“People miss travel, they have vacation days to use and they also want to stay safe,” says Senior Director of PR and Social for Expedia.com, Nisreene Atassi. “Given how quickly the advice and restrictions are changing, one of our main priorities at Expedia is making sure our customers have the information they need to navigate this summer travel season.”
Read on for more insights and tips from the Expedia 2020 Summer Travel Report.
Summer travelers staying closer to home
Traveling within the U.S. is always a popular option for Americans, but international travel restrictions coupled with health and safety uncertainty has led to a 10 percent increase in domestic summer travel searches, according to data from Expedia.com.1 Nearly 85 percent of hotel searches on the site in June were for accommodations located within the U.S. Furthermore, about a quarter of June bookings were for same-state stays, a slight increase from last year.
Last-minute getaways are also on the rise, with more travelers booking trips 0-7 days out this summer than in previous years.
“While the desire to get away is still going strong for many of us, how and where we’re choosing to go this summer looks different,” says Atassi. “Beaches and national parks remain popular, but more Americans are choosing destinations that are closer to home and drivable, versus going somewhere more exotic. Interestingly, we’ve seen that travelers are making these plans at the last minute. Things are so unpredictable right now with COVID-19, so it’s possible that travelers feel more comfortable making travel plans for the near future vs. planning too far ahead.”
Safety first: road trips seen as the safest way to get away this summer
According to a recent survey of 1,000 Americans commissioned by Expedia2, 85 percent say they’re planning or likely to go on a road trip this summer, driven primarily by the need for a change of scenery (43%) and the desire to enjoy the outdoors (36%).
As travelers venture away from home and destinations open back up to tourism, health and safety takes priority over price when trip-planning. 72 percent of survey respondents said they’re opting for a road trip this summer because it feels safer than flying, and more people listed health and safety (72%) and avoiding crowds (68%) as top concerns over budget (60%). In response to these concerns, the industry is rolling out new sanitation measures to help minimize risks. Expedia displays these hygiene amenities on the site so travelers can feel comfortable leaving home; they’ll know whether a hotel property has enhanced cleaning processes or if an airline requires passengers to wear face masks.
Travelers can also message their hotel or vacation rental right from the Expedia mobile app and ask for more info on their policies, request special arrangements or check whether certain amenities like the pool or spa are going to be open.
With so much uncertainty impacting vacation plans this year, many travelers are opting for plans that can be easily adjusted, canceled or rescheduled. Expedia data1 shows 97 percent of hotel stays booked in June were refundable rates, a 20 percent increase from the year prior.
To make it easier to search for flexible options, Expedia lets travelers filter by hotels that offer free cancellation and airlines that are waiving any change fees for future bookings.
“People often choose non-refundable rates because they’re generally cheaper, but with so many destinations eager to welcome back tourists it’s more realistic than ever to find a great value without having to sacrifice flexibility,” says Atassi.
Planning tips and tricks
Survey respondents2 weighed in with their top advice and considerations for those planning a summer road trip:
- Have a plan. Thinking about where to stop for gas, how long to drive each day and what time of day to drive through a town are all aspects of a road trip to map out in advance.
- Know where to stay. If you’re among the 52 percent of travelers staying in hotels & motels this summer, make sure to research ahead of time or inquire about specific policies such as whether the property will have decreased occupancy. Other accommodation types people will most likely opt for on a road trip this summer include staying with friends/family (31%), vacation rentals (28%) and camping (24%).
- Do vehicle maintenance. Car trouble, especially with kids or pets in the mix, is rarely a fun experience. When planning a road trip, have your car serviced or inspected before leaving. Alternately, rent a car with better gas mileage or more space. Bundling a hotel and car rental on Expedia.com can also mean hundreds in trip savings.
- Download apps. Whether it’s a kid-friendly game or navigation, it’s a good idea to download any apps you’ll need before hitting the road. The Expedia mobile app is a great resource for summer trip planning, for finding flexible, last-minute travel deals and keeping track of your trip while on-the-go.
- Remember to bring cash. Tolls, cash-only services and tipping are just a few things you might need money for during a road trip.
- Pack the essentials. In addition to clothing and toiletries, road trippers advise bringing snacks, an emergency kit, cleaning/sanitary products, valid documents (ID and insurance card) and a spare car key.
For more information and inspiration on trip planning, check out the Expedia Viewfinder Blog.
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1Data based on interest or demand on Expedia.com during June 2020 for travel between June 1 – September 7, 2020 compared to the same time periods in 2019.
2Survey commissioned by Expedia and conducted by Survey Monkey, polling 1,077 respondents, aged 18+, located in the U.S.