TripAdvisor recently announced the results of its annual summer travel survey of more than 2,000 U.S. respondents. Eighty-six percent of travelers are planning leisure trips this summer; up from 83% that said they traveled last summer. While most Americans appear committed to taking vacations this summer, they are conscious of gas prices as 39% said the rising cost of fuel is affecting their summer travel plans. Eighteen percent of respondents expect to take fewer trips by car, 12% intend to take shorter driving trips and five percent are not planning to travel at all this summer, as a result of rising fuel prices.
PAIN AT THE PUMP
The majority of U.S. travelers expect gas prices to continue to rise throughout the summer. Seventy-six percent expect gas prices to hit at least $4.50 per gallon for regular fuel, 26% predict prices at the pump will reach $5.00 per gallon, and 13% foresee prices exceeding $5.00 per gallon. Eighteen percent said they will bypass car trips if gas prices reach $5.00 per gallon, and an additional 20% said they will avoid road trips if costs exceed $5.00 per gallon.
As a result of the rising gas prices, 24% of travelers said the maximum distance they are willing to drive for a leisure trip this summer is 200 miles. However, if it meant significant savings on airfare costs, 21% would be willing to spend ten hours or more driving to a destination this summer.
More than a quarter of travelers surveyed (26%) said they will spend more on leisure travel this summer than last, while 42% expect to spend the same amount. Of those traveling this summer, 63% said they will drive and 62% expect to fly. Sixty-six percent said they will check into hotels this summer, 28% will stay with family or friends, and 18% will stay at vacation rental homes.
MEMORIAL DAY TRAVEL
One-third of travelers surveyed (33%) plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend, up from 29% that said they traveled for the holiday last year. Twenty-one percent of respondents will drive to their Memorial Day weekend destinations. Of those respondents driving, 71% will travel more than 100 miles, and 23% will drive more than 300 miles.
While more travelers plan to travel for Memorial Day this year, fewer expect to travel by car and more intend to fly. Twenty-nine percent said rising fuel prices have affected their Memorial Day travel plans. Fifteen percent said they are not planning to travel as a result, and seven percent will take a shorter trip by car.
CITY TRUMPS OCEAN
When asked about the destination setting type for their vacation this summer, 50% of those traveling said they will take a city leisure trip. Forty percent noted they will stay at an ocean location, 18% will visit a national park, and 16% will travel to a lake. New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. are the three most popular U.S. spots this summer, according to the survey.
TAKE A HIKE, RIDE A BIKE
Americans are again looking to take advantage of the great outdoors this summer. Hiking is the most popular activity (33%) travelers are planning this summer, followed by water sports (22%). Biking and cycling is a growing trend — 22% plan to ride on two wheels this summer compared to 17% that said they did last summer. Camping is also up slightly — 12% are planning camping trips, compared to 10% one year ago.[Source: Annual Summer Travel Survey. TripAdvisor. 16 May 2011. Web. 18 May 2011.]