After a devastating pandemic kept people in their homes for over a year, wanderlust is at an all-time high and more Americans are starting to get back out there.
In fact, 92% of Americans will travel, or already have, in 2021, with more than half (52%) going as soon as this summer, according to the Priceline Work-Life Balance report.
With that in mind, Priceline looked at how travel has changed and what trends are emerging for the summer peak travel season.
Escapism is top of mind. When it comes to air travel, hotel stays and car rentals, Americans are prioritizing warm, tropical and entertainment-focused destinations, such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, Mexico and Orlando. Florida, in particular, is a traveler favorite right now. The Sunshine State dominates the top 10 destinations across all three categories with at least four cities on each list.
Local exploration matters more than ever. When the pandemic took hold, flights came to an almost screeching halt. According to round-trip flight bookings on Priceline, travelers flew 4 billion miles less in 2020 than they did in 2019. Not only did people fly less often, but they also did not travel as far: The average distance dropped by 20% in 2020 (1,307 miles), compared with the same period in 2019 (1,654 miles). Instead, Americans are opting to explore locally, with 70% of car rentals used for road trips within their own state and driving an average of 184 miles. Likewise, today's travelers are booking hotel stays within their own states 10% more than prior years.
Wallet-friendly stays abound in the South and West. Travel deals are more important than ever. This year, the average hotel stay costs under $125 a night in Las Vegas; the Black Hills, South Dakota; Denver and Orlando, which means you can enjoy a great getaway without blowing your budget.
Package deals enable workcations. The blurring of work-life boundaries gave rise to the “bleisure” trip or workcation, a hybrid of business and leisure travel. As flexible work schedules become a long-term possibility for many, these extended leisure-first trips, which incorporate remote work as part of the experience, will continue to drive booking preferences. Because of this, Priceline is seeing increased interest in bundled or package trips, which are conveniently booked together and offer savings.
As domestic tourism ramps up, expect to see continued preference for beach getaways and entertainment, alongside an ongoing appreciation for the local surroundings and an increased willingness to blend vacations with work.