Fuel Costs Not Deterring Vacationers

According to Trip Advisor, 86% of travelers are planning leisure trips this summer, up from 83% that said they traveled last summer. While most Americans appear committed to taking vacations this summer, though 39% said the rising cost of fuel is affecting their summer travel plans. 18% of respondents expect to take fewer trips by car, 12% intend to take shorter driving trips, and 5% are not planning to travel at all this summer, as a result of rising fuel prices.

U.S. travelers expect gas prices to continue to rise throughout the summer.

  • 76% expect gas prices to hit at least $4.50 per gallon for regular fuel
  • 26% predict prices at the pump will reach $5.00 per gallon
  • 13% foresee prices exceeding $5.00 per gallon
  • 18% said they will bypass car trips if gas prices reach $5.00 per gallon
  • 20% said they will avoid road trips if costs exceed $5.00 per gallon

As a result of the rising gas prices, 24% of travelers said the maximum distance they are willing to drive for a leisure trip this summer is 200 miles. However, if it meant significant savings on airfare costs, 21% would be willing to spend ten hours or more driving to a destination this summer.

26% of travelers surveyed said they will spend more on leisure travel this summer than last, while 42% expect to spend the same amount. Of those traveling this summer, 63% said they will drive and 62% expect to fly. Sixty-six% said they will check into hotels this summer, 28% will stay with family or friends, and 18% will stay at vacation rental homes.

33% of travelers surveyed plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend. 21% of respondents will drive to their Memorial Day weekend destinations. Of those respondents driving, 71% will travel more than 100 miles, and 23% will drive more than 300 miles. 29% said rising fuel prices have affected their Memorial Day travel plans. 15% said they are not planning to travel as a result, and 7% will take a shorter trip by car.

Memorial Day Travel Transportation Plans (% of Respondents by Year)




Driving for Memorial Day weekend



Flying for Memorial Day weekend



Source: Trip Advisor, May 2011

Relative to destination plans:

  • 50% of those traveling said they will take a city leisure trip.
  • 40% noted they will stay at an ocean location,
  • 18% will visit a national park, and
  • 16% will travel to a lake.
  • New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. are the three most popular U.S. spots this summer

This summer hiking is the most popular activity, as 33% of travelers are planning it this summer, followed by:

  • Water sports (22%).
  • Biking and cycling (22%) plan bike compared to 17% last summer.
  • Camping is up slightly (12%) compared to 10% one year ago.

Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor, notes that "...time and time again we see that U.S. travelers are undeterred by outside influences when it comes to summer travel... "

And, according to results from a USA Today/Gallup poll recently conducted, more than 6 in 10 Americans say taking a vacation away from where they live this year is important, although most anticipate they will have to spend more on transportation costs than they did last summer.

Travel Plans This Summer vs. Last


% of Respondents

Response Date

Travel More

The Same


Don't Travel Much

April 30/May1, 2011





May 18, 2010





Source: USA Today/Gallup, May 2011

For many people, vacations are an opportunity to get away from work, which helps explain why Americans 65 years of age and older give much lower importance ratings to vacations away from home than do those younger than 65.

Importance of Vacation This Year

Age Group

% Say Very/Somewhat Important









Source: USA Today/Gallup, May 2011

71% of Americans who will be traveling this summer predict they will spend more on transportation. This compares with only 39% who said they would spend more on transportation last May, when the average price of gas in the U.S. was about $2.80 per gallon. Apparently, higher gas prices and airfares will not stand in the way of many Americans' vacation plans this summer.

Anticipated Spending Change for Transportation This Summer vs. Last

Response Date

Spend More

About the Same

Spend Less

2011 April 30/May1




2010 May 18




Source: USA Today/Gallup, May 2011

For additional information from Trip Advisor, please visit here, and from Gallup, please go here.


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