ASTA: Americans Plan to Spend Even More on Travel

From new consumer research released by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the society has found that Americans are already spending far more on travel than other large discretionary purchases this year.

In fact, a majority of Millennials and Gen Z respondents are planning to increase their travel spend even more in the coming months. Research also found half of Americans are more likely to use a travel advisor than they were in the past.

According to the survey, 47 percent of respondents ranked a vacation as their top discretionary spend—twice as many as the second choice, a home improvement or renovation (23 percent) with a new computer listed third (10 percent). That gap between vacations and the second choice is consistent across all generations.

The number of Americans who intend to spend more on travel has increased 17 percent since late 2022. That intent is highest among the Millennial and Gen Z demographics. Those younger generations are 22 percent more likely than the average American to spend more on travel this year. As well, more than just intent, 63 percent of respondents have concrete travel plans between now and 2023 and 39 percent have spent more on travel so far this year. The number of average actual business trips (among self-identified business travelers) skyrocketed by 54 percent in the last six months while leisure travel trips saw a 14 percent increase.

Travel Advisors Cut Through the “Complexity” of Modern Travel

A large majority of Americans (68 percent) agree that “planning a trip is more complex now.” From travel advisories and various restrictions to airline fees and delays/cancelations, consumers want to travel but find it increasingly confusing. Travel advisors are seen as the key to cutting through that complexity: Fifty percent of people are more likely to use a travel advisor today than they were in the past—a 14 percent increase year over year.

The study also showed an 8 percent increase (49 percent overall) in agreeing with the statements, “in today’s environment, the expertise of a travel advisor will put me more at ease about my travel plans,” and “utilizing a travel advisor to plan my dream vacation is a great way to find the best value for my travel investment.”

Fifty-four percent specifically agree that “a travel advisor can cut through some of the issues regarding airline fees.”

Cruising and International Travel Outpace the Field

When asked what types of vacations respondents were planning, the number of Americans planning a cruise has jumped 40 percent since last year’s survey. Meanwhile, 30 percent of Americans have some type of international travel plans in 2023 with Millennials and Gen Z travelers being the most eager to travel abroad in the short-term. When asked about traveling internationally in 2024, that number jumps to 42 percent.

Outside of the continental United States, Hawaii (65 percent), Italy (53 percent), the Caribbean (52 percent), Alaska (51 percent) and Australia (51 percent) generated the greatest excitement among travelers. That said, Western Europe is the region of the world that respondents are most likely to visit next (25 percent). London, Paris and Rome were the first-choice cities for a European vacation. Domestically, Las Vegas, Orlando, Nashville and San Diego led the way.

Other notable findings:

  • 62 percent strongly agree that “There’s no social media substitute for going out and seeing the world”
  • 78 percent agree that “Now, more than ever, a vacation would do wonders for my mental health
  • 64 percent agree that “Traveling is the best quality time I can spend with my family”
  • 60 percent of Millennial and Gen Z respondents have a (formal or informal) “bucket list” of places they’d like to travel to in their lifetimes

Source: ASTA 

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