Deloitte survey: Despite pricing concerns, summer travel intent high among Americans

Despite pricing pressures, an increasing number of Americans are making room in budgets for travel, a recent study said. Rising costs, however, are likely to affect how and when Americans will travel and the duration of their vacation.

According to The Experience Economy Endures: 2023 Deloitte Summer Travel Survey, half of the Americans said they would take a leisure vacation this summer, up from 46% in 2022. Travelers seem to be taking more international flights and adding an average of one trip to their calendars. However, about half of non-travelers said they would stay home due to financial concerns.

Revenge travel still continues to drive travel intent, with one in five travelers planning their marquee summer trip to make up for missed travel opportunities during the pandemic. Travelers will take 61% of their marquee trips by July, but roads and skies are likely to be busy all season as 48% of all summer travel is slated for August or September. 

“Despite rising travel prices, some Americans seem to be making room in their budgets — and suitcases — to discover new places, visit with family and friends, and simply relax away from home. With travel sentiment higher than it’s been in years, air travel continues to soar, driven by the excitement of international travel,” said Mike Daher, vice chair, Deloitte LLP and U.S. transportation, hospitality and services non-attest leader. “However, with travelers planning more trips this summer, they’re being cost conscious and making those marquee trips less extensive. This could signal a call to travel providers to pack both quality and value into their offerings.” 

Travelers expect to spend $2,930 this year on their longest summer trip, down from $3,320 in 2022, led by a growing volume of travelers, total spending across more trips and financial concerns.  

Approximately 3 in 10 of those who will spend more than in 2022 said they were making up for missed travel (28%) or taking a bucket-list trip (32%).

About 73% of travelers said they plan to only stay in hotels during their longest summer trip, against 13% who plan to stay in private rentals. About 51% will stay in full-service hotels, though interest in limited-service hotels has risen since summer 2022 (26% in 2023 compared to 23% in 2022). Booking intentions for more expensive destination resorts dropped 15% this year compared to 19% in 2022.  

As flexible work arrangements continue, 19% of summer travelers plan to work, at least partially, on their longest trip. Laptop luggers also plan to go on more trips, although shorter ones, in the summer months. They plan to take 3.8 trips compared to 2.9 trips nu disconnectors (travelers not working on their summer trip). However, their marquee trip is shorter — one in five plan to travel for up to three nights and 44% plan to travel for four to six nights.  

Laptop luggers said 56% of their summer trips were possible because of flexibility at the workplace. Four in five travelers were able to extend their marquee trip — half are adding one to two travel days and another quarter are adding three to six days.  

“While financial concerns will keep some close to home over the summer months, others will take advantage of flexible work arrangements to travel more frequently. Laptop luggers continue to be an integral component of the upcoming travel season — not just for those who plan to combine business and pleasure, but also for those who plan to disconnect on their vacations,” said Eileen Crowley, vice chair, Deloitte & Touche LLP and U.S. transportation, hospitality and services attest leader.  

Cities (73%) emerged as more popular than beaches (34%) as the top destination for domestic travelers, followed by the great outdoors (10%).  

Despite 64% of the surveyed travelers stating that climate change was an emergency, climate change sentiment showed little impact on summer travel behavior, including the planned number of trips, budgets and distance.