With the summer solstice marking the official start of summer, CivicScience wanted to shed some light on the latest travel trends emerging from the CivicScience Summer Travel Report. Data show that 60% of U.S. adults plan to travel in the next month, on par with last year and slightly exceeding expectations for this time. This season, high costs are top-of-mind for air travelers, and inflation is a concern for most travelers. However, in general, concerns are not strong enough to interfere with vacation plans, as consumers prioritize trips for relaxation while also potentially boosting well-being.

Here’s a summer travel insights preview of what’s in store, including a look at CivicScience’s tracker that scans and ranks hundreds of attributes.

1. Costs are still a concern, but consumer confidence in traveling by plane is up overall.

From COVID-19 and inflation to delay fiascos, such as the incident with Southwest over the holiday season, consumer sentiment toward flying has shifted over the last few years. However, the skies may be clearing up this summer. 

The latest CivicScience data show that concerns associated with flying – delays, COVID-19, cost, etc. – have nearly all decreased throughout 2023. In particular, the percentage of those who said they’re reluctant to fly due to flight delays dropped 17 percentage points from January (shortly after the Southwest meltdown) and 5 percentage points from April (during Spring travel season). COVID-19 concerns have also seen a steep decline this year – decreasing from 17% in January to 10% today.

Among all concerns, ‘flights being too expensive’ rank as the top deterrent to flying, but this figure has dropped over the course of the year and sits well below the percentage of people ‘not reluctant to fly’ (which grew 9 percentage points from January). Instead, consumers are growing somewhat more concerned about the flight itself, such as confrontations on planes.

2. Who’s cutting back on travel the most? Here’s what ongoing CivicScience data tracking says.

Similarly, many Americans anticipate cutting back on travel spending this year, but on a smaller scale compared to last year. As of June 1, CivicScience Summer Travel Report data show that 2-in-5 Americans are reducing their travel spending, which lies six percentage points lower than that figure in June 2022. Anticipated spending cuts have fallen more for travel than for any other category over this time, except gas.

While this is good news for the travel industry, not all consumers feel the same way about spending on travel. An analysis of 160 demographic and psychographic always-on questions shows that those very likely to cut back include Americans who expect to take on debt in the next six months, those who always compare prices, and those who tell others about disappointing products. Conversely, consumers very unlikely to cut back are most likely to say they trust politicians, live with their parents, and own/intend to buy AR products.

3. Travel has the potential to improve well-being.

Many are worried about high costs in general. Per report data, 91% of Americans say they’re at least ‘somewhat concerned’ about inflation, but such concerns are not holding Americans back on their vacations. Instead, consumers are traveling for relaxation the most (56%), and even to potentially boost their mental well-being. 

CivicScience Well-being Index data show that those who’ve traveled in the past six months are generally more happy and excited than those who have not done so. At the same time, they’re also slightly more likely to report negative feelings than non-travelers. This could hint that travelers may go on a vacation to improve their mood and well-being. 

Want to see the full Summer Travel Report, including additional insights on expected spending and the hospitality industry? The report is available in full to clients or can be purchased individually from the CivicScience Reports Store

To learn how your target consumers are already responding to the latest travel trends, work with us.