How Many Americans Are Traveling This Holiday Season — and How Much They're Spending

According to new data from PricewaterhouseCoopers, nearly 47% of Americans will travel this holiday season, despite concerns over flight cancellations and rising travel costs.

Welcome to Las Vegas sign attraction with tourist crowd

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Travelers are eager to hit the road this holiday season. After two challenging years of travel bans, restrictions, and lockdowns, more people are making big travel plans despite financial concerns, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The company just released its annual Holiday Outlook 2022 report, showing a significant bump from the roughly one-third of people traveling for the holidays in 2019.

"Leisure travel is more than back. It's exceeding in many cases pre-pandemic levels," Jonathan Kletzel, PwC U.S. airline and travel practice leader, told Travel + Leisure, noting that 47% of survey respondents indicated they plan to travel over the holiday break. Kletzel explained that almost half of those, or 46%, plan to do so by plane, up from 40% in 2021 and 33% in 2020. However, according to PwC's report, most Americans, or 69%, will be hitting the road, and many will end up using a combination of air and road travel to reach their final destinations.

"Domestic [travel] continues to be strong. We are seeing a shift back to the big cities and the big vacation spots like Las Vegas and Orlando," Kletzel added. He pointed out that travel demand for Europe, the Caribbean, and South America is also improving.

PwC experts explain the surge in travel interest in three ways: travelers are finally ready to reschedule trips planned for the height of the pandemic, the popularity of the digital nomad lifestyle, and "revenge travel" — a.k.a. the pent-up demand for travel.

"Expect that a lot of that 'revenge travel' will continue for at least one full year post-travel recovery," Kletzel said.

Despite the large numbers traveling this holiday season, people still worry about the high costs associated with travel. Rising gas prices are a top cause of concern for a whopping 74% of respondents, rising travel costs for 68%, and surging hotel prices for 58%.

"Pricing in both airlines and hotels is really a supply and demand question," Kletzel said. "On the air side, what you're seeing is a big mismatch between supply and demand. The airlines have not been able to add capacity back fast enough to account for the demand that they've seen largely from leisure travelers [and] are able to charge more money per flight."

Another major concern is the record flight cancelations, which are expected to continue into the holiday season, especially with weather disruptions more likely to occur during the colder months. "If you are worried about a cancellation, there are two things you should be thinking about: trip insurance and having an alternate plan for travel," Kletzel suggested.

The report also looked at who the big spenders will be this holiday season. The results show that millennials are most likely to take a trip — and spend the most on it. Those between the ages of 26 and 40 plan to allocate an average of $623 for travel, compared to the $523 Gen Xers (ages 41 to 55) will spend.

And finally, online booking sites remain the most popular way to book a trip, with 45% of travelers planning to use them this holiday season.

Read more about PwC's findings here.

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