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One in Four Americans Plan to Travel Less This Summer

One in Four Americans Plan to Travel Less This Summer

by Dennis Jacobe

PRINCETON, NJ -- When asked about their summer travel plans -- including vacations and weekend trips -- in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 27% of Americans say they will travel less this year than last while 18% say they will travel more. Another 37% say they will travel the same amount, and 18% say they don't travel much. These travel intentions appear to be highly influenced by consumers' economic confidence.


Those who rate the current economy "poor" are much more likely to say they intend to travel less than those who rate the economy "excellent/good" or "only fair." Similarly, those who say the economy is "getting worse" are much more likely to say they intend to travel less than who say it is "getting better." It appears that consumer expectations about the future of the economy play a role in their comfort with spending money on travel this summer.

Just about as many men under 50 years of age say they will travel more as say they will travel less. On the other hand, many more women of the same age say they will travel less than say they will travel more. While more men and women over 50 say they intend to travel less rather than more this summer, the intention to cut back on travel is particularly strong among women over 50. In the East, just about as many Americans say they will travel more as less. In the other three regions, far more say they will travel less this summer than travel more.


Americans Plan to Spend More on Transportation and Other Vacation Costs

While many Americans say they plan to travel less this summer, one in three say they expect to spend more on transportation to and from their vacation destinations while one in five expects to spend less. Similarly, 27% expect to spend more on food, lodging, and entertainment this summer than last summer. Twenty-one percent plan to spend less and 34% the same amount.


Traveling Less but Enjoying it More

According to the authors of Gallup's new book Wellbeing, a key to financial wellbeing is to "buy experiences -- such as vacations and outings with friends or loved ones." While current economic circumstances may allow Americans fewer trips this year than last, it appears they intend to spend more on transportation and other vacation expenses. It may be that when they do take a trip, Americans will be going farther away or staying longer. That is, they may be enhancing their wellbeing by buying richer experiences, even if they feel they can do so less often.

For those in the travel industry, this may mean that getting the potential customer to a particular destination or location may be even more important than in past years. Fewer travelers will result in more intense competition for each customer. However, since Americans intend to spend more on recreation this summer, the benefits of getting consumers to your desired destination should be greater than in the past.

Finally, consumer perceptions of the economy in the near term may be significant in determining how much travel Americans actually engage in. The recreation industry could benefit if perceptions of the economy improve in the weeks ahead -- something one can monitor daily by checking out Gallup's economic confidence measures. reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence and Job Creation, Consumer Spending

Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

Read more about Gallup's economic measures.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted May 18, 2010 with a random sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18+, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using a random-digit dial sampling technique.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones and cellular phones.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

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