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Economy and gas prices won’t keep vacationers close to home this summer

With summer just around the corner, millions of Americans are poised to take their cherished summer vacation. And according to the Yahoo!  Summer Travel survey, the “staycation” could be a thing of the past: Respondents say they're not going to let an anemic economy or the price of gas keep them from hitting the road.  And if they could splurge on anything, it wouldn’t be shopping or fancy restaurants – it would seeing more attractions.

The report, which questioned online consumers ages 18 to 64, found that nearly half of  them (49%) plan to take a summer vacation, and more than half of those (53%) plan on taking to the open road, exploring the nation's highways and byways by car.

And even though gas prices have soared this past year, most respondents (58%) say high fuel costs won't affect how far they’ll drive.

The Automobile Association of America, with more than 53 million members, is seeing the same trends uncovered by Yahoo!

"Many Americans consider travel a mainstay to our way of life and are loyal vacationers,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “While some Americans may modify their travel due to rising fuel costs, those who can are still choosing to travel.”

The Yahoo! survey indicated most vacationers (43%) will spend about the same amount that they did last year on their summer trip, while about 28% will have a bit more money to spend this year.

How will travelers make up for the extra expense of gasoline and other rising vacation costs? Many will save money by doing less shopping (42%), or cutting down on restaurant meals (20%) or hotel (18%) expenses.  If times weren’t tight and they had more money to spend this year, they’d plan more activities (40%) or upgrade their hotels (20%).

The Yahoo! survey found that about 7 out of 10 people (69%) are choosing to vacation in the United States. Of those, most will be roaming far and wide:  only 13% will remain in their home state. 

The hot spots, according to AAA, will be Orlando, Anaheim and Honolulu, destinations that have been popular with American families for generations. Also high on the list is Las Vegas, which is getting on board the trend this season with a new slogan: "They're your vacation days - you earned them. Take back your summer today."

A little less than half of this summer’s vacationers (48%) will fly to their destination, with those between 18 and 34 most likely to take to the air (56%). Of those who fly, 18% plan to go abroad.  The most popular destinations will be London, home of the upcoming Olympics, and Rome, according to AAA.

One-quarter of those surveyed said they won’t be taking a vacation this summer at all, and money is the main reason (42%).

Another 26% said they haven’t decided yet – and if gas prices tick upward again, some of those who are now undecided may opt to stay home.

David Patton, vice president of American Express Travel, says there's a breaking point on gas.   "Almost 140 million Americans are planning to take a summer vacation this year, but consumers are watching the fluctuating gas prices. Many won't let it interfere with their vacations unless gas prices hit $5 per gallon."

About the Survey:  The Yahoo! summer travel survey of consumers was conducted in March 2012. We interviewed 1,000 Americans ages 18 to 64 representative of the U.S. online population via an online quantitative survey.


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