After a year of living under pandemic restrictions, Americans are ready to hit the open road and spend big this summer.
“Some Americans may not have had a summer vacation since 2019, and so there's clearly a lot of pent-up demand,” Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor at The Points Guy, told Yahoo Finance Live. “Nearly half of prospective travelers plan to spend more than $1,000 on their summer vacations, which indicates they're ready to make up for lost time by spending more for bigger trips.”
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Half of U.S. adults — and 54% of vaccinated ones — are likely to take at least one vacation this June through September, according to a survey of 2,575 adults from The Points Guy and Healthline Media. More than 2 in 5 plan to spend over $1,000 — including 1 in 5 who intend to spend more than $2,000. Baby Boomers are poised to spend the most, followed by Gen Xers, then Millennials, with Gen Zers spending the least.
Among the big spenders, Lieberman speculated that people want to “splash out” and create that “big experience,” but might not be spending in obvious ways like luxe accommodations or splurging at pricier restaurants. Americans are instead making spending priorities based on safety relative to the pandemic.
“People might be upgrading to first class, they might be booking a private villa, or vacation rental,” she said, “things [that] can give them more peace of mind and help them really enjoy that first trip.”
Domestic trips still reign supreme. When international destinations were off limits to U.S. passport holders last summer, Americans explored domestic locations like national parks, lakes, and beaches, and gave the road trip its renaissance moment. Lieberman forecasts that the summer road trip trend will carry over into 2021 as well as any destination where travelers “can stay outside” and “enjoy the nice weather.”
Since Hawaii has reopened to tourists from the mainland, Americans are flying to the Aloha State and it tops the list of destinations, Lieberman said. It’s joined by hot spots like the country’s national parks and Florida. Outside the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean “continue to be really popular because international travel is still quite difficult and the options are quite limited for Americans at this time,” she said.
The duration of trips also mirror the trend established in 2020 with people opting for longer trips and staying at short-term vacation rental properties since the pandemic has made for “a slightly more complicated travel experience,” as Lieberman put it. “When people do travel, they're often looking to stay there and spend more to have that experience.”
With Americans flocking to the same destinations, scoring a good deal is still possible, Lieberman said, provided travelers are willing to bend on some specifics.
“To get those deals, you're going to have to be really flexible and you might need to think outside the box a little bit,” she said, suggesting visiting a more affordable city over a pricey beach resort and getting flexible with dates and length of stay. She also shared that “value added incentives” like resort or property credits are not to be overlooked and bring an experience that was previously outside of your budget within reach.