Get Out Of Here! Americans Still Traveling Despite Tanking Economy

Iryna Kalamurza /
Iryna Kalamurza /

There are a few things Americans can count on as the summer weather heats up, like barbecues, lazy days by the pool, baseball games, and rising gas prices.

This summer, gas prices are expected to reach an average of $3.69 a gallon. While these prices are much higher than 2021’s $3.06 a gallon, they are lower than 2022’s $5.00 fill-up prices.

Americans remain unperturbed by rising prices at the pumps. Over half of Americans have travel plans for the summer, and more than a quarter of them have plans to increase travel spending over the next three months.

87% of Americans plan to travel as much this year as they did in 2022, and nearly half of those who traveled last year plan to travel more this summer. Of those planning to travel more, nearly 60% are between 18 and 26.

Despite a tanking economy, banking crisis, soaring interest rates, and increases in travel prices, Americans are prioritizing travel this summer. While they still plan to hit the road, they will be compromising on luxury accommodations and destination spending.

46% of Americans are changing travel plans due to inflation, choosing to travel off-season and changing their destinations to save money. they are likely or very likely to change their plans due to inflation.

An estimated 29% of travelers are choosing less expensive hotels, and 28% plan to keep vacation activities more affordable and spend less on avoidable costs. They have been choosing affordable destinations, like Portugal and Morocco, over desirable high-end destinations.

Travelers are also shortening their vacations to a week or less, down 68% from this time in 2022. While the trips are shorter, Americans are planning on taking more of them throughout the summer months, with many American travelers expecting to take three or more trips from summer throughout the end of the year.

Despite ongoing issues with airlines, Expedia reports that the amount of people searching for flights throughout the summer months has increased by 25% compared to the summer of 2022, but remains 22% lower than in 2019.

The complications airlines face will be keeping many tourists on the road instead of in the air. Over half of Americans say they would travel by air if the experience wasn’t inconvenient and complicated. As for the airlines themselves, expectations remain high with an estimated 250 million passengers over the summer months. But this is only 1% higher than the same time in 2019, and many of these planes will be flying at only 11% capacity.

Operational challenges faced by airlines include air traffic controller shortages, aircraft delays, and understaffing. Currently, airlines are operating with only 80% of their full complement of air traffic controllers.

The results are, predictably, unhappy passengers. Over the past year, 35% of air travelers had cancellations and delays of their flights, and less than a third of travelers reported being satisfied with their experience.

For those planning to travel outside the U.S., passport wait times are at an all-time high with an average processing window of ten to thirteen weeks for regular service and nine to ten weeks for “expedited” services.

The top destination spots have changed since last year, with London, Cancun, Paris, Orlando, and Rome topping the list. Not surprisingly, New York is off the list this year despite being the fifth most popular tourist destination in 2022.

Traveling is not without health risks, and this year’s CDC warning centers around exposure to the poliovirus. Some of the countries on the warning list are expected, such as the Republic of Congo, Mali, and Indonesia, but others making the list are surprising. including Canada and the UK. The CDC strongly urges travelers to make sure they are vaccinated against polio before traveling, and travelers may be forced to prove immunization status before being allowed back into the U.S.

An estimated 28% of Americans are staying firmly grounded at home, citing inflation issues like high cost of living and increases in pricing for goods and services. Sadly, many Americans have relied on their savings to survive, and taken on massive debt to put food on their tables.

Dannelle Gay, founder of The Traveling Cheesehead, explained, “At the state conferences on tourism I have been to this year, they have been saying that the demographic that will find it almost impossible to fit travel into their budget this year is the families that make less than $50,000. The current issue of inflation means it simply isn’t in their budget this year to plan that road trip or those occasional weekend getaways. Even day trips might be off their agenda.”

That won’t stop wealthy top politicians from traveling. Despite the struggles of millions of Americans across the nation, weekly vacations to Delaware beach homes will remain a top priority for the White House.