Americans Are Ready To Travel Again: Here’s How Much They Plan To Spend on Vacations This Year

Young woman and man traveling by plane during COVID 19, wearing N95 face masks, sitting on bench with take away coffee in airport waiting area.
izusek /

Many Americans put their vacation plans on hold in 2020 due to a combination of travel restrictions and feeling unsafe about traveling during a pandemic. But now with vaccines being administered steadily across the country, many people are ready to start traveling again — and they’re prepared to spend thousands on their next vacation.

Here’s a look at how Americans are planning travel in 2021, and how much they will spend doing it.

Most Americans Feel Optimistic About Traveling in 2021

A recent survey conducted by IPX 1031 found that 48% of Americans are optimistic about traveling this year, and an additional 25% are “somewhat” optimistic. In addition, 45% believe that travel will return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

The survey also found that most Americans — 58% — plan to travel in 2021. Many are already following through on those plans — 42% already have trips booked. Of those who do not plan to travel, the biggest reasons were not feeling safe due to the pandemic (80%) and not having the budget for it (44%).

Helpful: COVID-Safe Travel Plans To Make Now To Save Money

The Average Travel Budget Is Nearly $2,500

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For those who plan to travel this year, the average budget is $2,470, the survey found. This is a notable increase from 2020.

“We ran a similar survey last year and the average vacation budget for 2020 was $1,190,” said Collin Czarnecki, a spokesperson for IPX 1031. “Because of the increased optimism and the increase in vaccinations, I fully expect travel budgets to continue to increase for most Americans who can afford to travel in 2021.”

Read More: ‘Vaxications’ Are Bringing the Travel Industry Back to Life – But At What Cost?

And despite major job losses across the country, it seems like many Americans can afford to travel in 2021: The survey found that 70% of respondents can afford to travel this year. For those who were not able to afford travel at the time the survey was conducted, the latest round of stimulus checks may be able to help fund their next vacation. According to the survey, 36% of Americans would use their stimulus check toward their vacation budget.

Americans Are Still Wary About Having To Cancel Trips

Despite an overall sense of optimism when it comes to trip planning, of those who had booked a trip, 73% worried that they would have to cancel their trip due to a spike in cases. While cancellation policies have been largely flexible over the past few months, as interest in travel increases, hotels, airlines and tour operators may not be as flexible in the coming months — which means travelers should be extra cautious about ensuring they will not lose deposits if they do need to cancel.

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Find Out: What Travel Agents Say About Planning for Trips in 2021 and Beyond

Travel insurance seems to be a wise investment for travelers who are worried they might have to cancel or postpone a trip this year due to COVID-19 spikes,” Czarnecki said. “Our survey found that 58% of respondents said they purchased travelers insurance for their vacation in case they had to cancel or postpone. I would also recommend checking airline and lodging cancellation policies before booking.”

Americans Still Prefer Hotels to Airbnbs

Although staying in your own private accommodations are the more COVID-19-safe way to go, many Americans are opting for hotels when they travel. Most Americans — 28% — chose hotels as their most preferred accommodations. “With family” was the second-most-popular answer (21%) followed by short-term rentals such as Airbnbs and VRBOs (17%).

Consider: Are ‘Workcations’ the New Vacations?

As for which is the better deal, that likely depends on where you are traveling and how many people you are traveling with.

“I would recommend price shopping to see which is the better deal for the specific trip you are taking,” Czarnecki said. “I would also take into account the cancellation policy to see which accommodations charge a higher fee for adjusting or canceling your travel date.”

Most Americans Are Overdue for a Vacation

While it remains to be seen how much Americans will actually spend on travel in 2021, there certainly is a lot of pent-up demand for it. The survey found that 57% of Americans have gone a year or longer without taking a vacation and only 20% had traveled within the past six months.

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Last updated: April 5, 2021

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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