It appears that “revenge travel” has run its course, as just 11 percent of Americans at the end of 2023 said they were still making up for missed trips. That said, growing is Americans’ priority on travel. According to Deloitte’s “2024 Travel Outlook,” consumers are exhibiting a sustained interest in travel, with that interest shifting from a reactionary impulse to a redefined priority.
To that point, as Americans have increasingly put revenge travel behind them, overall travel intent has not shown a corresponding decline. Several signals, Deloitte says, support the likelihood of a sustained boost to travel demand. For one, Americans’ travel spending intentions have shown more resilience than other spend categories, such as retail or automotive. And, over both summer 2023 and the recent holiday season, budgets and intent to stay in hotels climbed when compared to 2022. Among those increasing their budgets, one in five say spending on travel has become more important to them since the pandemic. Even among Americans who stayed home or trimmed their budgets, many said they had bigger plans in 2024. Three in 10 Baby Boomers who cut their 2023 holiday travel budgets say they are saving up for future trips.
Enthusiasm for in-destination activities is growing, as well. Travelers planning to visit an attraction on their holiday trips jumped from 36 percent in 2022 to 43 percent in 2023. Americans also expanded their overseas destinations in 2023— first with very strong demand to visit Europe in the summer, followed by surges in interest in South America, Asia, and Africa. Many Americans’ trips appear oriented toward exploration and new experiences—not just relaxation and escape.
One reason why travel will likely continue to remain strong is remote work. “Laptop lugging,” allowing travelers to work on their leisure trips—or to extend them by working remotely—continues to grow in popularity. The percentage of people who said they intended to work during their longest trip of the holiday season jumped from 19 percent in 2022 to 34 percent in 2023. These “laptop luggers” additionally take more (47 percent) and longer trips (27 percent) and are more likely to look for local activities, visit attractions and take guided tours.
That all said, an economic downturn could lead to more conservative travel behaviors, particularly among lower-income groups. Should the economy hit “a significantly rougher patch,” Deloitte expects a negative impact on the number of Americans who travel, more who will decide to stay closer to home (shortening the length of stay), and younger and lower-income travelers choosing to visit friends or family instead of paid lodging.