Skift Take

Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season that will surely test American's resilience for inflation.

Nearly 60 percent of American adults shared that they have plans to travel during Memorial Day Weekend versus 27 percent in 2021, according to a recent survey by The Vacationer.

“This is a clear indicator that summer travel is going to be up significantly. In a general summer travel survey not related to Memorial Day, we saw more than 42 percent — 180 million people — said they intended to travel more this year than last year, so it’s not surprising that there is a significant increase in Memorial Day travel,” said Eric Jones, co-founder of The Vacationer. “People said that last year was gonna be the revenge travel year, but now that everyone’s much more comfortable with Covid and restrictions are pretty loose, this’ll really be that year.”

More than half of the survey’s respondents confirmed that they would be traveling by car this Memorial Weekend. And despite nearly 54 percent confirming that high gas prices will affect their travel plans in one way or another this Memorial Day, almost 57 percent said they were still going to take some sort of road trip, a form of domestic travel that has grown in popularity during the pandemic. Amongst road trip types, traveling somewhere closest to home was, naturally, most popular. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they would be going to a destination within 100 miles of their home, 13 percent said they were going to a destination within a 250 mile radius, and nearly eleven percent are headed somewhere within or over 500 miles from their home.

Aside from the majority, about 24 percent of respondents said that they have plans to travel internationally this summer holiday, with seven percent traveling only internationally and 16 percent doing a mixture of domestic and international. 

This level of comfortability with transatlantic travel is also being directly reflected in flight bookings. Major US airline Delta Air Lines recently shared that they expect to see approximately 2.5 million flyers during Memorial Day weekend, which is a 25 percent increase from 2021 passenger levels. 

All of these numbers follow several reports of American travelers saying that they are planning to spend more on travel this summer than that of last year. While higher gas prices may fail to deter many from still traveling, it will most likely force travelers to refrain from putting that spend elsewhere in their travel expenses. Despite only seven percent of US adults traveling via plane this Memorial Weekend, almost double that, 13 percent, expressed overall concern about inflated fuel prices affecting future airfare prices.

Memorial Day Weekend of 2022 will be a “test run” of sorts, as the first US holiday of this summer, which is already recording tremendous leaps in the travel industry since the start of the pandemic. Travelers will be testing the waters and looking to see whether these long-awaited travels are worth the higher gas prices and airfare they’re paying for. 

“This is the beginning of summer, so they’re going to have to watch their money. There are still a lot of people out there who are still cautious — they might travel for the first time, say Memorial Day, and then realize ‘Okay, inflation and gas is still going up, maybe I’ll reconsider for Fourth of July.’ If gas prices go down, people who were on the fence and leaning towards no might say yes, which could also increase overall travel,” said Jones.

June 29, 2022
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Tags: american travelers, coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, domestic travel, international travel, memorial day, road trips, summer, summer travel, Summer Travel Demand, us travel