Holiday Travel Up Across All Age, Income Groups: Deloitte

Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans intend to travel between Thanksgiving and mid-January, with a larger share taking trips beyond only visiting family and friends. In fact, according to Deloitte’s “2023 Holiday Travel Survey,” intent to travel this holiday season is up across all age and income groups with an average holiday budget of $2,725.

Interestingly, while more Americans intend to travel, they will on average take fewer trips (1.88 in 2023 vs. 2.01 in 2022) that are shorter in duration (75 percent say their longest trip will last one week or less vs. 69 percent in 2022), but plan to spend more this year. That said, about one in five travelers (18 percent) said they plan to spend more only due to higher prices. Another 18 percent reported they are spending significantly less on holiday travel than last year, citing financial concerns. (Along those same lines, for those not traveling, finances are the top deterrent (38 percent). Health and disruption worries are lower on the list, cited by only 11 percent of non-travelers each (compared to 18 percent in 2022) and indicating that the concerns over the pandemic may be leveling out.)

With fewer trips planned, travel concentrates around two major holidays: Thanksgiving through the end of November (33 percent) and Christmas through New Year’s Eve (27 percent). Not surprisingly, connecting with loved ones is the top motivator for 58 percent of travelers’ longest trip these holidays. Another 51 percent of travelers are seeking rest and relaxation. While both are often big travel motivators, travelers put a greater emphasis on these factors during the holidays than in the summer.

Who’s traveling? Boomers, who constituted just one-fifth (21 percent) of the traveling public over the holidays in 2022, will make up 29 percent of travelers. Boomers also tend to spend more per trip compared to Gen Z and Millennials. That said, younger generations are planning to take more trips and to spend more across the season than years past. Gen Z travelers are planning an average of 2.1 trips over the holidays, a close second to Millennials at 2.2. One in 4 Gen Z travelers say they will significantly increase their budgets year-over-year, the highest portion of any generation. Twenty-two percent of Millennials also plan to significantly increase their holiday travel budget this season.

How Americans Are Traveling

Bell as reception desk with tree and stockings behind

As for where these travelers are staying, “hotels are back in a big way,” according to Deloitte. Fifty-six percent of holiday travelers plan to book a stay at some point this holiday season, up from 35 percent in 2022. Preference for private rentals remains flat at 15 percent. Note: Gen Z and Millennials also lead in efforts to travel more sustainably, particularly when it comes to prioritizing hotels with higher sustainability ratings (23 percent and 25 percent, respectively), which is the most popular environmentally conscious travel choice.

In addition, more than one-third (37 percent) of travelers will take a flight at least once during the holiday season. Meanwhile, about half (53 percent) of American travelers are planning road trips, down from nearly two-thirds (64 percent) in 2021.

While 26 percent of air travelers will fly to international destinations, overseas travel makes up a bigger share of travel in early January compared to the rest of the season. International travelers are also more likely to stay in paid lodging (73 percent in hotels and 28 percent in private rentals for at least part of their longest holiday trip), with one in five still reporting they are making up for trips they missed out on due to the pandemic. International travelers are more likely to rely on social media to select their travel destinations (52 percent vs. 39 percent domestic travelers) as well as social content like apps, videos, travel websites and Generative AI.

Participation in travel activities is up across most categories year-over-year, including visiting a major attraction (43 percent in 2023 vs. 36 percent in 2022) and attending a ticketed event such as a concert or festival (30 percent in 2023 vs. 23 percent in 2022).

Remote Work Remains Popular

Man working on laptop next to pool

Many remote workers will continue to take advantage of flexible office arrangements to extend and enhance their holiday travel experiences. One in three travelers (34 percent) say they are likely to work on their longest trip of the holiday season. These “laptop luggers” skew young and wealthy compared to overall travelers.

To note: Laptop-lugging rates among higher-income travelers increased by 30 percent year-over-year, while lower- income travelers are half as likely to bring work with them as they were last year. Laptop luggers continue to take more (and longer) trips throughout the season: They plan for 2.3 trips on average, with their longest trip extended by four days due to remote work. On average, travelers will add five travel days across the holiday season if able to work remotely.

These travelers planning to work during their longest holiday trip set themselves apart with higher budgets for both the overall season and their longest trip. They also plan to splurge on upgraded airfare and lodging.

Methodology: Deloitte’s “2023 Holiday Travel Survey” is based on a survey of 5,281 Americans fielded September 12-25. Of these, 2,531 respondents who are planning to travel between Thanksgiving and mid-January qualified as holiday travelers.

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