Summer vacation, all I ever wanted (but can’t afford)
Summer vacation, all I ever wanted (but can’t afford)
03 MAY 2019 7:56 AM

A new study shows many Americans won’t be taking a summer vacation this year because they believe they can’t afford it, and that’s a problem.

It’s a time-honored tradition to take a summer vacation. Similarly, it’s a time-honored tradition to not take a summer vacation because you can’t afford it.

In a new survey released by Bankrate, 52% of American respondents said they are planning to take a summer vacation. Twenty-six percent, however, are not making any summer travel plans, and 60% of those said they aren’t traveling because it’s too expensive. The two most common factors for those who can’t afford a summer vacation cited their day-to-day bills (44%) and trying to pay down debt (22%).

In breaking down the age demographics, the survey reports Gen Xers, at 74%, were the most likely to say they couldn’t afford it as to why they weren’t vacationing. Baby boomers, at 20%, and the silent generation, at 48%, were the most likely to cite age and health issues as a reason for not vacationing. Millennials ages 23 to 29 were most likely, at 29%, to say they just weren’t interested in a summer vacation.

That’s a problem, don’t you think? You might be tempted to say that it’s not too big a deal seeing as at least half of U.S. adults are planning to take a vacation, but further research found most Americans aren’t using their paid time off. Only 38% of those surveyed said they would use all of their paid vacation days this year. In fact, only 59% with paid vacation time said they would use at least half of it. So it sounds like those who are taking summer vacations aren’t taking long trips.

According to the same survey, those taking a vacation expect to spend, on average, $1,979 on all related expenses. Those living on the East and West coasts will spend more than those living in the South and the Midwest. That sounds like the amount a family would spend on one trip.

The economy continues to do well, but there are some warning signs out there. The GDP grew by 3.2% during the first quarter, but consumer spending grew by 1.2% and “business investments cooled,” according to Bloomberg. Similarly, wages grew by 0.7% during the first quarter, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Vacations are great, but when it comes down to it, people aren’t going to spend a lot of time or money on what’s seen as a luxury when wage growth has only recently returned. While unemployment is low, wages haven’t grown at the same pace they did during two other periods of low unemployment, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Great Recession really did a number on all of us. We’re 10 or so years into the recovery, but people generally haven’t recovered. Not only did we lose out on potential earnings over the years, we’ve had this shadow looming over our shoulders the entire time, making us think another one is just around the corner. For those who were just entering the workforce at that time, this is the only experience they have, and it creates a lasting mindset.

There’s not much the hotel industry can do to change this mindset—though it could certainly help when it comes to what it pays its employees—but it’s certainly useful to know where people’s heads are as they make their plans for the summer. Knowing what people are and aren’t willing to spend their money on can help shape hoteliers’ strategies moving forward.

What are you seeing in your summer forecasts? What’s going to make people open their wallets to go on a trip and actually spend? Leave a comment below or reach out to me at or @HNN_Bryan.

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