May 02, 2023
Many of the fears and restraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are long gone, and the ability to travel anywhere in the world without excessive worry has returned. With a renewed sense of freedom, U.S. travelers appear eager to visit new places or revisit their destinations, despite their growing travel spending-related concerns.
Based on current research, near-term and international travel and holidays are steadily on the rise, displaying American travelers’ intention to leave the past behind and reclaim their fair share of fun for both themselves and their loved one(s), despite the economic anxiety.
According to research, traveling increased significantly in 2022, compared to 2020 and 2021, with more than 80% of U.S. travelers having plans for a fun 2022 getaway from the early months of the year, to visit friends and family, or for business (conference, convention, etc.) purposes. Of them, almost 60% had reported planning to travel for leisure in the months of November and December, with most of them having been focused more on travel plans for Thanksgiving (a 20% increase compared to 2021) and Christmas (almost a 30% increase compared to 2021), and nearly 15% of American travelers were going away for New Year’s.
Moving into 2023, international travel appears to be on Americans’ wishlist for this year, with 34% of travelers currently saying they are looking forward to getting outside the borders of the U.S. in the upcoming 12 months to visit popular European, Mexican, Canadian, and Caribbean destinations.
What is even more optimistic is the fact that American excursionists display extremely high levels of excitement regarding their future travel plans compared to the past 3-4 years. In fact, the same research has shown that a whopping 80% of U.S. travelers are already planning a trip or thinking about their future travel frequently!
Travel trends are changing, bringing new travel requirements to the forefront. Apart from the stereotype vacation, the American traveler seems to be on the lookout for alternative ways to travel, such as:
• Rustic getaways – Also referred to as hay-cations, this type of travel is all about private vacation properties providing ample space and heart-stopping vistas (usually in the countryside) and offering intimate, more authentic experiences. These can include anything from renovated barns turned into elegant homes to converted farmhouses in the Italian, French, Spanish, or Australian countryside. This trend is showing a 50% rise in the past few years.
• Movie-inspired destinations – An increasing number of Americans (44% of those surveyed) get inspiration from pristine and idyllic filming locations for their vacations. The newly-found term for this type of traveler is the “set-jetter,” which is an individual seeking stately homes near the beautiful settings of a film or TV show they have watched or streamed. Villas with glistering ocean views and beachfront properties, as well as picturesque hillside mansions overlooking magnificent natural landscapes reign. What’s also particularly interesting is the fact that Americans appear almost three times more influenced by filming locations than social media!
• Making up for the lost time-type of vacations– The travel and hospitality industry call it “revenge travel” and demonstrates American travelers’ intention to cover the time lost due to the travel restrictions related to the recent coronavirus pandemic. This trend is expected to skyrocket in 2023, with the majority of U.S. voyagers booking more long-awaited trips to their dream destinations than ever before.
• Virtual traveling – The advancements of Virtual Reality have brought Americans closer to booking their next trip. According to Booking.com and Metaverse, one in every three travelers choose to get inspired from virtual travels before booking their 2023 vacations. Not bound by physics, American tourists are now more willing to experiment with diverse travel experiences, including immersive, virtual, 3D ventures that help replicate desired destinations, allowing travelers to be even bolder in their real-life journey decisions.
• Luxury travel redefined – Going on exotic safaris, staying at chic all-inclusive resorts, flying or cruising private, or simply eating at nicer restaurants and staying in more stylish and exclusive hotels and private villas all seem to be part of the redefined luxury travel trend, where travelers require the best value for their money without having to overspend to enjoy utmost pampering and upscale ventures. “This year (and moving onward) is expected to be an exceptional period for luxury travel, with the world’s rich and famous showing no sign of holding back when it comes to chartering private jets and luxury yachts, booking lavish villas, and hiring experts to organize the most adventurous holidays for them,” said Thanasis Mougios, owner of kinglikeconcierge.com, one of the best luxury villas renting companies in the world.
According to a recent survey, Americans with a higher income are planning to spend more money on their 2023 vacation travels (nearly a twofold increase on international holiday spendings, from around 2 million in 2019 to almost 4 million in 2023) – approximately $15,500 on average. As anticipated, millennials top the list of American travelers with the most already-planned international trips in 2023, while baby-boomers follow closely, intending to spend twice as much on beyond-U.S. vacation trips in 2023 than in the previous years.
What is noteworthy about the average American traveler, though, is the fact that they appear more interested in sustainable destinations, and much more focused on travel services than ever before. Activities that involve outings in nature, getting closer to the natural surroundings of a destination, and living like a local now seem to be core requirements.
In addition, U.S. travelers that love European destinations show a strong tendency toward organized vacation packages, including organized tours and cruises, in 2023. However, there is a portion of Americans that consider Hong Kong the perfect vacation spot, which is evident by the 10-fold increase in Hong Kong booking enquiries after the COVID-19 measures have been lifted.
Most U.S. travelers wish to visit popular destinations in Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, Asia, and the South Pacific. They also seek less traveled and touristy locations, especially in the Mediterranean Sea, which has always been a favorite option as it combines natural allures, sugary beaches, warm weather almost year-round, and unique entertainment options with night-long parties and VIP endeavors. This is particularly true for leisure travelers (millennials and baby boomers alike), who plan on traveling with their partner, significant other, or friends.
In particular, according to a Hopper survey, U.S. travelers show a distinct preference toward destinations like Asia, while Sydney, India, and Munich are also on the top 10 list of the most preferred international destinations. Domestic destinations such as Miami, Orlando, and Los Angeles are the most popular. However, Greece continues to wave from the top 3 travel destinations for U.S. travelers (along with France and Ireland) based on information from a 2022 US Tour Operators Association survey, coming right after Italy, which topped the ranking, and Germany that came in second.