seven days starting Dec. 10.

Hospital capacity: We averaged four metrics: hospital beds and physicians per 1000 residents, current ICU bed capacity and rate of hospital staffing shortages. To calculate the number of available ICU beds in each state, we used data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) compiled starting on December 10. Data on the number of ICU beds and physicians per capita was compiled using information from the Kaiser Family Foundation and HHS. To calculate the least-prepared states for hospital capacity, we generated an aggregate score based on the number of available ICU beds, physicians per capita and current hospital capacity.