Where Americans Plan to Go for Holidays

Leading travel site TripAdvisor has announced the results of its December holiday travel survey of more than 1,300 U.S. respondents.

Forty-five percent of travelers are planning to travel during the December holidays, up from 42 percent who did so last year.

Of those taking trips, 63 percent will travel for Christmas, 31 percent will do so for New Year’s and four percent will travel for Hanukkah. Sixty-one percent of travelers will visit family for the December holidays, and 23 percent will visit friends.

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While driving is the primary mode of transportation among those traveling for the December holidays this year (48 percent), fewer motorists plan to hit the road than in 2011 (52 percent).

Air travelers should expect longer lines at the airports as 46 percent among those traveling plan to fly to their destination, up from 42 percent last year.

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While airports will be bustling in late December, 62 percent acknowledged that sky-high airfares affected their holiday travel plans. Of those affected:

  • 51% – Booked their flight early
  • 29% – Will drive to their destination instead of fly
  • 5% – Still waiting for prices to come down

The economic outlook may be uncertain, however, 92 percent said the news of a “fiscal cliff” will not prevent them from packing their bags and overall spending will actually increase.

  • 42% will spend more on December holiday travel compared to 2011
  • 43% will spend the same on December holiday travel compared to last year
  • 15% will spend less on December holiday travel compared to last year

Among those traveling, 49 percent will spend $1,000 or more on their holiday travel and 31 percent will spend at least $2,000.

Forty-nine percent of travelers plan to stay at the home of family and friends, 42 percent plan to hole up in a hotel, and nine percent will unwind in a vacation rental.

The top U.S. cities travelers will visit during the December holidays, according to the survey:

  • New York City
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco

Forty-two percent of travelers report that they expect to be stressed by traveling this holiday season – here are the top three ways they plan to cope:

  • 40% – Will travel at off-peak hours
  • 20% – Will load their smartphone or tablet with music, games or movies
  • 14% – Will pay for accommodations rather than stay with friends or family

Twenty-seven percent cite airline delays and cancellations as the most frustrating part of traveling for the holidays, while 20 percent are most aggravated by inclement weather. The favorite holiday song to listen to while traveling is “White Christmas” and respondents named “Santa Baby” the most annoying holiday song to listen to while traveling.

Seventy-three percent say they have already begun travel planning for 2013.

“Despite the stresses of holiday travel, nearly half of U.S. respondents will face unafraid the plans that they made to celebrate the festive season with the ones they love,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications at TripAdvisor.

The survey results were released today, Dec. 11.

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