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Americans to spend $475bn on vacations in 2016 but still prefer tried-and-true locations and venues according to new Travelex research commissioned for its 40th anniversary

Key findings:

  • Americans set to spend $475bn on vacations in 2016
  • 40 years ago, Americans’ top vacation spot was Florida, with 6% spending their childhood holidays here
  • 2016’s vacation hotspot abroad is Mexico with 6% of Americans choosing it as their top choice for trips in 2016
  • 29% of Americans dream vacation would be in space, particularly among young people with 43% of them wishing to visit the Moon, Mars and the stars
  • When it comes to looking for vacation locations, tried-and-true is the number one way forward with 23% of Americans opting for a brand name hotel for their next vacation. Only 4% of Americans are planning on booking their next trip through Airbnb
  • Air travel is no longer a glamorous start to the vacation, but something to suffer through with only 2% of Americans looking forward to the plane journey
     

New research from Travelex as part of its History of the Vacation 40th anniversary reveals that Americans will be making the most of their well-earned time off this year with 95% planning to take at least one vacation in 2016. And with each American planning to spend an average of $2,041 on their vacation, total vacation spend from Americans this year could top $475bn[1].

With two-fifths (41%) of Americans (and 50% of young professionals aged 18-34 years old) planning trips to foreign locales in 2016, it seems that Americans are becoming more adventurous travelers. However, there’s still a strong desire to keep with tried-and-true even when abroad, with a quarter (23%) confirming that they’d be most likely to book a hotel with a trusted brand name such as Marriott or Hilton.

For brand name hotels, perhaps they should be looking to the stars for their next opening, with 29% of Americans picking space as their dream vacation destination. Millennials in particular are enthusiastic about trips to space, with 43% of them picking it as their number one. However, nostalgia does still carry a lot of weight among Baby Boomers with nearly a quarter (23%) wishing that their next vacation could transport them back to the swinging sixties and seventies of their youth.

Getting back to today, Mexico is now the most popular destination for holidays abroad with 6.3% of Americans planning a trip there in 2016. Mexico ranks highest among parents looking for a family-friendly destination abroad with 8.5% of 35-54 year olds planning their vacations here. The Caribbean also ranks highly with 5.8% of Americans picking that to be their vacation location this year, particularly among young professionals with 6.8% aiming to visit those islands.

The 40 year old vacation

This research was conducted as part of Travelex’s History of the Vacation feature, to mark the company’s 40th anniversary. In the 40 years that Travelex has been supplying Americans with their foreign currency, vacation habits in the US have changed dramatically. While forty years ago, air travel was seen as the glamorous start to a vacation, now only 2% of Americans look forward to the plane journey.

Previously vacations were typically focused on visiting friends and family (31% of Americans said that this was their typical vacation as a child), while road trips either staying in motels (15%) or camping along the way (19%) were also common.

While food didn’t figure highly on the vacation wish list forty years ago – apart from being able to eat things you weren’t supposed to eat according to 8% of us – now 31% of Americans are choosing their vacation hotspot based on the opportunity to try local food and drink, and 40% will spend the majority of their travel money on food and drink.

Despite Americans becoming more adventurous in their destinations, they are still sticking to their tried-and-true favorites of hotels (31%) and all-inclusive resorts (21%) when it comes to accommodation. In fact, despite its popularity in the press and the concerns raised by the hotel industry, only 4% of Americans are planning on booking their next vacation accommodation with Airbnb. However, Airbnb does rank higher among young professionals with 8% of those aged 25-34 years old planning to book their next trip through the site, although this is still less popular than hotels, all-inclusive resorts or bed & breakfasts.

Where cash previously reigned supreme as the only option for travelers abroad, nowadays Americans are turning to a number of different methods to pay for goods while on vacation. Cash is still popular with 29% planning on this as their primary method, but ‘show me the plastic’ of credit cards, debit cards and pre-paid currency cards such as Travelex’s Multi-Currency Cash Passport is now the behavior to follow with 61% of Americans using this method when abroad.

The online survey was conducted for Travelex by Survata of 2,003 census-representative US residents in January 2016. The release also includes details from an online survey conducted by Travelex by YouGov of 2,258 census-representative US residents in October 2015.

[1] https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf - US adult population of 245,247,000, 95% plan on taking at least one vacation in 2016

About Travelex

Travelex is the world's largest foreign exchange specialist with almost 1,400 stores and 1,250 ATMs across 29 countries, at key airport, seaport, rail and tourist locations. Over 40% of travelers - 1.7 billion passengers a year - pass through airports where Travelex operates including the major gateways at Amsterdam, Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Sydney & Tokyo. Every hour Travelex provides foreign currency to more than 2,000 customers.

Contact: Lexi Kantz, Hotwire PR for Travelex

lexi.kantz@hotwirepr.com / 1.415.840.2790

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