Has the bad economy ruined your vacation plans?
Tough times call for tough cuts - but when it comes to vacations, more than half of Americans have marked their calendars for a summer getaway.
We're not talking long weekends at the in-laws, either. According to a recent survey by American Express, Americans plan to spend an average of $1,000 per person for fun in the sun.
Doesn't anyone take "staycations" anymore?
Back in 2008, a survey from the Y Partnership found that roughly 40% of Americans intended to change their travel plans because of the worsening economy, with 36% of those saying they planned to cancel or postpone trips that were already planned.
That's the year the word "staycation," the stay-at-home-vacation, joined the popular lexicon.
Well, people must not be feeling as pinched as they were back then. Only 11% of respondents to American Express's May survey said they planned to spend their days off sightseeing locally. The majority of folks are packing up the kids for a full-blown family excursion (52%), followed by couples getaways (26%), "girlfriend getaways"/"mancations" (10%), and "experiential" retreats (7%), like taking leave to hike or learn to cook.
Traveling the 2010 way
Instead of trying to convince the kids that the spiral slide at the McDonald's down the street is just as fun as The Great American Scream Machine (it didn't work in 2008, and they're not falling for it now), Americans are using other strategies to stretch travel budgets. According to survey results:
- 33% are driving instead of flying to their destination
- 30% plan to shorten the length of their stay
- 27% say they'll spend less on activities or excursions
- 20% will use points/rewards to help foot the travel bill
- 13% will stay put until the summer peak travel season passes
- 12% are downgrading their accommodations
How much can you save on your next vacation?
Before you pack your bags and line up a dogsitter, spend some real time doing some vacation savings reconnaissance. Concentrate first on ways to save on the most costly getaway expenses, then work your way down the list to see what costs you can cut (or cut down) to leave some money left over for souvenirs.
Airline travel is certainly one of the costliest vacation items, particularly when you add in the luggage fees for hitching a ride on most airlines these days. And then there's the fear of getting booted off a flight for being, um, out of shape. (Remember when Southwest booted actor/director Kevin Smith off a flight , supposedly for being size XL?)
Last year we wrote about how to save $240 on your next vacation , listing specific sites to help you track fares, comparison-shop for transportation and lodging, make the most of your points and score last-minute deals. Check it out and share your own best tips on saving money when you hit the road.
Share your travel savings secrets!
Got any cheap-travel strategies - favorite sites, inexpensive destinations, cost-cutting tricks? Do tell! And if you live in or near a tourist destination, give us potential visitors the inside scoop: Where do locals go for cheap entertainment?
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Dayana Yochim has a black belt in packing. She can do Europe for two weeks with just a carry-on.