Skift Take

High gas prices and inflation haven't dented travel demand for Labor Day weekend because Americans have dealt with economic turbulence long enough to know how much they can set aside for travel.

Nearly 53 percent of American adults intend to take a trip over the Labor Day holiday weekend despite nearly the same percentage indicating high gas prices are impacting their travel plans, according to a recent survey by The Vacationer.

An estimated 137 million Americans plan to travel over the holiday weekend, a figure on par with the number that intended to take trips during the same period last year. That bodes well for the travel industry’s recovery, believes Eric Jones, the co-founder of The Vacationer. 

“For the first time since the pandemic began, year-over-year holiday travel is fairly level,” Jones said. “The decrease in (travel) from (Covid) will soon be in the rearview mirror.”

Source: The Vacationer

Pain at the pump is still weighing on the minds of U.S. consumers, though. Half of American adults said high gas prices, despite a recent drop, would affect their Labor Day travel plans, a figure unchanged from the Fourth of July weekend. Airfares are expected to rise 20 percent this Labor Day weekend from the same period in 2019. Almost 17 percent of survey respondents said gas prices are impacting planned Labor Day trips because they’re looking to fly.

But as 14 percent of Americans intend to travel primarily by plane for Labor Day, a higher figure than for both this year’s Fourth of July and Memorial Day weekends, Jones said consumers are modifying their travel spending instead of canceling trips.

“Some people will even choose to take a reduced or cheaper trip than they originally had planned.” he said. “While gas prices and inflation are on the minds of Americans, they will likely look to save money while vacationing by spending less on dining out, excursions, and other extra amenities.”

A little less than 36 percent of survey respondents said they would travel primarily by car during the Labor Day weekend. That’s a roughly 7 and 13 percentage point drop from the figures recorded for the Fourth and July and Memorial Day weekends, respectively. Meanwhile, almost 53 percent of respondents said they would take some sort of road trip over the Labor Day weekend, with those opting to do so largely looking to do so close to home. Twenty-six percent of survey respondents overall said they plan to go on a road trip within 100 miles of their homes while 13.5 percent intend to stay within a 250-mile radius. Only 13.2 percent plan to take a more than 500-mile road trip.

While the number of Americans planning Labor Day trips is similar to the number that stated Fourth of July travel intentions this year, it is 6 percentage points below the number that planned Memorial Day trips. Although Labor Day is the last big chance consumers have for summer travel, Jones said the Memorial Day weekend had the advantage of being a prime opportunity for consumers to go on revenge travel after a long Covid-induced pause.

“Memorial Day being the de facto beginning to the summer travel season allowed it to have a bit more travel intention,” he said.

Tags: airfares, coronavirus recovery, domestic leisure travel, domestic travel, fuel prices, gas, road trips

Photo credit: A plurality of Americans intend to travel by car for Labor Day weekend Raivis Razgals / Unsplash