Another Summer of ‘Staycations’

Last summer, high gas prices pushed the term “staycation” into common parlance. Now, though gas prices are about half what they were last summer, the recession is cramping Americans’ vacation plans. In a Harris Interactive poll released last month, based on February fieldwork, 40 percent of respondents who engaged in leisure travel in the past year said the economy will prompt them to spend less on that activity in the next 12 months.

These economizers were asked to specify the kinds of cutbacks they expect to make. Sixty-two percent said they’ll seek less-expensive accommodations, and 61 percent said they’ll look for less-expensive meal options. Among other modes of economizing: finding less-expensive activities (58 percent), vacationing closer to home (48 percent), staying with family/friends instead of at hotels (46 percent), driving instead of flying (45 percent), cooking their own meals (38 percent) and taking a “staycation” (34 percent).

As they back off from lengthy trips, are people planning more weekend jaunts? Alas, no. Thirty-one percent said they’ll take fewer weekend trips in the next 12 months, vs.10 percent saying they’ll take more. Still, respondents were far from unanimous in saying they’d cut back on their leisure travel. Thirty-eight percent said the economy will have “no impact on my likelihood to travel,” while a venturesome 8 percent said they expect to increase their leisure travel.