Summer Travel Trends: Where Travelers Are Going, What They’re Doing and How Much They’re Spending

French Bulldog sitting next to luggage

On May 15, 2023, Allianz Partners released its list of Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations. To rank each popular vacation spot, the travel insurance and assistance company compared more than 1.6 million flight itineraries for trips lasting five to eight days in length for travel booked between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. And, while advisors probably won’t be surprised to see fan favorites like Orlando and Hawaii topping the charts, they might be interested in which other trending destinations are on travelers’ summer 2023 wish lists.

Where They’re Going

Without further ado, the results for Allianz Partners’ Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations are as follows: 1) Orlando, 2) Seattle, 3) Honolulu, Oahu, 4) Boston, 5) Kahului, Maui, 6) New York, 7) Los Angeles, 8) Las Vegas, 9) Miami and 10) Denver.

As for international travel, Allianz Partners reported Cancun, San Jose del Cabo, Aruba, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Puerto Vallarta as trending destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, across the pond, in a May 10 press release, the company cited London, Paris, Dublin, Rome, Reykjavik, Edinburgh, Athens, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Milan as the most popular cities for 2023.

Interestingly, while conducting its annual Top 10 Summer European Destinations review, Allianz Partners found that Americans are traveling to Europe 55% more this summer compared to 2022. “Last year, we saw a major increase in American travel to Europe and this summer indicates even higher demand, so it’s more important than ever to plan for a busy summer travel season,” said Daniel Durazo, director of external communications for Allianz Partners USA.

Advisors are noticing the uptick in international travel too. “I am booking mostly Dubai, Israel, the Serengeti, Paris and Italy right now,” said Delia duPlessis, travel designer for Dream Destination Travel. Additionally, some advisors have seen an increased interest in multi-gen vacations. “People are booking more family and generational trips than before and spending a longer time with their families,” said duPlessis. “I hear clients talking about ‘more quality time, learning about what the other generations like when they travel, learning opportunities (like) visiting places where older generations grew up, exposure to new ideas and unwinding together’ when they make their bookings.”

Speaking of trends in the advisor world, a June 1 press release from the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) shared that 27% of member advisors stated more than half of their clients are working with a travel advisor for the first time. That means more travelers are seeking expert advice and turning to the pros to help them plan their next getaway. Interestingly, ASTA also shared that since rebranding to the “American Society of Travel Advisors” in 2018, 50% of member advisors have reported their clients are more likely to pay a professional fee ranging between $100 to $300 for research, consultation, planning, ticketing and flat fees.

Back on the destinations front, ASTA reported Europe, the Caribbean and Alaska as the top destinations advisors are selling right now. The top European countries booked by advisors according to ASTA are Italy, France and the United Kingdom. And, the top Caribbean Islands are the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos and Puerto Rico.

What They’re Doing

According to a June 12 survey from Allianz Partners USA, music and entertainment is the name of the game for summer travelers. In fact, of those surveyed, 60% of participants stated they were planning to visit a theater or attend a show, concert or music festival during their summer travels. Additionally, findings showed travelers are looking for a mix of indoor and outdoor entertainment in 2023 with 39% of travelers planning to attend a theater or show, 21% purchasing tickets for a concert or music festival and 17% planning a trip to a theme park or water park.

As for how they plan to get there, air travel is reigning supreme with 54% of respondents claiming flights as their ideal form of transportation followed by cruise ships at 11%, personal vehicles at 8%, rental vehicles at 3% and trains or buses at 3%. 20% of respondents stated they plan to use a mix of these forms of transportation.

When it comes to lodging, 41% of travelers are opting for a hotel or resort, 19% plan to stay with friends or family, 13% will be on a cruise ship, 7% are booking short-term rentals, 4% are visiting a personal vacation property and 1% are roughing it in an RV, tent or cabin.

What They’re Spending

The data doesn’t lie, Americans are spending big on summer getaways. So big in fact, that for the first time in Allianz Partners USA’s annual Vacation Confidence Index (VCI) history, U.S. travelers are expected to spend more than $200 billion on summer travel ($214,000,000,000 to be exact). This impressive figure is a 10% increase from 2022, a 31% increase from 2021 and a mind blowing 261% increase from 2020. But, if all that isn’t enough to knock your socks off perhaps this will put things into perspective, 2023 spending is expected to be a 111% increase from pre-pandemic spending in 2019.

According to VCI, the average American household is expected to spend $2,830 on their summer vacation making 2023 the fourth year where American spending will top $2,000 since the company started tracking consumers’ vacation spending habits in 2009.