Top Travel Trends for the Next Year

Americans appear eager to pack their bags in the coming year, as 36 percent plan to spend more on leisure travel in 2011 than this year, while 42 percent expect to spend the same amount.

Ninety percent plan to take two or more leisure trips next year — a slight increase on the 89 percent who said they have done so in 2010.

While travelers named an increase in online travel deals as the best travel development of 2010 (39 percent), rising airfares (40 percent) and bedbugs (20 percent) are the top two travel concerns for 2011.

TripAdvisor, a leading travel site, today (Nov. 9) announced the results of its annual travel trends survey of more than 3,000 U.S. travelers.

The survey says 69 percent of travelers plan to take international trips next year, and of that group, 52 percent will travel to Europe, 13 percent will visit Asia and 12 percent will journey to South America.

The top three international destinations U.S. travelers plan to visit in 2011 are Paris, London and Rome.

And 75 percent of respondents plan to visit a U.S. city next year, with Las Vegas, New York City and San Francisco the most popular choices.

Vacation rentals will be a popular lodging choice in 2011, with 47 percent considering a stay in a vacation rental home – a significant increase compared to 39 percent one year ago.

Best and Worst in Travel for 2010 and the Past Decade

Best Travel Development of 2010:

  • More online travel deals – 39%
  • Cheaper hotel rates – 22%
  • More in-flight Wi-Fi Internet access on planes – 12%

Worst Travel Development of 2010:

  • Carry-on baggage fees – 69%
  • New hotel fees – 10%
  • TSA full body scanners – 10%

Best Travel Development of the Past Decade:

  • Online check-in – 26%
  • Candid traveler reviews – 16%
  • Increased options for online travel bookings – 16%

Worst Travel Development of the Past Decade:

  • More airline fees – 45%
  • Carry on restrictions for liquids, gels and aerosols – 19%
  • Longer security lines – 9%

Among the other findings, the TripAdvisor survey says:

  • Despite being fed up with airline fees, 24 percent of travelers plan to fly more next year, while 60 percent will fly the same amount.
  • Shelling-out for in-flight extras is becoming second nature to travelers, with 77 percent expecting to do so in 2011 – up from 72 percent one year ago.
  • In-flight manners leave much to be desired, with the top flyer faux pas revealed to be people kicking the seat back (28 percent). Rude seat recliners (20 percent) and passengers sneezing or coughing without covering their mouths (18 percent) further aggravate travelers.
  • 27 percent would pay to sit in a child-free section of an airplane, while 19 percent would pay to sit in a quiet section, should such an option ever exist.
  • 65 percent think passengers of size should be required to pay for an extra seat on an airline when necessary. 

Popular Pursuits and Eco-Traveling in 2011

Top Five Vacation Activities for Next Year:

  • Visiting an historic site – 85%
  • Visiting a museum – 73%
  • Visiting a national park – 46%
  • Attending a festival – 43%
  • Hiking – 42%

Further popular pursuits among travelers for the year ahead include water activities (38 percent), visiting a spa (33 percent) and gambling (29 percent).

When asked what travel activities they might try for the first time in 2011, 11 percent chose a cruise, while 11 percent are also considering taking an educational course on vacation.

And 47 percent will take eco-friendly factors in to consideration, such as their carbon footprint or “green” hotel policies, when making travel plans in 2011.

Also, 20 percent expect to be more environmentally conscious in their travel decision and choices next year.

Moreover, the survey reveals technological advances in 2010 have led to 59 percent of travelers in employment being more connected to work than ever on leisure trips this year.

And 69 percent connect with work while on leisure trips, while 16 percent confess that work always or often impacts their vacations.

62 percent check their work e-mail on leisure trips, while 13 percent call the office to check-in.

Eight percent admit to considering the remoteness of their destination, specifically to avoid connecting with work.

And 90 percent of travelers also connect with home on their leisure travels – but just 26 percent send postcards, instead favoring modern-day technology, including e-mail (74 percent), text messages (40 percent) and social networking sites (28 percent).

When it comes to booking hotels, travelers are significantly less brand loyal than one year ago, with 39 percent of travelers now faithful to one name – a significant drop from 59 percent in 2010.

96 percent believe that U.S. hotels offer room for improvement in 2011, with higher standards of cleanliness topping travelers’ wish-lists (22 percent).

Of those who have stayed in international hotels, 90 percent believe these could be bettered next year, with wider availability of free internet access the most-wanted enhancement (20 percent).

“With over a third of travelers revealing that they start planning their vacations more than six months before a trip, many Americans are already eagerly anticipating some terrific travel adventures for 2011,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman