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This Summer’s Travel Trends: Shorter, Cheaper Trips and More Driving Unless You’re Rich

Discover the latest travel trends for this summer as the U.S. pandemic emergency comes to an end. While travel restrictions have been lifted, inflation is affecting most vacationers’ plans, with wealthier Americans indulging in lavish trips. Read on to learn more.

Summer is here, and many travelers are eager to embark on their long-awaited vacations. However, this year’s travel landscape presents some unique challenges and trends. As the U.S. pandemic emergency concludes and travel restrictions ease, the effects of inflation are still impacting most vacationers’ plans, except for the wealthier segment of the population who are splurging on luxurious getaways.

According to a recent survey by Bankrate, 63% of U.S. adults plan to travel this summer, showing an increase from 61% during the same period last year. This surge in travel demand has airlines preparing for high volumes, while aviation authorities are warning of potential flight disruptions.

Although inflation has eased to 4.9% in April, down from its peak of 9.1% last June, many travel costs continue to rise faster than the headline inflation rate. This situation presents a challenge for those seeking affordable travel options this summer. Travel expert Sally French from NerdWallet states that “this summer is set to be rough for people seeking to travel affordably.”

Despite these obstacles, 80% of travelers are determined to find ways to economize. While airline ticket prices have seen a minimal decrease of just 0.9% compared to last year, gasoline prices have dropped by more than 12%. As a result, 26% of vacationers are opting for road trips instead of flying. Rental car prices have also fallen by over 11% from the previous year, making this mode of transportation more appealing.

Bankrate’s survey reveals that 29% of summer travelers are choosing cheaper accommodations or destinations, a significant increase from 22% last year. Additionally, 26% of travelers are planning to reduce the number of days spent on vacation. These adjustments allow travelers to save money without completely abandoning their summer getaway plans.

Another strategy travelers are employing is the use of loyalty points and rewards programs to reduce costs. Research conducted by Morning Consult found that 34% of travelers are utilizing their accumulated points this year, compared to 28% in July of the previous year. Experts suggest that cashing in these points not only frees up money for other expenses but also acts as an effective tactic against inflation.

It’s worth noting that travelers are also mindful of their financial management during their trips. A whopping 85% of travelers plan to charge their summer trip expenses to credit cards, with nearly three-quarters of them intending to pay off these charges immediately upon receiving their billing statement. However, due to rising interest rates, the remaining 26% who expect to carry travel-related balances may end up paying significantly more than anticipated.

While the desire to travel remains strong, industry research firm Destinations Analysts found that 55% of American travelers consider traveling a high priority in their spending for the next three months, marking a 6-point decrease compared to the previous year. Additionally, the same group reported a nearly 8-point decline in the number of travelers who believe it is a good time to take a trip, with only 30% expressing such sentiments.

Despite the challenges, many travelers remain optimistic and determined to enjoy their vacations. Marcy Schackne from Hollywood, Florida, emphasizes that although prices are higher, she is willing to use more of her savings to maintain her desired travel experiences.

Luxury travel agency owner Sandy Staples affirms the continued demand for summer travel, stating, “Summer travel requests have been coming to the point that my team and I have had to make the decision to not take any additional requests.” She describes this phenomenon as the continuation of “revenge travel” following the pandemic.

In conclusion, this summer’s travel trends are characterized by shorter, cheaper trips and an increased preference for driving, primarily influenced by inflation and its impact on travel costs. While some travelers are adjusting their plans to accommodate these challenges, others are embracing the opportunity to indulge in extravagant vacations. Regardless of the circumstances, the desire to explore and create lasting memories remains resilient among travelers across the nation.

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