On Sept. 6, Tripadvisor®, the world's largest travel guidance platform, released the next in its Seasonal Travel Index series, revealing data and trends about what to expect for travel this fall.
Although the popular summer vacation season has more or less come to a close, travel doesn't appear to be fading with it: 74 percent of American travelers surveyed report they will travel this fall, well above the 61 percent planning to travel at the same time last year. Similarly, over half (52 percent) plan to travel more than they did last fall, and only 3 percent will travel Iess.
On trend with increased travel is a rise in international trips. While 65 percent of U.S. travelers will stay domestic this fall, the remaining travelers set their sights on global destinations: more than a quarter (27 percent) will travel both internationally and domestically, and nearly one in ten (8 percent) have fully prioritized international travel over domestic this season. Notably, the share of international travel has recently surpassed pre-pandemic levels, a trend gradually rising over the past two years. Even for those staying in the U.S., the vast majority (80 percent) plan to travel over four hours from their home.
Same cities, new ways to explore
City breaks are most popular with travelers this fall, as familiar favorites in Europe and Mexico continue to shine. Most travelers (75 percent) plan to return to a destination they've visited before, as repeat destinations can give travelers a greater sense of security. That said, people want to explore these destinations in more depth, evidenced by the fact that "culture and sightseeing" is the number one trip type for Americans this fall, and interest in museums and cultural sites is rising. Tripadvisor's first-party data indicates that travelers are keen to try more local tours and activities, booking new and elevated ways to experience classic attractions (as shown below).
For those staying stateside, the ever-popular Las Vegas, New York City, and Orlando round out the top three most popular destinations Americans will visit, respectively. As U.S. travelers attempt to stretch out their summers, enjoying warmth and sunshine past Labor Day, smaller Sun Belt destinations are seeing increased interest.
Below are the top trending domestic destinations for Americans this fall on Tripadvisor, based on places with the greatest year-over-year growth.
Little Torch Key, Florida
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Miami Springs, Florida
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Holmes Beach, Florida
Solo travel on the rise Over one-quarter (26 percent) of American travelers surveyed will take a solo trip this autumn. This is well above the global total of 15 percent and the 17 percent who reported traveling solo last fall. While the reasons behind this trend may vary, it is a sign that travelers are more comfortable journeying alone and want to fully immerse themselves in the local culture.
Americans most excited about their trips When asked how they feel about their upcoming trip, 78 percent of Americans reported being excited, and 70 percent responded "happy," both being well above global totals of 64 percent and 60 percent, respectively, for these positive emotions.
This is even though their trips will be more modest than their international counterparts: Americans are most likely to take trips 2-4 nights long, well below the totals of other countries who will average 5+ nights. Notably, Boomers are likelier to take 5-plus day trips than other age groups. Americans also over-index in reporting staying in vacation rentals and with friends and family (versus hotels) and are more likely to be flexible when choosing a destination (60 percent) than the global population of respondents (48 percent).
With fewer trips on average, Americans are eager to maximize those trips. Thus, U.S. travelers are likely to book more on-trip activities on average (3-5) compared to people living in all other countries surveyed and are interested in a wide array of components such as food, activities, relaxation, shopping, people and weather, showing that their excitement is multifaceted.
Other key drivers among U.S. travelers this fall include:
Over half of travelers surveyed (54 percent) plan to spend more on travel this upcoming season than last year.
Thirty-seven percent said macroeconomic factors will change how they travel over the next three months (64 percent due to higher cost of living due to inflation, 50 percent change in financial circumstances due to the economy).
Most important trip factor is cost/affordability (62 percent.)
Most travelers plan to visit one to two cities while on their trip.
Forty-seven percent of Americans will travel by plane (below global total of 54 percent), 40 percent by car (well above 27 percent global average) and only 3 percent by train.
Travelers plan to take 1-2 trips (65 percent), 3-5 trips (25 percent), or 6-plus trips (10 percent) this fall.
Main purpose of upcoming trip: make memories (52 percent), followed by relax/rejuvenate (49 percent).
Most travelers will prioritize food while on their trip (67 percent), which aligns with food generating the most excitement. Younger groups are more likely to prioritize food, nightlife, and shopping.
Forty-nine percent of Americans have booked or plan to book restaurant reservations in advance, with local options being the most popular: 54 percent will book a local fine dining restaurant, and 52 percent a local casual restaurant.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) fill in the rest of their trip by deciding at the moment depending on how they're feeling, followed by travel websites and apps.
Overall, travelers mainly get around via walking or public transport once they reach their destination. Car transportation (personal, rental rideshare) is more prevalent among U.S. respondents.
Most plan their upcoming trip one to six months in advance. Millennials are less likely to plan things under a month in advance compared to other age groups.
Younger travelers (Gen Z, millennials) are more than twice as likely to book or plan to book a reservation in advance compared to other age groups (53 percent vs. 21 percent, on average).
Sixty-one percent of respondents book their activities before their trip begins, with almost a quarter booking four or more weeks before their trip. Boomers are more likely to book four plus weeks in advance on their upcoming trip (41 percent vs. 19 percent, on average).
Gen Z and millennials are more likely to feel negative emotions (i.e., cautious, overwhelmed, anxious) than older generations.
Methodology The data cited in this release was gathered and analyzed from three key sources:
A Tripadvisor Consumer Sentiment Survey, based on data drawn from an online survey of over 2,400 consumers, in partnership with Qualtrics, conducted between June 20 - July 1, 2023, across six countries, including Australia, Italy, Japan, Singapore, U.K. & U.S.
Site behavioral data sourced from first-party traffic data on the Tripadvisor platform, gathered between June 1 - July 8, 2023, for searches made by travelers in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Japan, and Singapore for travel between September 1 - November 30, 2023.
Tripadvisor internal data, July 1-31, 2023.