After a dip in 2016, more travelers from the U.S. and Europe are set to take a summer vacation, although durations and budgets are set to decline, according to an annual survey conducted by Generali Global Assistance. The survey, in its 17th year, found that 66 percent of Americans plan to travel this summer, up five percentage points from 2016. That compares to 63 percent of Europeans who will travel this summer, which is an increase of nine percentage points from last year.
The survey noted that although more people are travelling, they are doing so for a shorter duration. Americans will go on vacation this summer for an average of 1.4 weeks, down from 1.7 weeks in 2016. Europeans saw an even more precipitous drop from an average of 2.4 weeks in 2016 to 1.9 weeks this year. Brazilians checked in with the longest average duration in 2017 at 2.2 weeks.
“The shorter travel durations are explained by sizeable decreases in traveler’s budgets this year,” said Chris Carnicelli, CEO, Generali Global Assistance North America, in a written release. “U.S. travelers are dropping their budgets by 20 percent to an average $2,679, while Europeans budgets are decreasing by 14 percent to €1,989. This is significant because budget once again ranked as the number one factor for travelers when deciding on a summer vacation location.”
With budgetary constraints on the rise, travelers are electing to vacation within the confines of their own boarders this summer, Generali said. This was especially true in France (63%), Spain (52%), and Italy (56%). By comparison, 41 percent of Americans said they would keep to U.S. when it came to travel this summer. The most likely to venture beyond their boarders are Belgian (16%) and Swiss travelers (20%). In fact, these are the only two countries where more travelers are planning to head to a foreign country than to stay within their own this summer.
While the seaside is the favorite destination of European travelers at 63 percent, the most sought after for U.S. travelers this summer will be urban locations at 46 percent. For Americans, the beach ranked number two on the list at 43 percent followed by the mountains (46%), the countryside (24%), and touring (23%). Spain ranked as the highest in terms of European countries where travelers showed a penchant for urban travel at 43 percent, an increase of 16 percentage points over 2016. For Americans, Paris ranked as the top city that travelers wished to visit at least once in their lives, with New York City and London tying for second. For Europeans, the top choice was New York City with Paris and Rome rounding out the top three.
During vacation, Americans are the most connected to their work – with only 40 percent saying they will completely unplug, 21 percent will monitor email but not respond, and 7 percent will continue to answer email and respond to calls. Europeans are significantly better with 68 percent saying they will unplug, but that is down five percentage points from last year.
Hotel stays are still the most popular form of lodging amongst Americans (57%) and Europeans (47%) alike. However, other types of accommodations are becoming more popular with travelers. Americans are more likely to seek out free-of-charge options like staying with friends or family at 32 percent, compared to 22 percent of Europeans. However, Americans are less likely to use person-to-person rentals or exchanges at just 18 percent. This form of accommodation is second behind hotels for Europeans at 35 percent and, is actually the most preferred lodging for the French at 42 percent - the only group for which hotels are not the number one option.
Within the rental/exchange segment, there are some differences by country. The French are the most interested in rentals of a private house or apartment from an individual, but are significantly less interested in renting a room in a private home or being part of a home exchange. Brazilians are the most likely to rent a single room in a house at 34 percent and Americans and the Swiss are tied in terms of utilizing home exchanges (19%).
New travel practices that are more in touch with nature are also becoming more en vogue, according to the report. Americans are more likely to engage in these types of adventures than their European counterparts across the board. Camping is the most popular activity for both demographics with 48 percent of Americans and 23 percent of Europeans having slept in a tent under the stars. Additionally, 40 percent of Americans have slept in a cabin (vs. 18% of Europeans) and 20 percent have gone on an eco-tourism trip designed to explore nature while minimizing harmful human impacts (vs. 13% of Europeans).
Along the same lines, Americans and Brazilians are a bit more adventurous when it comes to alternative lodging choices not involving nature. For Brazilians, the practice of staying in a local’s home while travelling is widely accepted as 41 percent have done so compared to 30 percent of Americans and 24 percent of Europeans. The same hierarchy holds true for hosting travelers in their own homes, with 18 percent of Brazilians, 14 percent of Americans and just 7 percent of Europeans having engaged in that practice.
Checking online reviews has become common practice among travelers on both sides of the pond. For Americans and Europeans (both 31%), online peer reviews are now the third most important factor when it comes to choosing vacation lodging. For Americans, the number one determining factor when selecting lodging is the location, while for Europeans prize value and price. Amenities and pictures of the place rank four and five respectively for both demographic segments.
Carnicelli said, “The majority of Americans going on summer vacation this year will have travel insurance for things like lost or stolen baggage (59%), medical coverage for themselves or family (69%), vehicle breakdowns (70%), or a transportation accident (64%). Interestingly, the most common reason given for not buying travel insurance was that they didn’t think to do so.”