With social distancing guidelines and mask mandates lifting across the country, many Americans are anticipating the moment they can go out and travel like they used to.
In The Future of Travel report, Tripadvisor found that U.S. travelers are decisively stepping out of their comfort zone and returning to this highly-anticipated pastime with a vengeance. But while respondents across all demographics are booking more trips and spending more in the process, high-income millennials are the most likely to do so.
The travel company found that 32% of this demographic plans to increase their travel spending this year — almost double that of the typical respondent. Additionally, another 37% of high earners in this generation expect to spend more than $5,000 on their next trip.
More Americans feel comfortable with traveling in 2021
With the vaccine effort well underway across the globe, many people are seeing the world as a safer place to explore. The Future of Travel survey showed that 61% of respondents who didn't travel in 2020 are comfortable doing so this year.
Unsurprisingly, however, those who did travel last year (41%) are more likely to have already booked a trip than those who didn't (13%). This may be partly because of a lower perceived risk of health issues in this cohort, as 37% of booked travelers reported feeling comfortable traveling without a vaccine compared with 21% of unbooked travelers.
As to why they haven't booked their vacation yet, unbooked travelers gave the following reasons:
- Waiting on herd immunity (28%)
- Waiting to be vaccinated (22%)
On the other hand, though, millennials earning more than $50,000 a year are raring to get their vacation plans underway:
- 58% are considering domestic air travel (compared with 41% in other age groups)
- 25% are considering international air travel (80% higher than the average in other demographics)
The Tripadvisor report also found that more Gen Z and millennial respondents (34%) were able to save money over the past year than their Gen X and boomer counterparts (25%), amid a general improvement in saving and budgeting habits.
Perhaps because of that, millennial high earners were less concerned about the cost of their next trip than other respondents (40% versus almost 60%).
Vacationers flock to beach and city destinations this year
Nearly half of all respondents (45%) said that they wanted to relax on their next trip, which may explain why beach vacations remained the top choice for travelers in most age and income segments. In fact, 30% said that their next trip would be to a beach destination.
However, interest in city trips is also on the rise. Although a previous survey from American Express found that many travelers wanted to avoid larger cities and other crowded tourist destinations, Tripadvisor's findings now show that 25% of respondents are looking forward to a city vacation for their next trip, ahead of other nature trips and second only to beach destinations.
This preference is also greater for younger, less affluent travelers. For instance, Gen Z travelers earning less than $100,000 are twice as likely to travel to a city than to a nature destination other than the beach.
Methodology: In conjunction with Accenture and Tripadvisor, Qualtrics conducted an online survey of 1,000 American respondents from 49 states on March 3, 2021. Respondents were evenly distributed between baby boomer, Gen X, millennial and Gen Z generations.