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Increasing majority of Americans say outlook on the economy won't alter their summer travel plans

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Increasing majority of Americans say outlook on the economy won't alter their summer travel plans

A continued ban on in-flight cell phone calls provides majority of Americans with a much-needed escape.

According to a new Harris Poll, with the weather finally on the upswing after what was a harrowing winter for many, Americans are undoubtedly looking to make the most of their summers. Some are predicting that summer travel on U.S. airlines will reach an all-time high this year, and a recent Harris Poll sees similar highs ahead for the U.S. travel industry. Nearly seven in ten Americans (68%) have at least one leisure trip planned for summer 2015 (May through August), a slight increase from the 66% who planned one last year and an overall steady growth rate since the six in ten (60%) who planned a trip three years ago for summer 2012.

Americans' outlook on the economy isn't acting as a barrier when it comes to summer travel. More than half of Americans (53%) say their outlook on the U.S. economy has no impact on their likelihood to travel this summer – an overall 13% improvement from when this question was first asked six years ago (40% in 2009) – and an additional 9% say their outlook on the economy will make them more likely to travel. Twenty seven percent still say they're less likely to travel this summer due to their outlook on the U.S. economy, but that percentage continues to decrease year over year.

"Business travel, however, has yet to make a similar recovery, with just 15% of Americans planning at least one business trip." 

Business travel, however, has yet to make a similar recovery, with just 15% of Americans planning at least one business trip. While relatively unchanged from last year's 14%, it's a cumulative eight-point drop compared to six years ago (23% in 2009).

Regardless the type of travel, Americans plan to spend upwards of $1,500 on their trips, on average. Those planning summer leisure travel anticipate spending an average of $1,722 on their trips while those anticipating a business trip plan to spend $1,513, on average.

Location, location, location
When those planning at least one leisure trip over the summer are asked what types of destinations they plan to visit, beach locations (43%) rise to the top. In a distant second place, vacationers will visit the downtown/center of a city (32%), followed by a national/state park (24%) and countryside/rural locations (22%). Two in ten are planning to hit a mountain location (21%), a suburban area (20%), or a theme park (19%), and 16% plan to find themselves on a leisure/discovery vacation (e.g., spa, wine country, golf or other unique attraction).

  • Millennials are more likely than any other generation to be planning a downtown/center of a city vacation (40% vs. 27% Gen X, 28% Baby Boomers, & 26% Matures).
  • Not too surprisingly, adults with mini vacationers in tow have some differing preferences: those in households with children are more likely than those without to be planning a trip to a beach (52% with, 38% without) or theme park (31% with, 13% without) location.
  • It's unclear whether convenience is key or if there's just no such thing as too much fresh air, but those living in rural areas are more likely to be planning trips to a national/state park (35% rural vs. 22% urban & suburban).

Ups and downs of air travel 
It's well known that traveling by air isn't always smooth sailing. Nineteen percent of air travelers say they had at least one airline trip cancelled or severely disrupted by weather during the past winter, and 15% plan to take a vacation this summer to "make up" for one cancelled or affected by winter weather.

However, this certainly doesn't stop Americans from taking advantage of the ability to fly and some of these flyers might be in for a new in-flight experience. Recent rule changes now allow use of some electronics during takeoff and landing. Just over one-third (35%) of adults and air travelers alike agree this new rule makes them nervous.

Meanwhile, 38% of adults and 44% of air travelers want even more leeway, agreeing that airlines should allow passengers to use their mobile phones on flights. Not everyone agrees on this sentiment, however. Over half of adults (53%) and over six-in-ten air travelers (63%) agree the ban on cell phone calls on airplanes gives them a much-needed reprieve.

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