Will rising airfare prices and inflation keep American travelers grounded this summer? Or will travelers keep their eyes on the prize—for many, their bucket-list trips—no matter the cost?
We asked more than 1,800 U.S.-based TripIt users about their upcoming travel plans, and while rising costs and COVID-19 concern them, more than 95% of survey respondents still plan to travel in the year ahead. And some are willing to spend (tens of) thousands more to do so.
Nearly half of American travelers planning once-in-a-lifetime trips
According to our survey data, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents plan to travel as much—or more—in the next year versus before COVID-19. Just over a third (36%) plan to travel less.
What do their travel plans entail? Our data shows two-thirds (66%) are planning to travel for a summer vacation; 64% plan to visit family or friends; 47% are planning a fall vacation; 45% are traveling for business; 31% are planning a winter vacation; 22% are planning a bleisure trip; 19% are planning to travel solo; and 14% are planning a camping trip.
For almost half (41%) of American travelers, one of their trips in the year ahead will check the box on a bucket-list trip. One-third (33%) of respondents planning to travel solo said their trip would also be a bucket-list trip. In addition, 29% said their fall vacation (we see you, shoulder-season travelers!) would be a bucket-list trip; 27% said their summer vacation would be one.
So, what about the cost of those trips? Of those planning a bucket-list trip, the majority (62%) said their bucket-list trips will be more expensive than a normal trip—for most (47%) in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 more.
Travelers to cut back on dining to free up budget for trips
Do all upcoming trips (bucket-list or otherwise) mean spending more money? For nearly a third (32%) of respondents, the answer is yes. Our data shows more than a quarter (26%) of those who will be spending more will spend an additional $3,000 to $5,000 on travel this year. Ten percent said they’d spend more than $10,000 extra.
Americans spending more money than usual on travel attributed it to:
- Rising airfare prices (51%)
- Overall inflation (49%)
- Rising gas prices (34%)
- Planning more extravagant trips (34%)
For many, planning a trip means prioritizing their income accordingly. Almost a third (29%) of respondents have adjusted or plan to adjust their overall spending to accommodate the cost of travel. Our data also shows that 81% of respondents cutting (or planning to cut) their budget will reduce spending on eating out, 64% will cut back on events or concerts, and 58% will reduce spending on clothing to afford travel.
As for those who say their planned budgets will be less than usual (just 15% of respondents), 79% said it’s because they have fewer trips planned, 19% are planning less extravagant trips, and 18% are planning to visit more budget-friendly destinations.
And while some plan to spend the same, if costs do continue to rise, 38% will plan to travel less in order to not overextend their budget.
Did you know? When you add your flights to TripIt, TripIt Pro’s Fare Tracker feature will notify you if you’re eligible for a refund or credit if your airfare price drops after you book.
Rising COVID-19 cases could impact summer travel plans
In addition to costs, some Americans continue to be concerned about the other complexities of traveling right now.
Top concerns include:
- A trip might need to be canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19 restrictions, requirements, or illness (41%)
- Flight cancellations or delays (41%)
- Costs (33%)
- Staying up to date on travel restrictions and guidelines (26%)
- COVID-19 testing for travel (21%)
Those concerns are valid for many Americans who plan to travel soon. For starters, ongoing staffing shortages at global airports (and airlines, for that matter) are making an already busy travel season even more hectic and unpredictable.
Tip: Looking for a way to expedite the airport experience? Be sure to check out TripIt Pro’s four-month free trial and discounted membership to CLEAR—another way being a Pro member saves you money.
On the COVID-19 front, while just 8% of those who traveled in the past six months tested (or traveled with someone who tested) positive for COVID-19 during a trip, that’s up 300% (from just 2%) according to survey data we released in March.
Indeed, travelers are all too familiar with this reality: respondents said that they’d change or cancel their travel plans if they tested positive for COVID-19 (75%), were in contact with someone who tested positive (33%), or COVID-19 cases at their destination rose (30%). To put this in perspective, 31% will plan to cancel their current trips if costs continue to rise.
If this trend continues, cost concerns could be on their way to outpacing COVID-19 concerns. But for now, realizing bucket-list trip dreams and/or 2022 vacation plans means adjusting for increased costs and COVID-19 requirements (and risks) alike.
Methodology: TripIt surveyed more than 1,800 U.S.-based users to understand their upcoming travel plans, plus their attitudes and behaviors with respect to rising costs. The survey took place May 24 - June 1, 2022.