Staycations, road trips and flexibility pave the way to US tourism recovery
Summer travel unarguably looks different this summer, and the latest travel industry report sheds light on the emerging priorities and behaviors of Americans looking to get away. Leveraging search and demand data and a national poll of 1,000+ Americans, results from the report include:
- 85 percent of U.S. travelers are likely to take a road trip this summer
- Interest in domestic summer stays is up 10 percent year-on-year, making up nearly 85 percent of hotel searches overall in June
- Demand for staycations is on the rise
- Flexibility is key: 97 percent of stays booked in June were refundable rates, up nearly 20 percent year-on-year
- Health and safety, avoiding crowds prioritized over price
Summer travelers staying closer to home
Traveling within the U.S. is always a popular option for Americans, but international travel restrictions coupled with health and safety uncertainty has led to a 10 percent increase in domestic summer travel searches, according to the latest data. Nearly 85 percent of hotel searches on the site in June were for accommodations located within the U.S. Furthermore, about a quarter of June bookings were for same-state stays, a slight increase from last year.
Last-minute getaways are also on the rise, with more travelers booking trips 0-7 days out this summer than in previous years.
While the desire to get away is still going strong for many people, how and where they are choosing to go this summer looks different. Beaches and national parks remain popular, but more Americans are choosing destinations that are closer to home and drivable, versus going somewhere more exotic. Interestingly, the travelers are making these plans at the last minute. Things are so unpredictable right now with COVID-19, so it’s possible that travelers feel more comfortable making travel plans for the near future vs. planning too far ahead.
Safety first: road trips seen as the safest way to get away this summer
According to the survey, 85 percent say they’re planning or likely to go on a road trip this summer, driven primarily by the need for a change of scenery (43%) and the desire to enjoy the outdoors (36%).
As travelers venture away from home and destinations open back up to tourism, health and safety takes priority over price when trip-planning. 72 percent of survey respondents said they’re opting for a road trip this summer because it feels safer than flying, and more people listed health and safety (72%) and avoiding crowds (68%) as top concerns over budget (60%). In response to these concerns, the industry is rolling out new sanitation measures to help minimize risks.
With so much uncertainty impacting vacation plans this year, many travelers are opting for plans that can be easily adjusted, canceled or rescheduled. The latest data shows 97 percent of hotel stays booked in June were refundable rates, a 20 percent increase from the year prior.
People often choose non-refundable rates because they’re generally cheaper, but with so many destinations eager to welcome back tourists it’s more realistic than ever to find a great value without having to sacrifice flexibility.
Planning tips and tricks
Survey respondents weighed in with their top advice and considerations for those planning a summer road trip:
- Have a plan. Thinking about where to stop for gas, how long to drive each day and what time of day to drive through a town are all aspects of a road trip to map out in advance.
- Know where to stay. If you’re among the 52 percent of travelers staying in hotels & motels this summer, make sure to research ahead of time or inquire about specific policies such as whether the property will have decreased occupancy. Other accommodation types people will most likely opt for on a road trip this summer include staying with friends/family (31%), vacation rentals (28%) and camping (24%).
- Do vehicle maintenance. Car trouble, especially with kids or pets in the mix, is rarely a fun experience. When planning a road trip, have your car serviced or inspected before leaving. Alternately, rent a car with better gas mileage or more space. Bundling a hotel and car rental on Expedia.com can also mean hundreds in trip savings.
- Download apps. Whether it’s a kid-friendly game or navigation, it’s a good idea to download any apps you’ll need before hitting the road.
- Remember to bring cash. Tolls, cash-only services and tipping are just a few things you might need money for during a road trip.
- Pack the essentials. In addition to clothing and toiletries, road trippers advise bringing snacks, an emergency kit, cleaning/sanitary products, valid documents (ID and insurance card) and a spare car key.