Here’s Why So Many Americans Are Skipping Out on Holiday Travel This Year

Father and son traveling by plane.
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Americans who live apart from family and friends are in for a more expensive holiday season this year as the effects of inflation are leading to unpredictable flight and hotel costs. Those who are still traveling are facing prices that mirror summer travel costs — and in some cases are even higher — and many Americans are postponing or adjusting their travel plans in lieu of a cheaper option. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by GOBankingRates, 42% of Americans won’t be traveling for the holidays this year.

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Here’s a look at why so many Americans will be staying close to home this holiday season, plus insights from travel experts on how to save on travel this winter for those who will be going out of town.

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16% of Americans Are Changing Their Holiday Travel Plans Due To Rising Costs

Unfortunately, the twinkling lights and delicious foods the holiday season brings are unable to cure the rising costs of traveling this winter. According to the GOBankingRates survey, 51% of Americans have noticed rising prices for travel this year. While it is not unusual for travel costs to rise a bit during the holiday season, this year’s inflation is making the extra fees more apparent than ever.

According to the survey, 16% of Americans are changing their holiday travel plans due to rising costs. Younger Americans are making the most adjustments to their travel plans as 20% of those who responded that they were skipping out on traveling for the holidays are ages 25 to 34.

Additionally, many Americans may be opting out of travel plans because they are unable to take time off work during the holidays. According to the survey, 46% of Americans take off whatever days their company gives them, which can make it fairly tough to travel and plan any excursions.

As some Americans are unable to keep their traditional travel plans, many are looking for creative alternatives to save money without sacrificing adventure altogether. Let’s take a look at some travel alternatives you might want to consider this year.

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Be Open To Other Travel Options

Although flying to New York every winter to visit your parents may be a tradition, missing out on the trip doesn’t mean you can’t travel altogether. Try to keep an open mind and stay open to other travel options.

“It’s not necessary to always travel in the same manner as you have in the past,” said Jenny Ly, founder at Go Wanderly. “Being creatures of habit, we frequently follow the same routine routes to travel from point A to point B even when other options may be quicker, more affordable or more effective.”

Opt For a Road Trip Instead of a Flight

While the decision to turn your holiday travel into a road trip may be dependent on your destination and whether a road trip is an option for getting there, it is certainly a cheaper alternative.

If you don’t mind sitting in the car for a few hours, opting for a road trip instead of a flight is a great way to save some money. According to AAA, gas prices are on the decline as the national average pump price is $3.79 per gallon, a generous drop from the $5+ average we saw this summer. On the other hand, jet fuel prices still haven’t declined, as they are over 90% higher than they were in 2019, and the high prices of flights today are reflecting this increase.

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For shorter trips, going by car instead of by plane will allow you to save money while still enjoying some holiday travel.

Avoid the Most Popular Travel Dates

Save money on your holiday travel by avoiding flying during the days leading up to and immediately after the popular winter holidays. Instead, opt to travel a week or two before or after. Flights will the cheaper, the airport will be a little less chaotic and you can still visit family and keep your holiday traditions without the extra headache.

Examine Your Credit Card Options

If you are an avid travel credit card user, you might be able to enjoy some travel benefits that can make travel easier around the holidays, help you earn points and allow you to travel for less.

“If you spend a particular amount during the first few months of obtaining a credit card, many credit card companies will give you additional benefits,” Ly said. “If you’re already planning to shell out, you may as well get a benefit where you can. You may also get benefits that cut down on your travel headaches. Numerous credit cards for travel provide bonus points when you make trip arrangements, annual statement credits for travel expenditures, or reimbursement for the cost of services that help you breeze through airport security more quickly or easily, like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.”

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,025 Americans ages 18 and older from across the country between Oct. 17 and Oct. 21, 2022, asking 18 different questions: (1) Do you plan on spending more or less on holiday shopping this year?; (2) With the current state of inflation, how much more do you expect to spend on holiday shopping this year?; (3) What is your favorite place to shop for the holidays?; (4) Do you have to change any of the following holiday traditions this year due to rising costs?; (5) Where do you do the majority of your holiday shopping?; (6) How much do sales factor into your holiday shopping?; (7) How much time do you take off from work during the holidays?; (8) How much would you typically spend on a gift for a family member?; (9) How much would you typically spend on a gift for a friend?; (10) Where have you noticed rising prices for holiday shopping/expenses this year? (Select all that apply); (11) When did you start or plan to start your holiday shopping this year?; (12) As the holiday season approaches, which of the following applies to you?; (13) How much do you plan to spend exclusively on gifts this holiday season?; (14) How much do you plan to spend on travel during the holidays?; (15) Who do you tip for the holiday season?; (16) Do you tip extra to service workers (food delivery, Uber, hairdresser, etc.) during the holidays?; (17) What is the primary way you plan on paying for your holiday spending?; and (18) What holiday purchases do you make at the dollar store? (Select all that apply). GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack writing about finances for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.
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