Stats: Financial Concerns Are Affecting Americans’ Travel Plans

Americans seem to be split on their summer travel plans. While half plan to travel and stay in paid lodging, according to Deloitte’s “The Experience Economy Endures: 2023 Deloitte Summer Travel Survey,” released this week, many are tightening their budgets, if not staying home outright. Half of Americans who are not traveling say they won’t because they can’t afford to do so.

Continuing that dichotomy, more than half (51 percent) of leisure travelers plan to fly this summer, with 22 percent of flyers traveling internationally—up from 14 percent last year. On the flip side, the number of travelers willing to pay for a more comfortable flight experience, including first or business class or other upgrades, is down (39 percent in 2023 versus 54 percent in 2022).

Overall, the average spend for a marquee trip declined: Surveyed travelers expect to spend $2,930 this year, compared to $3,320 in 2022 and $3,440 in 2021 on their longest summer trip. Reasons for this could include travelers forgoing first/business class seats, in addition to slightly more travelers who are opting for limited-service hotels this year, compared to last summer (26 percent in 2023 versus 23 percent in 2022). In addition, booking intentions for more expensive destination resorts fell (15 percent in 2023 versus 19 percent in 2022).

Also potentially playing a part in average spend (on a marquee trip) decreasing could be that travelers are planning to take more but shorter trips than last year. Travelers say they are planning to take three (up from two in 2022) trips this summer. In addition, just 38 percent of travelers say their longest trip will last a week or more this summer, down from 68 percent in 2022.

Among those who plan to travel but spend less compared to 2022, 59 percent cite financial concerns. Among those who plan to spend more, 40 percent simply noted the increase in prices—not necessarily upgrades.

That said, 28 percent of American who plan to spend more on travel than in 2022, say they are making up for missed travel, while 32 percent say they’re taking a bucket list trip. In terms of where people are going, cities (37 percent) are ahead of beaches (34 percent) as the top destination for domestic flyers, followed by the great outdoors (10 percent). Significantly more Americans are venturing to Europe (57 percent, up eight percentage points from 2022), compared to closer international destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean (21 percent, down seven percentage points).

Woman working on laptop on patio in Europe with espresso
Many younger and affluent travelers are planning to take work on the road this summer. (Photo by Gulcin Ragiboglu/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

One interesting tidbit: While most travelers surveyed (64 percent) believe climate change is an emergency, climate change sentiment shows little impact on summer travel behavior, including the planned number of trips, distance and budgets.

Further, the health concerns that may have kept many from traveling during the pandemic have significantly diminished, cited by just 8 percent of non-travelers as reasons not to travel (compared to 33 percent in 2022). Along the same lines, the possibility of disruption in the form of delayed or canceled flights was cited by just 6 percent of non-travelers (a decline from 18 percent over the winter holidays). Instead, roughly 40 percent of Americans surveyed feel financially worse-off compared to a year ago.

A positive: As flexible work arrangements continue, one in five travelers (19 percent) plan to work during their longest trip. These “laptop luggers” plan to take more trips—albeit shorter ones—during the summer months. This style of travel is more prevalent among younger and wealthier travelers: Half of 18- to 34-year-olds plan to work on vacation, as do 39 percent of those reporting income of more than $100,000 per year.

This group of travelers is planning to take 3.8 trips this summer, compared to 2.9 trips by "disconnectors" (travelers not working on their marquee summer trip); however, their marquee trip is shorter: One in five plan to travel for up to three nights, and 44 percent plan to travel for four to six nights.

Methodology: The report is based on a survey of 3,583 Americans fielded March 31 to April 6, 2023. Among those, 2,262 qualified as travelers, and a smaller subset of 1,957 travelers who said they would stay in paid lodging, rather than only with family or friends, completed the longest version of the survey.

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