Rising Costs, COVID-19 & Travel: What Will Summer Vacation Look Like in 2022?
After more than two years of limited travel due to COVID-19, many are eager to enjoy a summer vacation. According to MoneyGeek’s recent survey, 46% of people in the U.S. plan to take at least one trip. Even with climbing COVID-19 case numbers and soaring costs, summer travel seems to be a priority.
Here’s what MoneyGeek’s survey of 1,125 respondents found about travel plans for this year as they relate to the pandemic, spending habits and rising prices across the country.
- 46% of respondents who took a vacation last year expect to spend more on travel this summer. The average respondent planned to pay $1,000 per household member.
- Rising costs have already caused 39% of respondents to cancel or change their vacation plans. Another 36% indicated they would consider canceling their plans if prices continue to increase.
- Younger travelers are more price-sensitive, while older vacationers are more COVID-conscious. Millennials and Gen X were more likely to consider changing their summer plans due to increasing prices; older generations were more likely to cancel their vacations due to COVID-19 exposure or case surges.
- 51% of respondents plan to wear masks on planes, trains and other public transit while traveling. However, planned COVID-19 precautions vary significantly. For example, 46% of respondents indicated rising COVID-19 cases would make them consider canceling vacation, while 48% stated they wouldn’t cancel or change their plans after known exposure to the virus.
- On average, travelers plan to charge 57% of their vacation expenses to credit cards, and younger generations prefer to use credit card rewards to pay for these expenses. This year's most popular expected use of points is to cover hotel and lodging stays.
Despite Concerns, Summer Travel Is a Priority
Although the domestic travel industry saw a two-year loss of $755 billion through 2021, according to the U.S. Travel Association, the sentiment for 2022 is optimistic. This optimism is notable amidst rising inflation rates, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Could this be the return of summer travel post-COVID-19? MoneyGeek’s survey results indicated that 46% of U.S. adults planned to take at least one trip this year, and 37% planned to take two. Of those planning to take a trip this year, 8% didn’t travel last summer.
Older Generations Worried About COVID-19; Younger Generations, Costs
MoneyGeek’s survey results revealed some stark generational differences in summer travel concerns.
Throughout the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned that older, unvaccinated adults are at greater risk of hospitalization or death due to COVID-19. Consistent with this data, MoneyGeek survey results indicated that 51% of U.S. adults over the age of 57 would cancel or change their plans due to COVID-19 case surges. This percentage is higher for older adults than younger adults; among individuals younger than 57, only 45% reported that they would alter their travel plans because of increased COVID-19 cases.
MoneyGeek’s survey results also revealed that 46% of respondents expect to spend more on their vacation this year than last summer. But, as suggested by a recent Wells Fargo study on inflation, Millennials and Gen X are the hardest hit by rising prices.
This economic reality could explain why MoneyGeek’s survey indicates that 41% of respondents in each of these age groups would cancel or change their plans due to the increasing cost of travel, compared to just 30% of respondents aged 57 and older.
Overall, 36% of U.S. adults indicated they would consider canceling their vacation plans if prices continue to rise, and 39% said that rising costs had already caused them to cancel or change their plans. Rising gas prices were of concern to the highest percentage of respondents (40%), followed by airfare (28%) and lodging (15%) expenses.
COVID-19 Is Now a Reality of Travel
As the domestic leisure travel industry continues to recover, COVID-19 safety measures are a reality of travel. MoneyGeek’s survey results point out that 78% of U.S. adults will take some form of COVID-19-related precautions while traveling during the summer. But the way people plan to protect themselves varies greatly.
For example, 51% of respondents will wear a mask on planes, trains and buses — even if there are no mandates in place. Additionally, 41% will ensure they’re up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters before travel.
On the other hand, 22% of U.S. adults don’t plan to take any specific precautions while traveling this summer. Less than half of survey participants said they would change or cancel their plans after known COVID-19 exposure. These results come despite current CDC recommendations to quarantine and avoid travel for 5–10 days after close contact with someone who had COVID-19.
Amid Rising Costs, Credit Cards Are a Popular Tool to Finance Trips
Given the current economic situation, it’s perhaps unsurprising that most respondents (57%) planned to pay for some of their 2022 summer vacation costs with a credit card. For some, credit card rewards also offer the opportunity to afford rising travel expenses this year, though 38% of U.S. adults reported that they didn't plan to redeem credit card rewards for travel.
Younger generations seemed to utilize credit card rewards more frequently; in fact, MoneyGeek’s survey showed that 71% of Millennials and Gen Z plan to redeem credit card rewards and loyalty program points, compared to just 57% of Gen X respondents, 53% Boomer respondents and 47% of respondents aged 67 or older.
Hotel stays were the most popular credit card reward respondents planned to redeem during their summer vacations.
Using the right travel credit card can help you save money on your vacation costs. Depending on how often you travel, you may benefit from an airline rewards credit card that offers frequent flyer points or allows you to take advantage of cash back offers. If you’re looking for ways to save on your vacation, these are the nine best rewards credit cards you can use for travel.
Most respondents plan to redeem their points in exchange for hotel and lodging, while 28% will use rewards to help pay for airfare.
As people adapt the way they travel and the pandemic continues to evolve, these survey findings could suggest new industry trends. Even with ongoing inflation in the U.S., people are still interested in traveling, and credit cards could become an important tool to finance this year’s summer vacations.
MoneyGeek surveyed 1,125 planning on taking a vacation this summer, representative of gender, age and income demographics of the United States.
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics. "The Economics Daily." Accessed May 18, 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "COVID-19 Risks and Vaccine Information for Older Adults." Accessed May 20, 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Travel." Accessed May 20, 2022.
- U.S. Travel Association. "U.S. Travel Answer Sheet." Accessed May 17, 2022.
- Wells Fargo. "Inflation: Same Storm, Different Boats." Accessed May 18, 2022.