Among the 39 percent of Americans who plan to travel this holiday season, almost one-third (30%) say they expect to spend more than last year according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. On average, travelers plan to spend $460 per person with that figure jumping to $500 per person among young professionals and $560 among affluents. While most travelers will take to the roads and skies for Thanksgiving (19%) and Christmas (19%), one-tenth (10%) will take an off-peak trip before the end of the year and 6% will travel to ring in the New Year.
This month's American Express Spending & Saving Tracker surveyed consumers about end-of-year travel plans and spending intentions. The research sample of 2,005 adults included the general U.S. population, as well as two subgroups – the affluent and young professionals.
Home for the Holidays
The number one reason Americans will travel between now and the end of the year is to visit family and friends. However, the majority will not stray far. Most travelers (88%) will stay within the U.S., and actually within their geographic region. As a result, driving is the most popular form of transportation (74%) and more than a quarter (28%) plan to fly. While the number of people traveling to see family is up from 52 percent in 2009 to 64 percent this year, a sliver of respondents (2%) will do the very opposite and travel to avoid seeing family this year.
Whatever the motivation, almost one-third (30%) of travelers expect to spend more this year compared to last and will do so on:
- Taking a longer trip (23%)
- Dining out (20%)
- Activities and entertainment (20%)
- Traveling with more people (19%)
- Staying in better accommodations (16%)
- Going to a more expensive destination (15%)
- Flying first or business class (8%)
"From hotels to restaurants, there will be many winners this holiday season as consumers plan to open their wallets to enhance their holiday travel experience," said Claire Bennett, senior vice president, American Express Travel. "Our research shows consumers are investing more in the areas that are most meaningful to them – like traveling home for the holidays -- while looking for clever ways to offset their costs elsewhere."
Consumers Remain Value Conscious
Although many consumers expect to spend more than last year on end-of-year travel, the majority (77%) are still looking for ways to cut costs when possible. The most popular ways consumers will save is by staying with family and/or friends (50%) and driving instead of flying (28%) followed by:
- Traveling during off-peak dates (13%)
- Using loyalty/rewards points (11%)
- Waiting for last minute deals (8%)
Borrowing from the blockbuster "The Holiday," starring Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, some travelers will even swap homes this holiday season to save money (3% among the general population, 1% among affluents, and 5% among young professionals).
The 61 percent of people without end-of-year travel plans cited a variety of reasons why they will stay put, including:
- Not having money for travel (30%)
- Family/friends are traveling to them instead (11%)
- Plan to use money saved for travel on other things, such as holiday gifts, local activities, and necessities (12%)
- Feeling travel around the holidays is too hectic or stressful (9%).
Young Professionals and Affluents Especially on the Go
Young professionals are almost twice as likely as the general population to travel between now and the end of the year (72% versus 39% for the general population) and are also more likely to travel than affluents (55%). Many plan to ring in the New Year away from home, with 22 percent planning a New Year's trip, compared to just six percent of the general population and 10 percent of affluents. Affluents are most likely to take an off-peak trip before the end of the year (17%) versus the general population (10%) or young professionals (9%). Of these trips, 14% will be international destinations.
About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker
The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18+. The research sample of 2,005 adults surveyed the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups – the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between October 4 and October 8, 2010. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 (or 4.3 among affluents and 4.4 among young professionals) percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, please visit americanexpress.com/aboutus.
About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.