Despite Gas Prices, Vast Majority Plan to Travel this Summer

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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.]