More Americans can afford vacations but fewer want to take them

Do I stay or do I go?
Do I stay or do I go?
Image: Reuters/Bing Guan
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Americans have the money to travel this summer, but inflation and covid are giving them pause.

Only around a third of US consumers will use all of their vacation days this year, down from nearly 40% in 2019, according to a new survey by Bankrate, a financial planning site. Of those who aren’t planning a vacation this summer, 27% say they’re just not interested in taking one, the survey found. Another 20% are staying home because of covid, and 11% said they’re saving their vacation for another time.

The poll, which was conducted in early spring, showed that after beaches, the second most popular destination is a staycation, with 28% of respondents saying they’d rather chill at home than travel somewhere.

“I would still advise people to do something, even if that’s a staycation,” said Ted Rossman, an analyst at Bankrate. “I think the main thing is not to just have your nose to the grindstone the whole year and forfeit your vacation time and miss out on those memories with your family and friends.”

Americans are changing their summer vacation plans

While covid is still putting a damper on vacation plans, would-be travelers are also increasingly wary of rising prices. A quarter of respondents told Bankrate they’re canceling plans because of inflation.

Even though more Americans feel like they can pay for vacations in 2022 vs. before the pandemic, many are choosing to scale back by traveling to cheaper destinations or staying closer to home. Americans are also developing a new habit of taking work-cations instead of vacations, Rossman said.

However, consumers’ actions don’t always line up with their sentiment, Rossman added.

“Pent-up demand may end up winning the day,” Rossman said. “I was actually a bit surprised at how many people said they were altering their plans, because we also see data like from the airlines…they’re reporting really high demand for spring and summer.”