4 Top Trends to Watch During Peak Travel Season

With 48% of the country’s population vaccinated, travel experts say Americans are traveling more this summer—taking their first big trips since the start of the pandemic.

In fact, 92% of Americans will travel, or already have, in 2021, with more than half (52%) traveling this summer, according to the Priceline Work-Life Balance report.

Priceline looked at how travel has changed and what trends are emerging for the summer travel season. 

Trend #1: Escapism is top of mind

When it comes to air travel, hotel stays and car rentals, Americans are prioritizing warm, tropical and entertainment-focused destinations, such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, Mexico and Orlando. Florida is a traveler favorite right now. The Sunshine State dominates the top 10 destinations across all three categories with at least four cities on each list.

Trend #2: Local exploration matters 

When the pandemic took hold, flights came to a near screeching halt. According to round-trip flight bookings on Priceline.com, travelers flew 4 billion miles less in 2020 than they did in 2019. Not only did people fly less often, but they also did not travel as far. The average distance dropped by 20% in 2020 (1,307 miles), compared to the same period in 2019 (1,654 miles). This summer Americans are opting to explore locally, with 70% of car rentals used for road trips within their states, driving an average of 184 miles. Likewise, today’s travelers are booking hotel stays within their states 10% more than prior years.

Trend #3: Wallet-friendly stays abound in the South and West

Travel deals are more important than ever. This year, the average hotel stay costs under $125 per night in Las Vegas, Denver, Orlando and the Black Hills in South Dakota, which means you can enjoy a great getaway without blowing your budget.

Trend #4: Package deals enable workcations

The blurring of work-life boundaries gave rise to the “bleisure” trip or “workcation,” a hybrid of business and leisure travel. As flexible work schedules become a long-term possibility for many, these extended leisure-first trips, which incorporate remote work as part of the experience, will continue to drive booking preferences. 

As domestic tourism ramps up, you can expect to see a continued preference for beach getaways and entertainment, alongside an ongoing appreciation for local surroundings and an increased willingness to blend vacations with work.