The Impact of Inflation, Gas Prices & Other Economic Factors on Travel
Many Americans seem to feel economic headwinds are inevitable. Right now, 59.0% of American travelers believe it is likely an economic recession will begin in the U.S. this year. Just 27.8% believe inflation will weaken this year and just 24.2% believe the U.S. will experience strong economic growth.
Inflation in consumer prices has led 23.2% of American travelers to cancel an upcoming trip, while 38.3% of American travelers agree that high prices have kept them from traveling in the past month.
If gasoline prices don’t come down, 58.0% of American travelers predict they will be taking fewer road trips this Spring and Summer, and 60.4% predict they will be staying closer to home on their road trips.
Fewer American travelers are now saying that luxury travel experiences are important to their leisure trips (35.6% down from 40.0% last month). While the average reported leisure travel budget for the next 12 months is at $3,857, this is still down from February, when it was at $4,283.
Americans feeling that the present is a good time to spend on travel is at 31.8%, a 10-point decline since the start of the year.
Nevertheless, Americans are still prioritizing their leisure travel. Nearly 90% have trips planned—3.0 on average. And despite the economic concerns, 60.6% continue to say their leisure travel is a high priority in their budget for the next 3 months. Americans recorded another record level of excitement about their leisure travel, as well. Over 80% did some trip dreaming and planning just in the last week alone.
While down slightly from the start of the year, many Americans also continue to feel optimistic about their financial future. 42.4% believe they will be better off financially next year compared to now.
Expectations for the Pandemic
More than half of American travelers—and over 60% of those Millennial or Gen Z age—feel largely that there is normalcy, a 20+ point climb from the start of the year.
Now only one-third of American travelers feel COVID will have a meaningful impact on their travel experiences, and fewer than one-in-five recent travelers felt pandemic anxiety on their last trip.
Interestingly, after more than two years of COVID-19, American travelers do reveal a wariness about the pandemic’s future. Over 45% of American travelers feel it’s likely that a dangerous new variant of COVID-19 will emerge in the U.S. in the remainder of this year. In addition, those that feel the pandemic situation will get worse in the next month has more than doubled over the last several weeks—to 21.5% from 8.7%. However, this wariness has not currently impacted their excitement for travel nor their confidence in their ability to travel safely.
The State of Business Travel
Nearly two-thirds of of American travelers feel it’s likely companies will require more employees to return to the office in the remainder of the year. However, only 36.5% of American travelers expect that business travel will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, as 64.7% believe that virtual meetings will continue to replace many in-person meetings.
Business travelers are certainly on the road, though. Over half of business travelers will take a business trip in the next 3 months—1.3 of these trips on average.
Source: Destination Analysts Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment-Week of May 2nd, 2022