The results of Harvest Hosts’ latest survey show travelers are staying closer to home, turning to road trips for vacation and traveling with one eye on inflation and the other on price-conscious spending.
However, millennial travelers saved up during the pandemic and are still willing to splash out for upgraded travel.
Inflation, rising gas prices and macroeconomic unease, are leading Americans to reassess the trip planning process and many are scaling back, Harvest Host said.
“The travel industry is bracing for a chaotic summer season, with rising costs upending plans,” said Joel Holland, CEO of Harvest Hosts. “Road travel continues to peak travelers’ interest despite the rising cost of fuel. We are seeing more travelers opt for shorter trips closer to home, planning quick getaways to nearby destinations. There is so much to explore on the local level and a whole new era of RVing is opening up as the industry shatters its records year after year.”
Responding to the lure of the open road
Road trips spiked the past two years. Heading into this summer, the open road is still calling, and the next generation of road travelers are preparing to live out their Jack Kerouac fantasies, Harvest Host said.
Twenty-three percent of travelers went RVing for the first time since 2020, while nearly half of travelers (48%) have considered taking an RV trip in the last two years.
Most travelers (78%) do not currently own an RV, but 28% of those that do not are considering buying one and 33% are considering renting an RV for upcoming vacations.
Nearly 60% of those surveyed have fantasized about living on the road and nearly two-thirds of Millennials (65%) and Gen Z (63%) surveyed said they are dreaming of the van life.
Factoring in Rising Gas Prices and Inflation
Travel-related costs are on the rise – impacting road and air travel plans alike, Harvest Host said. Many surveyed said they were looking forward to long-awaited post-pandemic vacations this summer, but as costs creep up, many are changing their original plans rather than pay the full price of their trip.
Overall, around half of Americans (53%) say the price of gas will limit their upcoming travel plans, whether traveling by road or air. In fact, 22% of travelers have taken steps to shorten their trips to decrease costs.
Differing from the other generations, around half of millennials (53%) say the price of gas will not limit their upcoming travel plans – and they are willing to spend more to see their plans through.
The youngest and oldest generations are the most price-conscious– Gen Z (59%) and baby boomers (57%) say the price of gas will limit their upcoming travel plans. The impact of inflation is already being felt, with half of travelers (51%) planning and padding their travel budgets to accommodate for the anticipated higher costs.
Cost-Conscious Travelers Make Plans for ‘Near-cations’
Over the past two years, Americans discovered hidden gems in their own backyards when traditional travel was restricted, Harvest Host said.
Now, cost-conscious travelers are revisiting the “near-cation” concept to make the most of their time off without breaking the bank, Harvest Host said.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) are planning to take local, regional trips, visiting nearby cities and towns.
Of those surveyed, 51% of travelers plan to book camping spots. Most are foregoing international trips, with only 19% planning to leave the country.
The generational divide is visible in the comfort level for international travel. On one end, nearly one-third of Gen Zers (30%) are planning international trips while only 9% of Gen Xers and 8% of boomers are planning to go abroad, Harvest Host said.
Most travelers (78%) are planning trips that will last 1 week or less. One quarter (26%) of those surveyed plan one- to three-day excursions.
Top destinations include the beach (64%), cities (47%) and national/state parks (43%).
Inflated Budgets are not Inflation-Proof
Many travelers are facing the realities of rising costs when planning their upcoming trips, Harvest Host said.
Americans are increasing their travel budgets this year, with half of those surveyed either slightly or significantly increasing their allotted travel spend.
In 2021, one quarter of travelers (24%) budgeted less than $500 for trips. This year, 20% of those surveyed are budgeting $1,000 to $2,000, doubling their travel budgets.
Boomers are the most likely of all the generations to keep a consistent travel budget, with 35% budgeting about the same for travel over the last five years.
To scale back, nearly two-thirds (63%) say they are not seeking luxury travel options. However, 45% of millennials are still willing to spend extra for luxury travel with more than half (61%) citing savings from lack of travel during the pandemic as the reason.