Spring Travel Down in 2024 Compared to Past Years: Stats

New survey data released by Vacasa, a vacation rental home management platform, shows that 55 percent of Americans are planning to take a vacation this spring—the lowest recorded in the past two years (65 percent in 2023 and 56 percent in 2022). Among this group, one-third are traveling for spring break (35 percent), down from 41 percent in 2023.

Given this change in how consumers are traveling, it raises several questions: How has inflation affected the travel industry and Americans’ travel habits? Does the increase in long weekend travel signal a changing trend in the age of inflation? What does this mean for the rest of 2024?

But, first, a look at some of the data.

Americans, according to Vacasa, will be taking fewer trips this spring compared to 2023, with weekend getaways being the most popular (87 percent). To that point, stateside vacations are the most popular (85 percent), trending up from 2023 (76 percent). Of these, 25 percent are “staycationing” in their area; this is especially popular with those who identify as budget-conscious travelers (33 percent of them are “staycationing”). Along those lines, nearly three-quarters of travelers are driving to their spring destination (71 percent), while 48 percent plan on flying.

As to where Americans are traveling, waterfront destinations are tops this spring, seeing an increase from 2023 (58 percent versus 48 percent). Other destinations include urban/city destinations (31 percent), leisure destinations (29 percent) and attraction-based destinations (27 percent). Interestingly, roughly one in 10 travelers are going to a “dupe destination” (12 percent) with budget-conscious travelers more likely to do so (15 percent). In addition, set-jetting, or movie/TV-inspired travel, will be popular with 19 percent of Gen Z and Millennial travelers.

Why are they traveling? Spring travel activities most often include family-related events (36 percent), outdoor recreation (32 percent), friends-related events (26 percent), festivals/concerts (21 percent) and exploring national parks (21 percent). On top of that, 35 percent of spring travelers will be traveling for Spring Break with Gen Z (58 percent) and Millennials (48 percent) the most likely travelers. For those not traveling for Spring Break, the top reason is wanting to avoid crowds (44 percent).

Pretty interesting: About one in 10 people are traveling for the 2024 total solar eclipse on April 8. Similarly, roughly one-third of travelers are prioritizing a vacation that helps them unplug and disconnect (31 percent) or feel inspired/fulfilled (28 percent).

As noted, spring travelers are, more than anything, prioritizing going somewhere within their budget (45 percent), slightly more so than winter 2023 travelers (43 percent). A vast majority (84 percent) of spring travelers have shifted their plans or planning behavior to be more budget-conscious. One-quarter say they’re on the lookout for special promotions and deals. That said, six in 10 budget-conscious travelers (59 percent) say they’re traveling more often this spring than they did last spring

What types of lodging are travelers opting for? One-third (36 percent) of travelers will be staying in a vacation rental (e.g. Airbnb, Vrbo, Vacasa, etc.) this season, up from 31 percent last spring. More than half (58 percent) of these individuals are choosing to stay at a vacation rental over other accommodation options because it provides the best value for their money, gives access to private amenities (50 percent), and provides more living space during their group’s stay (45 percent).

For the 45 percent of Americans not traveling in the spring, most cite budget-related barriers (57 percent)—whether it’s trying to save money (26 percent), inflation putting their travel plans on hold (20 percent) or not being in the financial position to take a vacation (35 percent). Twenty-two percent are planning to travel some other time in 2024, up from those who said so at this time last year (15 percent).

Source: Vacasa

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