While Americans Still Leave Vacation Time Unused, They Spent More on Travel in 2016
Generation X Travelers Will Spend Nearly Twice as Much as Millennials and More than Baby Boomers
By Max Hartshorne
Americans are spending more on summer vacations this year, topping $100 billion for the first time, according to the eighth annual Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index released today by Allianz Global Assistance.
This is the first time in the survey’s eight-year history that vacation spending has surpassed the $100 billion mark and represents a 12.5 percent increase over last year. What can you buy with $100 billion? Well, in cash it would take up most of the average sized American house.
Americans’ spending habits have risen for the second consecutive year – the total projected spend on summer vacations, among those confident, they’ll take one, is $101.1 billion, up from $89.9 billion in 2016.
On average, Americans will spend $1978 on summer vacations, a 10 percent increase from 2016 ($1798), which was an 11 percent rise from 2015 ($1621). Vacationing Millennials (ages 18-34) will spend the least ($1373) this summer, followed by Baby Boomers (ages 55+) ($1865), and Generation Xers (ages 35-54) will spend the most ($2628), on average.
Feeling Better and Ready to Spend
“Americans are feeling better about the economy and have loosened their purse strings for Summer 2017,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA.
“We’re happy to see that for the first time in the eight-year history of the Vacation Confidence Index, vacation spending will hit an impressive $100 billion. This new milestone is great news for the travel industry.”
The survey, which tracks Americans’ confidence that they will be able to take a summer vacation, revealed that more than four in ten (44 percent, up one point since last year) are confident they’ll take a summer vacation (34 percent very/10 percent somewhat), and half (51 percent, up a point) are confident about the prospect of a vacation at some point in 2017. Four in ten (40 percent) aren’t confident about taking a vacation, while one in ten (nine percent) have already taken one.
While Americans are slightly more confident they’ll take a vacation this year, some are questioning its overall importance. Down a significant six points since last year, the survey found that 59 percent of Americans say that taking an annual vacation is important to them (32 percent very/27 percent somewhat), and one in four (23 percent) say that annual vacations are not at all important to them.
Vacation Deficit Still Too High
Allianz Travel Insurance’s Vacation Confidence Index also found no significant change in the Vacation Deficit or percentage of Americans who think that a vacation is important but are not confident they'll be able to take one.
In 2017, two in ten (21 percent) of Americans who say an annual vacation is important to them are not confident that they’ll take a vacation, down one point from 2016 but still higher than the 2015 Vacation Deficit (19 percent).
“With the vacation spend breaking $100 billion, travel insurance is a must-have,” said Durazo. “The right travel insurance policy can protect a consumer's pre-paid travel expenses when they have to cancel their trip due to certain unexpected situations, such as a covered illness or injury, and it may also provide reimbursements for things like medical emergencies, delayed travel, and lost or delayed baggage."
The Vacation Confidence Index has been conducted each summer since 2010 by national polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance USA. A vacation is defined as a leisure trip of at least a week to a place that is 100 miles or more from home.
What is the Solution?
For many travelers, the answer might be in the sharing economy that is so often cited in the news. There are many new ways to stretch your budget that was never an option even five years ago. One of them is Air BnB, which allows people to stay in people's homes, either renting a room, an apartment or even an entire house.
Other travelers have realized the value of their own domicile, and have participated in a Home Exchange which allows them to swap their entire house, car and even their dog for that of another family.
In my own travels, I've encountered many home exchangers who said that this has been the most valuable travel experiences they have ever had. It's so much more authentic if you can actually live in a place for a time, rather than stay in a guest house or hotel. Being able to buy groceries, cook your own meals, and settle into someone else's routine is a true way to make guaranteed memories.
If you can't afford to book a hotel for two weeks, giving someone else access to your own home might be the perfect way to save money and enjoy a new experience.
Getting the Lowdown
Marc Berman and his wife Betsy Stone, of Northampton, Massachusetts, are regular home exchangers, who said that they look forward to getting to know the other couple or family whose house they are renting through the large amount of contact they have while negotiating the exchange.
"We go through everything, back and forth, with photos, from where the can openers are kept, to when the trash is picked up. We usually leave them the keys to our car and we use their car when we go," he said. "By the time you are ready to fly there, you both know a lot about each other and that eliminates the anxiety."
They have had successful home exchanges with families from Mexico and France, and plan to continue it since they are both retired.
Allianz Global Assistance offers travel insurance** through most major U.S. airlines, leading travel agents, online travel agencies, other travel suppliers and directly to consumers. For more information on Allianz Global Assistance and the policies offered for travelers, please visit http://www.allianztravelinsurance.com.
This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and GoNOMAD has received financial compensation. The opinions are all our own.
Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.