Despite Economy, Fewer Taking a Vacation from Vacation

The allure of the “stay-cation” trend seems to be wearing off. While most travelers aren’t breaking the bank on exotic vacations, they are venturing out of their own back yards. Despite high prices at the pump and costly hotel rooms, this summer has people planning less expensive outings such as beach getaways, visiting historical landmarks and spending time in the great outdoors.

We conducted a recent online poll about road trip preferences and budgetary concerns. Over 500 would-be travelers responded. According to the results, lodging takes up the largest part of their budget, followed by travel costs, food, activities, and shopping, respectively. This year, hotel rates are up 5 to 10 percent, depending on the amenities. Plus, gas costs between $3.40 and $4.20 per gallon on average, more than $1 higher than last year, proving that travel costs are taking a larger chunk out of the wallet.

Unfortunately for souvenir shop owners, survey respondents ranked shopping as the lowest cost in their vacation budget. Vacationers may be trading off the shopping sprees and trinket hunting in order to make up for the cost of places to stay and gas prices. In this economy sacrifices have to be made, and it appears shopping is where travelers are choosing to do so.

The Beach Beats the Ballgame

Nearly 40 percent of the poll respondents listed relaxing on the beach as the top activity on their ideal summer road trip. A beach trip may be popular during these trying and unstable economic times because it often takes less planning and can be very relaxing too.

Seeing landmarks and historical sights, and hiking and camping both made the list for 18 percent of respondents. These options could be second and third because of their lower costs. Both camping and visiting landmarks are big draws for family vacations too. According to a survey done by American Express, nearly 70 percent of people traveling this summer will be doing so with immediate family, up almost 30 percent from last year.

Only 12 percent of respondents plan on visiting relatives or friends. Though this option saves money, travelers may be saving this for the holidays. (No doubt a disappointing result for many mother-in-laws.)

Going to an amusement park/ballgame/attractions—while these activities are popular, they are not the primary motivation for choosing a destination. Money and planning effort may be keeping some families off the roller coaster this year.

Travelers are spending more this year, but keeping an eye on excessive transportation costs, according to AOL’s Great Big 2011 Summer Travel Poll. Instead of spending significant dollars on getting to a destination, vacationers are spending money on actually doing things, like visiting national parks.

No matter the vacation choice, the open road seems likely to be more congested this summer. Even with higher gas prices and more expensive hotel rooms, don’t be surprised to see more cars on the highway, more crowded airplanes, and more of your fellow travelers at parks, historical sites and the seashore.

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