Nearly two-thirds of Americans say an annual vacation is important to them, but 40 percent are not confident they’ll actually take one in 2016.
On the plus side, projected spending is up. The average American household that is at least somewhat confident they will take a vacation this summer will spend $1798 on average, up roughly 11 percent from last year’s average of $1621 per household.
Those are a few of the findings from the annual Vacation Confidence Index produced by Allianz Global Assistance USA. Since the group Public Affairs has been conducting the survey since 2010, they are able to track travel confidence changes over time, not all of them making sense given the lower unemployment rate, higher household spending, and a strong U.S. dollar.
Allianz Travel Insurance’s Vacation Confidence Index also found an increase in the Vacation Deficit, or percentage of Americans who think that a vacation is important but are not confident they’ll be able to take one. In 2016, 22 percent of Americans who say an annual vacation is important to them are not confident that they’ll take a vacation, compared to 19 percent in 2015, representing a Vacation Deficit increase of three points, the first increase since dropping five points between 2013 and 2015.
Americans are facing a Vacation Deficit for summer specific travel as well: one in three (34 percent) Americans are not confident that they’ll take a summer vacation this year, an increase in three points over 2015. 43 percent are confident (32 percent very/11 percent somewhat) that they’ll get a summer vacation this year, down from 46 percent last year, which was the highest figure recorded since 2010.
So what’s going on? Why is there still a reluctance to take time off, even when it’s contractually owed to them? Why would people stay home in a year where the strong dollar is creating such travel values abroad and gas is so cheap domestically?
You’ll need to look into other research to find the thinking behind the inaction, but there are a lot of factors. Companies have eliminated all redundancy in the workforce, meaning there’s nobody to pick up the slack when someone with a key position is away. Those who don’t have confidence in their prospects outside their current job are afraid to look like a slacker. Some are so over-extended on their house, car, boat, and electronics that travel keeps getting pushed further down the list. Then add fears of terrorism, exotic-sounded diseases, and political unrest to the mix and it makes some want to stick to the familiar—even if that familiar is really more dangerous than where they would be headed.
We imagine there’s a little lag to these vacation confidence surveys as well: it takes many Americans a year or two of better times before they feel safe about spending more money on experiences rather than spending on more stuff to put in the garage. We’re so conditioned to be consumers of shiny objects that it takes a leap to spend on family/couple time in a new environment instead. We’ll hope that as the U.S. economy continues on its path of improvement, the Vacation Confidence Index will rise. Meanwhile, get that travel insurance policy before taking off to remove some of the risk from the trip.
Thanks to our partner Allianz for sponsoring this post, providing travel coverage for the unexpected. Luxury Latin America received financial compensation from Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) as part of a broader marketing package but all opinions are our own.