An overwhelming 88 percent of Americans plan to take a summer vacation this year, up 11 percent year-over-year, with more than half of travelers using reward points to book hotel and airfare, according to new survey data released by Orbitz.com.
The overhang from the brutal winter will see travelers seeking solace in warm temperatures regardless of increased travel costs, Orbitz.com says, but notes travelers can expect to pay more for air travel and hotel prices alike this summer.
To help offset costs, Americans are keeping summer travel almost exclusively domestic this year. Cancun, Mexico is the only international destination and leads the top ten air travel list, followed by Las Vegas, Orlando, Seattle and Los Angeles, Orbitz says.
On average, airfares are up 6 percent and hotels prices are up 12 percent in top destinations. While costs and the number of travelers are up over the previous summer, consumers are also willing to spend more on their trip this summer, the survey reports.
Over half of travelers (51 percent) surveyed said they would spend $2,000 or more for their summer vacation versus 44 percent in 2013. Travelers on a budget said they would cash-in rewards points or buy food and eat some meals in their room instead of dining out to save money this summer.
"Staycations are a thing of the past. This year we're seeing more Americans traveling and, in fact, taking advantage of smart tactics to save costs and upgrade vacations," said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor of Orbitz.com.
"The majority of consumers said that they would redeem credit card points on their summer vacations so if they have been using a card with good travel rewards, it could be a big help in offsetting summer vacation costs. For example, the average consumer spends $2,780 on travel and $10,000 on non-travel credit card purchases each year. That consumer could earn $423 in rewards towards a hotel stay on Orbitz.com if they used the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card, and that could translate into 2 or 3 free hotel room nights," Tornatore said.
Highlights from the Orbitz Summer Travel Insider Index include:
- Orlando is bumped from the top spot by Cancun, perhaps due to rising prices in one of America's favorite family destinations – airfares are up 12 percent while hotels rose 8 percent.
- Americans are seeking urban getaways this summer, with cities accounting for half of the destinations in this year's list.
- While hotel prices are up, travelers can still find hotel rooms under $200 in half of the top 10 destinations.Knowing when to travel can also be a key differentiator when it comes to savings and the overall enjoyment of a vacation. According to the Orbitz.com summer survey, the majority of travelers prefer to take summer vacations in June and July (71 percent). Orbitz suggests traveling in August may offer additional savings and smaller crowds compared to the earlier summer months.
Orbitz also offers insights to keep in mind when booking summer vacations:
- Travelers can expect the biggest crowds of the summer on the Friday before Memorial Day (May 23).
- The July Fourth holiday falls on a Friday this year. Nearly 60 percent of travelers are taking an additional vacation day to take advantage of the long weekend and will be leaving on Thursday, July 3 – also one of the top 10 busiest travel days this summer.
- The busiest travel days for summer are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Travelers should consider vacations on Sunday through Wednesday for lower volume days which could also result in less cost, Orbitz.com says.