Americans still want vacations, but will we take them?

Two in three Americans plan to take an overnight trip by car this summer, and half plan to take a domestic plane trip this summer, according to the Ipsos Consumer Tracker. But our data from past years shows people may not follow through with it.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab
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The Ipsos Consumer Tracker asks Americans questions about culture, the economy and the forces that shape our lives. Here's one thing we learned this week.

Chart showing that a two in three Americans plan to go on a vacation this summer

Why we asked about travel: Summer vacation is here for the college kids and impending for the K-12 set. Memorial Day is right around the corner.  

What we found: For the most part, if we look at this data vs. when we asked previously at this time of year, we see relatively consistent and high levels of desire to take various vacations. Two in three plan to take a short-distance overnight trip, or see a movie. Slightly more (71%) plan a longer road trip (100+ miles). Half plan a domestic plane trip, a third say they will fly internationally. More than half want to go to a concert or sporting event (more on that later). And almost everyone (93%) plans to dine out. Our desire to “get away from it all” and “unplug” also remains high at 69%.

There is, however a “But...” and this is a big “but,” I cannot lie. People don’t always do what they say, which hopefully will not surprise any of you. See, last year we did something clever. We asked this question again in mid-July. And saw a pretty big fall-off.

The two-in-three who said they’d take a short road trip or a longer road trip dropped to just half. The half who said they would fly domestically fell off to 37%. And a third of those who said they would fly internationally don’t seem to have knocked “see Machu Picchu” or wherever off the bucket list after all, as that fell from 29% to 20%. So, do you have your plans set? Or will your dream vacation remain a dream? Which might also have something to do with…

Concerts and sports as hard to afford as a plane vacation?

Why we asked: We are always looking for new ways to dig into the cost-of-living impacts on people today. So we tried a new approach and scale looking at discretionary spending.

What we found: One reason people don’t take those vacations they’re dreaming of is because they procrastinate and didn’t plan them in time and everything was booked. (Oops. Cough, can’t imagine doing that, no…) But another reason is that costs for… everything just feel higher. One in four say they are either cutting back or delaying spending on vacations. An additional group say they just can’t afford the car (5%) or plane (10%) trip, period. We see similar numbers for attending a concert or sporting event, which these days can indeed cost as much as a vacation by plane. Which might be why four in five consider sporting events to be too expensive for most people to attend in a separate survey.

Notably, one in three also say they are cutting back on dining out.

Chart showing that three in ten Americans are cutting back on dining out

[SEE MORE IN IPSOS TOP TOPICS: “ECONOMY AND CONSUMER SPENDING”]

More insights from this wave of the Ipsos Consumer Tracker:

Here's what Americans cared most about this year

The Ipsos Care-o-Meter: What does America know about vs. what does America care about?

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab

Society