NEWTON, Mass. – The results of annual summer travel survey of more than 2,000 U.S. respondents have been announced today. Eighty-six percent of travelers are planning leisure trips this summer; up from 83 percent that said they traveled last summer. While most Americans appear committed to taking vacations this summer, they are conscious of gas prices as 39 percent said the rising cost of fuel is affecting their summer travel plans. Eighteen percent of respondents expect to take fewer trips by car, 12 percent 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.
Aghast at Pump Predictions
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 percent predict prices at the pump will reach $5.00 per gallon, and 13 percent 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 percent said they will avoid road trips if costs exceed $5.00 per gallon.
Long Distance Decisions
As a result of the rising gas prices, 24 percent 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 percent would be willing to spend ten hours or more driving to a destination this summer.
More than a quarter of travelers surveyed (26 percent) said they will spend more on leisure travel this summer than last, while 42 percent expect to spend the same amount. Of those traveling this summer, 63 percent said they will drive and 62 percent expect to fly. Sixty-six percent said they will check into hotels this summer, 28 percent will stay with family or friends, and 18 percent will stay at vacation rental homes.
Memorial Day Movements
One-third of travelers surveyed (33 percent) plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend, up from 29 percent 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 percent will travel more than 100 miles, and 23 percent 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:
Driving for Memorial Day weekend
Flying for Memorial Day weekend
*Among respondents who are traveling for Memorial Day 2011
**Among respondents who traveled for Memorial Day 2010
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 percent of those traveling said they will take a city leisure trip. Forty percent noted they will stay at an ocean location, 18 percent will visit a national park, and 16 percent 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 percent) travelers are planning this summer, followed by water sports (22 percent). Biking and cycling is a growing trend — 22 percent plan to ride on two wheels this summer compared to 17 percent that said they did last summer. Camping is also up slightly — 12 percent are planning camping trips, compared to 10 percent one year ago.
Travelers’ Choice Top U.S. Destinations for Great Summer Escapes
TripAdvisor recently announced the Travelers’ Choice® Destinations awards honoring top travel spots in the U.S. and world based on millions of real and unbiased opinions from TripAdvisor travelers. Award winners were determined based on a combination of travelers’ favorite places and overall destination popularity.
1. New York City, New York
2. Honolulu, Hawaii
3. San Francisco, California
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
5. Lahaina, Hawaii
6. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
8. San Diego, California
9. Sedona, Arizona
10. Seattle, Washington
“Time and time again we see that U.S. travelers are undeterred by outside influences when it comes to summer travel,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor. “While rising gas prices will continue to keep Americans mindful of mileage, the vast majority intend to hit the road for leisure trips this summer.”