With airline capacity growth constrained and airfare and lodging prices higher than 2012, 86 percent of travelers planning a trip between Thanksgiving and New Year`s have already booked at least part of their travel, according to the Orbitz Holiday Travel Insider Index.
The new Orbitz research finds nearly three quarters of Americans plan to travel this holiday season, ranking visiting family a priority over gifts.
The Index identifies the most popular destinations as well as average flight and hotel prices for the 2013 holiday travel season, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year`s Eve based on Orbitz bookings.
The Index shows average airfare up 7 percent overall to the Top 10 destinations, while hotel rates are up 10 percent compared to the same period last year.
In its survey of over 750 self-identified travel consumers, 72 percent of holiday travelers are planning to stay at a hotel over crashing in the bunk beds in their old room. Some travelers apparently cannot escape the guilt trip from grandma because 86 percent actually would prefer to stay at a hotel, Orbitz says.
Additionally, the survey found travelers are making fiscally-conscious considerations this year, with 62 percent of respondents stating they were willing to forego purchasing gifts to cover the costs of traveling to be with family.
Other key highlights from the survey include:
• Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most traveled-for holidays, with 60 percent planning to head home for a turkey dinner and 75 percent of respondents traveling to swap gifts with friends and family
• 71 percent are budgeting $3,000 or less for holiday travel
• The most popular cost saving methods this holiday season include: booking early (51 percent), traveling on off-peak days (39 percent), staying with family/friends for at least part of their trip (35 percent), and packing light to avoid baggage fees (32 percent)
• 69 percent of travelers plan to check an extra piece of luggage to either take or bring back holiday gifts
• The average family of four plans to travel with at least one computing device per person - with nearly half expecting to pack a combination of at least seven smartphones, tablets and laptops.
"The wait-and-see game does not apply to holiday travel - with costs steadily increasing earlier in the year, consumers need to lock in their plans as quickly as possible," said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor for Orbitz.com.
"We are already seeing Orbitz customers taking advantage of the new Orbitz Rewards loyalty program which allows members to book flights, earn Orbucks and then immediately use their rewards on the booking of a hotel room for that same trip. Travelers are telling us they love the easy rules and no blackout dates to allow them to use their loyalty rewards during even the busiest travel time of the year."
Tornatore said that other holiday promotions of the Orbitz Rewards program also fit nicely with holiday travel budgets such as saving on checked bag fees. The Orbitz mobile apps have a "Zap that Bag Fee" feature that allows customers who booked their flight on Orbitz to easily take a picture of their checked baggage fee receipt, send it to Orbitz and earn $25 in bonus Orbucks through November 30.
Orbitz 2013 Holiday Travel Insider Index: Orbitz has identified the Top 10 destinations travelers plan to visit for the 2013 holiday travel season. The Index not only provides the Top 10 holiday destinations for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year`s based on bookings, but also evaluates the average airfare and daily hotel rates in each of the most popular markets.
Top Thanksgiving Destinations & Highlights: Airfares over the Thanksgiving holiday increased by 15 percent, with ticket prices up in nine of the 10 most popular locations. No doubt thanks in part to the popular Macy`s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York ranks as the top destination for Thanksgiving travel. San Francisco was the sole destination with a year-over-year decrease in airfare. While flight prices may be up overall, holiday jet-setters can still find great bargains on hotels. In fact, more than of half of the top 10 destinations have hotel rates averaging under $150 per night, Orbitz says.
New York, NY, Orlando, FL, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA rank among the top five domestic destinations.
Top Christmas Destinations & Highlights: While temperatures may fall over the Christmas holidays, airfares do not, Orbitz reports. Still, travelers can find some refuge with hotel rates less than $150 a night on average at half of the top 10 destinations. Travelers are flocking to warmer weather this Christmas, with Florida, Mexico and California leading the charge as the most favored destinations.
Top New Year`s Destinations & Highlights: Ringing in the New Year always motivates travelers to descend upon some of the country`s hot party spots, Orbitz says. This year`s top 10 destinations see a mix of price increases and decreases for flights. Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas took top honors as the most popular destinations, but travelers can still find affordable fares and hotels at a number of the country`s top locations. Watching the ball drop live from Times Square is within reach this year with hotel prices in New York showing the smallest increase, with prices rising just 4 percent over 2012, Orbitz says.
The Orbitz holiday survey was fielded by Orbitz from October 2 - 6, 2013 via insightexpress. 753 U.S. adults aged 18 and older who had traveled within the past twelve months were surveyed.