Soft Economy Hasn’t Grounded Summer Travel Plans; Average Family of Four Will Spend $4,000 on a Vacation According to American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

Business Wire

At Home, 58 Percent of Parents Plan to Spend an Average of $600 Per Child on Summer Activities, from Camp to Swimming Lessons

May 17, 2010

Public Company Information:


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Summer travel is a priority for the majority of Americans despite the economic downturn, and according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, more than half (51%) are planning a vacation this summer—even more so among affluents (73%) and young professionals (83%). Those surveyed plan to spend an average of $1,000 per person on summer travel, indicating that the average family of four1 expects to spend about $4,000 on their summer vacation. That figure jumps to around $4,800 among young professionals and nearly $6,400 among affluents. Parents, however, are planning more than summer vacations, as 58 percent are ready to arrange summer activities for their children and plan to spend an average of $600 per child.

This month’s American Express Spending & Saving Tracker surveyed consumers about their plans and spending intentions as they relate to summer travel and recreational activities. The research sample of 2,000 adults included the general U.S. population, as well as two subgroups – the affluent and young professionals.

“The summer vacation, and particularly, the family vacation is alive and well this year,” said Audrey Hendley, vice president of American Express Travel. “People are passionate about travel, and frequently we find that they would rather find creative ways to reduce the cost of their trip rather than do without it altogether. Other investments this summer tend to be around parents finding experiences and activities for their children at home -- ensuring a fun-packed summer.”

Americans Spending on Vacations with Family and Friends

While family trips will be most popular (52%), a variety of other vacation types are being planned, including:

  • Couples trips (26%)
  • Trips with friends such as “girlfriend getaways” and “mancations” (10%)
  • A “staycation”—intending to enjoy time off and attractions near home (11%)
  • Experiential or adventure vacations such as a culinary retreat or hiking trip (7%)
  • Educational vacations (4%)

Of those taking a summer vacation, most (89%) will stay within the U.S., with destinations in the South (31%) and Northeast (29%) being the most frequented. A significantly smaller percentage of consumers (16%) plan to travel outside of the U.S., primarily to the Caribbean (6%), Canada (5%), and Europe (4%). Affluents (19%) are more likely to venture outside of the U.S. and young professionals (29%) are twice as likely as the general population to do so.

The 49 percent of people without summer vacation plans this year cited several factors. Among those people:

  • 44 percent said they had not saved for a vacation
  • 23 percent reported they plan to spend the money on something else like home improvements or local activities. Included in these, 18 percent plan to spend on family necessities.
  • Only eight percent said they don’t have the time to either plan or take a vacation this year

Savvy Strategies to Maximize Vacation Budgets

The vast majority (80%) have a strategy to reduce the cost of their summer vacations. The most popular ways to stretch travel dollars among the three groups surveyed include:



Driving instead of flying to destination 33% 28% 33%

Planning a shorter length of stay




Spending less on activities or excursions




Dedicating more time to bargain-hunting for deals on airfare and accommodations in the research phase of their planning




Using points/rewards for travel




Traveling outside summer holidays




Downgrading on accommodations




Staying Connected While Away

While on vacation, the majority (77%) of Americans intend to stay “connected” via Internet, phone, social media or other channels. However, the primary reason for doing so is to stay in touch with family and friends (89%), as opposed to staying on top of the news (31%) or work (14%).

Aside from checking personal and/or work-related email (79%), the most popular online activities consumers plan to engage in while on vacation include:

  • Using Internet sites to find trip-related information, recommendations/deals for restaurants/activities, and directions (38%)
  • Online banking (37%)
  • Checking/updating social media profiles (20%)

Most consumers (65%) expect connectivity to be included in their vacation accommodations and are not willing to pay extra, but 35 percent would be willing to pay an additional fee.

Keeping Kids Busy All Summer Long

At home, 58 percent of parents will also look for ways to keep their children engaged through educational and recreational activities. In fact, many parents (26%) say they will spend more on activities during the summer than they do during the school year with an average of $600 per child. The most popular activities planned for their children outside of the home are:

  • Some form of camp (35%)
  • Enrichment activities, such as music, theatre or art classes (10%)
  • Swimming lessons (10%)
  • Summer school or tutoring (8%)
  • Foreign language classes (4%)

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 2,000 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 April 16 and April 21, 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

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 and connect with us on, and

1 Vacation spending per person for the general population is $1019; for young professionals $1156; and for affluents $1622.


American Express
Mona Hamouly, 212-640-0512
Sloane & Company
Amanda Cheslock, 212-446-1884

About American Express

American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at, and connect with us on,,,, and

Get alerts delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up
Business Wire NewsHQsm