4 in 10 Americans Plan Holiday Travel

October 26, 2010

Among the 39% of Americans who plan to travel this holiday season, almost one-third (30%) say they expect to spend more than last year, according to the October 2010 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

Average Traveler to Spend $460
On average, travelers plan to spend $460 per person with that figure jumping to $500 per person among young professionals and $560 among affluents. While most travelers will schedule their trips for Thanksgiving (19%) and Christmas (19%), one-tenth (10%) will take an off-peak trip before the end of the year and 6% will travel to ring in the New Year.

In addition, the vast majority of travelers (88%) will stay within the U.S. Seventy-four percent will drive and 28% will fly.

Longer Trip Top Reason to Spend More
Leading reasons to spend more on holiday travel this year than last year include:

  • Taking a longer trip (23%).
  • Dining out (20%).
  • Activities and entertainment (20%).
  • Traveling with more people (19%).
  • Staying in better accommodations (16%).
  • Going to a more expensive destination (15%).
  • Flying first or business class (8%).


Most Will Try to Cut Costs
The majority of holiday travelers (77%) still plan to cut costs. Leading ways to reduce the expense of holiday travel include:

  • Staying with family or friends (50%).
  • Driving instead of flying (28%).
  • Traveling during off-peak dates (13%).
  • Using loyalty/reward points (11%.
  • Waiting for last-minute deals (8%).

Young Professionals, Affluents More Travel Prone
Young professionals are almost twice as likely as the general population to travel between now and the end of the year (72% compared to 39% for the general population,) and are also more likely to travel than affluents (55%). Many plan to ring in the New Year away from home, with 22% planning a New Year’s trip, compared to just 6% of the general population and 10% of affluents. Affluents are most likely to take an off-peak trip before the end of the year (17%) compared to the general population (10%) or young professionals (9%). Of these trips, 14% will be to international destinations.

Money Key Obstacle For Non-travelers
The 61% of people without end-of-year travel plans cited a variety of reasons why they will stay put, including:

  • Not having money for travel (30%).
  • Family/friends are traveling to them instead (11%).
  • Plan to use money saved for travel on other things, such as holiday gifts, local activities, and necessities (12%).
  • Feeling travel around the holidays is too hectic or stressful (9%).

Americans Planned Summer Vacations
Summer travel was a priority for the majority of Americans despite the economic downturn, according to the May 2010 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. As of May 2010, more than half (51%) of the general US population was planning a vacation for the summer. Affluents (73%) and young professionals (83%) were even more likely to take a vacation. Those surveyed planned to spend an average of $1,000 per person on summer travel, indicating that the average family of four expected to spend about $4,000 on their summer vacation. That figure jumped to around $4,800 among young professionals and nearly $6,400 among affluents.

About the Data: The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18+. The research sample of 2,005 adults surveyed the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups – the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between October 4 and October 8, 2010.


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