Summer Travel Trends

U.S. Travelers Planning to Spend Almost 10% More Than Last Year

More Americans will find relief from the heat this summer, with 75% planning a summer getaway (steadily rising from 69% in 2013 and 59% in 2012).
Infographic Summer Travel Spending
U.S. Travelers planning to spend almost 10% more than last year

American Express

More Americans will find relief from the heat this summer, with 75% planning a summer getaway (steadily rising from 69% in 2013 and 59% in 2012). In addition, nearly half of travelers plotting a trip to cool off at a beach, river or lake, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. More travelers will stay closer to home, with 70% planning to explore the U.S. this summer (vs. 65% in 2013), while 17% plan a trip overseas (on par with 2013), and a lucky 13% of travelers plan to do both (vs. 15% in 2013). No matter their final destination, travelers will dig a little deeper in their wallets: consumers expect to pay $1,246 per person on average, up 9% from last year.

Infographic Summer Travel Spending

View/Download the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

"After a long and harsh winter, more Americans are pledging to hit the road this summer," said Claire Bennett, Executive Vice President at American Express Travel. "Travelers are doing their homework and taking more time to plan their trips, ensuring they get the best deal possible without sacrificing those little extras that make their trips special."

Have Vacation Days, Will Travel

With Americans receiving 14 vacation days per year on average, many plan to take advantage of the summer to utilize their time off for extended getaways: 69% are planning at least one full week trip this summer (vs. 66% in 2013) and a lucky 32% say they’ll get away for two weeks or longer (vs. 29% in 2013).

Weekend getaways have also become more popular as 67% report they’ll hit the road at least one weekend (vs. 59% on 2013), with the average summer traveler taking three weekend trips. Holiday weekend trips are more common with more than half of summer travelers (54% vs. 45% in 2013) planning to take advantage of holiday weekends to stretch their trips:

Holiday Weekend       2014       2013       2012
Fourth of July       41%       31%       30%
Labor Day       29%       23%       21%
Memorial Day       28%       24%       25%


Family First, and Don’t Forget Fido

Travelers are bringing along those who matter most for their summer trips, with most Americans planning a getaway with their immediate families (78% vs. 74% in 2013). “Friend-cations” are also up this year; 16% of travelers say they’ll hit the road with a group of friends (vs. 11% in 2013). Not wanting to leave their best friends behind, 51% of summer travelers say they’re likely to bring their pets along for the fun.

No matter who they’re with, summer travelers will embrace their sea creature, with two of the top five vacation activities revolving around fun in the water; the top five include:

1. Hitting beaches, rivers and lakes (45% vs. 44% in 2013)

2. Shopping (41% vs. 37% in 2013)

3. Visiting to museums or other cultural activities (32%, on par with 2013)

4. Attending family reunions (32% vs. 27% in 2013)

5. Visiting a water park (27% vs. 23% in 2013)

Reigning in the Budget by Trading off and Hunting Bargains

With spending 9% higher this year, more travelers say they’re looking for ways to reduce costs (91% vs. 88% in 2013) or make tradeoffs to afford their trips (60% vs. 57% in 2013), employing a variety of ways to stretch their budgets:

  • Drive instead of fly (44% vs. 39% in 2013)
  • Stay at a property with a kitchen to enable cooking in (30% vs. 23% in 2013)
  • Choose a less expensive destination (28% vs. 23% in 2013)
  • Travel outside peak periods (24% vs. 19% in 2013)
  • Shorten their trips (33%, on par with 2013)

Travelers are also planning early to help them save: most will plan trips at least a month in advance (64%, on par with 2013). On average, summer travelers expect to visit five websites and spend nearly six hours planning their trips.

For many, the time will be spent finding the best deal. A third (33%) of travelers plan to spend more time bargain hunting this year, up from 27% in 2013. Online tools continue to be the top resource for booking summer travel, with 63% turning to the internet to book their trips (vs. 56% in 2013). More than one in ten travelers will turn to the expertise of a travel agent, a figure that has risen almost 40% since 2012.

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,500 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as an Affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Ebiquity, formerly Echo Research, between April 7 –11, 2014. The results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 2.5 (total) and +/- 2.9 (for summer travelers) at the 95 percent level of confidence.

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