Americans Are Still Going On Vacation Despite Soaring Pump Prices

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Even though gas prices are very expensive, a large number of people are still planning on traveling for vacation this summer.

59 percent of Americans plan to travel to their selected destination despite increasing gasoline prices

Pain at the pump continues as gas prices increased for the fourth straight week, inching ever-closer to the $4.00 per gallon mark. The national average price of regular grade gasoline was $3.85 Friday, up 3 cents from a week ago, 30 cents higher than month ago prices and 99 cents higher than year ago prices, yet remain 26 cents below the all-time high of $4.11 a gallon set three summers ago.

Memorial Day weekend is just ahead, and speculation is that rising gasoline prices will have a huge impact on the average American’s vacation plans this year. Soaring gas prices could very well alter many Americans plans for the summer travel. We don’t need to look too far into the past, just to 2008, to compare the high cost of gas and this effect on American’s vacation plans. For those who have planned ahead and booked early, these prices will not affect their decisions as they are already made. However, if gas prices continue to soar, the vacation plans of many Americans, especially families could cause them to modify or even cancel their plans. Many will undoubtedly reconsider travel to distant places. Or will the pent up demand for having the special vacation overrule the current prices? According to the latest American Express Spending & Savings Tracker Poll, 59 percent of Americans plan to travel to their selected destination despite increasing gasoline prices. Americans plan to take an average of two weeks for their vacation and spend an average of $1,200 per person. Weekend travelers will spend about $300 per weekend for their getaway travel.

Family vacations are especially popular with those planning trips. Nearly 70 percent of those polled concerning their travel plans say that they will travel with their family. Nearly sixty-four percent will take one or more week trips, with some taking more than two trips this summer lasting a week or more.

The latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker explores consumers’ spending and saving behavior as it relates to summer travel. The research sample of 2,025 adults included the general U.S. population, as well as two subgroups – the affluent, and young professionals.

Americans with travel plans prefer quick getaways this summer to week long vacations. Girlfriend getaways and ‘man-cations’ are on the rise. More than 40 percent of consumers said that getting a good deal on hotels, rental cars, flights, etc. is the most important factor in planning where they go for weekend getaways. Many also cited that they choose destinations based on where friends, family or significant others have decided to visit, choice of many diverse things to do, and accessibility to a beach. Visiting a beach or lake is the top activity for Americans during a weekend getaway. Other activities include shopping, attending family or school reunions, partaking in educational activities, visiting water parks, and camping.

Many consumers are planning to stay within the U.S. when traveling this summer, with southern U.S. states topping the list. For those traveling outside of the U.S., the Bahamas and Canada are tied as the top destinations.

To make summer vacations more affordable this year, consumers are willing to sacrifice to save. More than eight in 10 note specific strategies to reduce vacation costs as they prepare for their summer getaways. These include driving instead of flying and choosing less expensive destinations including destinations that are closer to home.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans with travel plans will make everyday trade-offs to afford their summer vacations such as spending less on: dining out, clothing purchases, home improvements, entertaining, spas or salon expenses, and even consumer purchases. Bottom line: Americans work hard and they need their vacations—and are willing to sacrifice in other areas to have them.

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Tad Hunter