American travel habits revealed

Using our exclusive survey results to determine travel trends

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Here at Expedia Viewfinder, we talk a lot about travel, but now it’s time to talk about you. We wanted to hear from travelers across the nation to get a better sense of your travel tendencies. How do you plan? Where do you travel? And with whom do you want to travel?

As part of our report, we polled 1,000 Americans who have traveled at least once in the last two years. Participants included men and women, at least 18 years of age, with a wide range of interests and backgrounds. Of those studied, 48 percent were employed, 8 percent were students, while the remainder identified as unemployed, retired, or homemakers. Overall, 42 percent of the research group were married, and 71 percent had at least one child.

With the data gathered, we further broke down the numbers and filtered the results to determine travel habits and trends in 2017 among Americans like you. The following information includes the most popular answers, but also our exclusive data deep-dive insights. Check out our research and see how you compare!

Here’s how the following destinations rank by number of visitors

Miami, FL Las Vegas, NV New York City, NY Austin, TX Los Angeles, CA New Orleans, LA Boston, MA

Data deep dive:

  • Collectively, Miami was the most visited.
  • Most respondents age 18-34 have traveled to Miami, but the majority of middle-aged travelers between 34 and 44 have been to NYC.
  • When it comes to travelers who are 45 years and older, the majority of them have experienced the allure of Sin City.
  • Single travelers were more likely to have traveled to New York City, while married travelers have explored the bright lights of Las Vegas.

The levels of importance of the following when planning a trip

Friends & Family Relaxing Food & drink Outdoors Events Culture & History

Data deep dive:

  • No matter the age or gender of travelers, their friends and family and relaxing were rated the most important factors when arranging a trip.
  • When compared to travelers who are over the age of 35, those ages 18-34 ranked food and drink as a higher priority. With foodie towns and brewery scenes becoming increasingly trendy and popular, it’s no wonder people are basing their travels around their appetites.
  • What ranked as the lowest factors taken into account? Culture and history earned the lowest interest, and event travel came in at a close second to last.

People begin to plan and book a trip this far in advance

Two weeks or fewer Two to four weeks One to three months Three to six months More than 6 months

Data deep dive:

  • As a whole, the majority of travelers book one to three months in advance.
  • When broken down by gender, men were more likely than women to book two to four weeks out, while women tend to play it safer, booking three to six months ahead.
  • Travelers with no children were more likely than those with one or more kids to book less than two weeks out. With no strings attached, childless travelers may have more room in their schedules for those last-minute trips.
  • Of all the travelers polled, only 11 percent prefered to book their trips six months or more in advance. Hey, some of us like planning ahead!

America’s favorite U.S. cities


Data deep dive:

  • To no surprise, NYC and Las Vegas were some of the top picks.
  • Respondents with no children picked New York City as their favorite destination, but families with one to three children were more likely to choose coastal cities in California and Florida. Who doesn’t like a good family beach getaway?
  • Denver and Dallas received a lot of attention, too, and it’s no wonder. Scenic Denver is surrounded by mountains and is home to gourmet food trucks (hello, Pile High Burgers!) and a rising number of breweries, from Briar Common to Bruz Beers. As for Dallas, its eclectic Bishop Arts District features countless boutiques, such as Society, and artsy stops like Ginger Fox Gallery.
  • Some unique picks included Corpus Christi, where you’ll find the Texas Surf Museum and wild horses on the shores of nearby Padre Island, as well as Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is home to must-visit attractions, such as Lawton Ridge Winery and the VerHage Fruit Farms & Cider Mill.

The most-used trip-planning resources

Tips from friends Social media Review sites Booking sites Guide books Blogs & magazines

Data deep dive:

  • Respondents 25 years and older relied most heavily on their friends’ advice when compared to other travel planning tools.
  • The majority of younger travelers, ages 18-24, used social media as inspiration for their travels–Instagram is a platform known for inciting wanderlust.
  • As for those polled who identified as students, they used social media and reviews more often.
  • With only eight percent of travelers turning to guide books for advice these days, we wonder if social media is taking their place in the travel realm.

Newly arrived, the first thing people do at their destination

Check into their hotel Try a local restaurant Start their first activity Talk to locals


Data deep dive:

  • As soon as they arrive at their destination, the vast majority (77 percent) of those polled go straight to their hotel to settle in and drop their luggage off.
  • The second most popular thing to do after arriving? Travelers said trying out a local restaurant is at the top of their itinerary.
  • Upon arrival, travelers who are 54 and younger were the most likely to strike up conversations with locals, and 18- to 24-year-old travelers were the second most likely to start making friends.

Types of vacations people are interested in, ranked

Cruise All-inclusive Self-guided Backpacking Group tour

Data deep dive:

  • Overwhelmingly, the majority of those polled would like to book a cruise as their next vacation, which isn’t surprising considering our research shows that relaxation is one of the top reasons for travel.
  • Travelers with no children had their eyes on an all-inclusive trip, while those with one or more kids wanted to go on a cruise.
  • An interesting thing to note was that travelers with children were also more interested in a backpacking trip than those without kids.
  • Respondents who are 45+ years old and/or retirees were more likely to want to embark on a self-guided tour, rather than have everything taken care of at a resort or on a cruise.
  • Of all the options, across the board travelers were the least likely to book a group tour as their next adventure.

Travel budgets by $ range

$$$ – 33.77%


Data deep dive:

  • Overall, the majority of travelers said their budget is $$$.
  • Female travelers ages 18-24 determined their budget is $$$, but women ages 24-54 were more conservative, spending $$.
  • Is splurging on travel more important to men? Nearly all men responded that their travel budget is $$$, except for those 54 years and older who picked the $$-budget range.
  • Not surprisingly, those who reported earning higher-level incomes responded that their travel budget is $$$$.

Most popular reasons for travel

Just for fun Celebrations Outdoor activities Music/festivals Sports events

Data deep dive:

  • Regardless of travelers’ age and gender, just for fun was the number one reason for taking trips, followed by celebrations.
  • When compared with women, a higher percentage of men travel to explore the great outdoors.
  • Travelers 18-34 years of age were more likely to travel for music and festivals than those who are over 35 years and older.
  • Sporting events were the lowest-rated reason for traveling, with a mere seven percent of respondents saying they travel for big games or tournaments. There’s nothing wrong with rooting for the home team—at home!

 


Number of domestic trips taken per year

Zero One to two Three to four More than five

Data deep dive:

  • Overall, 60 percent of respondents travel domestically one to two times a year.
  • Travelers who are 54 and older responded that they were more likely to travel more than two times within the year.
  • Just under 10 percent travel more than five times a year within the states.
  • Those who reported making middle- to high-level incomes did not show significant signs of traveling more than the rest of the population.

Length of trips within the U.S.

One to two days Three to four days Five to seven days One to two weeks More than two weeks

Data deep dive:

  • As a whole, the majority of respondents travel for three to four days within the country.
  • Of the men polled, the majority said they travel for five to seven days, but women answered that they only travel for an average of three to four days in the U.S.
  • The number of children a traveler has may determine the number of days they travel, too. Single travelers and families with only one child responded that they usually travel for five to seven days, but those with two or more children travel for a shorter period of just three to four.
  • Just under five percent said they travel for more than two weeks at a time.

Number of international trips taken per year

Zero One to two Three to four More than five

Data deep dive:

  • The majority, 59 percent, of travelers do not venture outside of the country on a yearly basis.
  • Even the majority of those with higher incomes did not report annually traveling beyond the U.S.
  • Those with post-graduate degrees reported international travel at higher rates than the rest of the population: once or twice a year.
  • Just eight percent said they travel internationally more than three times in a year.

Length of international trips

One to two days Three to four days Five to seven days One to two weeks More than two weeks

Data deep dive:

  • Certain factors, such as level of income, education, and employment didn’t appear to affect the fact that the majority of people travel for one week, sometimes two weeks, but very rarely do they vacation outside of the U.S. for three weeks or more per year.
  • Less than three percent travel internationally more than five consecutive weeks.

The most important factors when booking a hotel

Price Reviews Amenities Local attractions Public transportation

Data deep dive:

  • Price is the overwhelming number one factor, but amenities and reviews nearly tie as runners-up.
  • After price, amenities are the most important factor for travelers over the age of 35. Therefore, when travelers are comparing two similarly priced hotels, we can assume that they are more likely to choose the one that offers better amenities, such as free breakfasts, fitness centers, pool access, and on-site restaurants.
  • For those who are 18 to 24 years old, reviews were the second most popular answer after price.
  • The least considered option is public transportation, but with the increase in ride-share options, this makes perfect sense.

 


Cities travelers are most interested in visiting

Orlando, FL New York City, NY Washington, D.C. Chicago, IL Salt Lake City, UT

Data deep dive:

  • The majority of travelers picked Orlando as their dream trip, with New York City coming in a close second.
  • Single travelers and those with no children chose NYC as their top choice.
  • As for retirees, the majority wanted to travel to Washington, D.C.

Trip types by destination

Cities: Los Angeles CA Salt Lake City, UT New Orleans, LA Boston, MA
Trip: Family Solo Friends Romantic


Data deep dive:

  • Of these cities, the majority of respondents thought they would make great family vacation destinations.
  • Those who are 45 to 54 years old would prefer to go to Salt Lake City and Boston with their families over other cities from the list.
  • More travelers with one to three children would prefer to go to Los Angeles with their families versus take a romantic trip there.
  • Though family vacations were the top pick, friend getaways were their second choices for these cities.
  • Travelers between the ages of 18 and 24 want to go New Orleans and Los Angeles with their friends.
  • Solo travel was rated as one of the least desired kind of trips to these spots.

Do these travel habits align with yours?

Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.

Hotel Deals for Miami Beach
Bikini Hostel, Cafe & Beer Garden
FL, USA
Oct 23 - Oct 26, 2017
per night from
$ 28
$ 28
Hotel Deals for Miami Beach
SoBe Hostel & Bar
FL, USA
Oct 23 - Oct 26, 2017
per night from
$ 46.48
$ 46.48
Hotel Deals for Miami Beach
Art Deco Drexel Apartments
FL, USA
Oct 23 - Oct 26, 2017
per night from
$ 46.85
$ 46.85
Hotel Deals for Miami Beach
Rock Hostel
FL, USA
Oct 23 - Oct 26, 2017
per night from
$ 47.06
$ 47.06
Hotel Deals for Dania Beach
Stay Inn
Save 38%
FL, USA
Oct 23 - Oct 26, 2017
per night from
$ 79
$ 48.98

Chloe Mulliner

As a staff writer for Expedia, Chloe Mulliner is dedicated to providing top travel tips for your jaunts around the world. She believes there are adventures to be had on every inch of the globe from surf spots on the Peruvian coast to the charming villages of the English countryside. Chloe specializes in showcasing all the must-see attractions on your travel wish list. She lives by the belief that every adventure is a story worth sharing.

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