As another year draws to a close, Orbitz releases its final Insider Index of the year, looking back at when and where Americans spent their travel dollars in 2009 and offering insight for planning travel in the year ahead.
Busiest Air Travel Weeks in 2009: It may surprise many travelers, who waited in long security lines over Thanksgiving, to learn that this was not the busiest travel time of the year. In fact, Thanksgiving was the third busiest week, with more travelers heading to the airport during the weeks of Christmas and Fourth of July. For travelers looking to avoid crowds at the airport, the slowest travel time this year will be the week after Christmas.
The busiest travel weeks of 2009 were:
2. July 4th
4. Third week of June
5. First week of August
Top 2009 U.S. Destinations: With average hotel rates even lower that they were in 2008, it's no surprise that Las Vegas continues to reign as the top U.S. destination. Looking more closely at average hotel rates, travelers found better hotel deals overall in 2009 than in 2008, with significant rate drops in major destinations, such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Top 2009 U.S. destinations and change in room rate when compared to 2008:
1 Las Vegas, -26 percent
2 New York, -22 percent
3 Chicago, -19 percent
4 Orlando, -9 percent
5 Los Angeles, -13 percent
6 Washington, DC, -6 percent
7 San Francisco, -16 percent
8 San Diego, -12 percent
9 Boston, -11 percent
10 Miami, -7 percent
Top 2009 International Destinations: Americans looking for an international escape spent a good deal of their travel dollars in warm weather destinations, with six hot spots in Mexico and the Caribbean dominating the Top 10. London and Paris, typically two of the more expensive European cities, both saw average daily hotel rates drop more than 15 percent.
Top 2009 International destinations and change in room rate when compared to 2008
1 Cancun, -12 percent
2 London, -16 percent
3 Riviera Maya, -12 percent
4 San Juan, Puerto Rico, -15 percent
5 Toronto, -15 percent
6 Jamaica, -10 percent
7 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, -8 percent
8 Los Cabos, -11 percent
9 Paris, -18 percent
10 Vancouver, -17 percent
Top 2009 Holiday Weekend Destinations: As travelers looked for long weekend getaways over the popular U.S. holiday weekends such as Thanksgiving, Presidents Weekend and Memorial Day, it was a weekend escape in the city that prevailed with lower average hotel rates in some of the nation's top cities.
Top 2009 holiday weekend destinations
1 Las Vegas
4 New York
5 Washington, DC
6 Los Angeles
7 San Diego
8 San Francisco
A Look Ahead— Finding Deals in 2010
As many travelers are already dreaming of where to take a vacation in 2010, Orbitz insiders offer some insight into where to find deals in the year ahead.
"In 2010, Vegas will have more hotel rooms than ever before. The new CityCenter resort community is not only going to be the hottest new destination on The Strip, but the thousands of additional hotel rooms will mean more options and great room rates for travelers. Everyone will want to check out the all suite, non-smoking Vdara, and the heart of CityCenter, ARIA." -- Reid Webster, regional director for Orbitz Worldwide
"Travelers will find plenty of reasons for a Hawaii vacation in the year ahead. We're already seeing spectacular offers for travel during the first half of the year. With newly renovated hotels right on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, aggressive discounts at four-star hotels and very reasonable winter airfares, Hawaii looks to be even more affordable for travelers in 2010." -- Stacey Meyer, Hawaii senior market manager for Orbitz Worldwide
"Already ski country in North America has had an incredible early season, bountiful with a slew of storms, creating a fantastic base for skiers. We're seeing bigger hotel discounts for longer lengths of stay, which help travelers enjoy the snow for a longer period. Areas some would previously consider higher-priced destinations, such as Vail or Aspen, are offering as much as 40 percent off four-night stays at luxurious four-star properties. Overall, I'm seeing better deals for ski vacations this season than I did the season following 9/11." -- David De Lalio, ski and mountain senior market manager for Orbitz Worldwide
"We're anticipating 2010 to be a consumer's market for cruises, with even better deals than last year. Travelers booking early in the year, which is typically high season, will be able to feel good about getting a great price. And with some amazing new ships that have more enticing features than ever before, travelers will find plenty of incentives to book a cabin." -- Jessica Labaire, merchandising manager for Orbitz.com.