One in five Gen Z travellers plan a “soul-searching” trip this summer while others stick to staycations

Gen Z travellers in America are planning to “soul-search” on holiday while others reimagine summer through road trips and staycations as inflation impacts the majority of travel plans

Gen Z travellers may have more fun than everyone else this summer, with one in five saying they plan to find themselves by splurging on a “soul-searching” trip (21%), traveling abroad (20%), or packing their bags for a romantic getaway (24%), according to new research from Empower, a leader in financial planning, investing and advice.

Not so fast, according to 41% of Americans who won’t travel this summer, with 20% saying they can’t afford to go on vacation (including women 24% and men 15%).

Almost nine in ten Americans (88%) say inflation has cooled their summer plans, causing people to save up for longer and plan fewer getaways or shorter trips.

To fund their holiays, Gen Z travellers are trimming back on hair and nail appointments (24%) and cancelling streaming subscriptions (18%). While nearly a third (31%) of Gen Z travellers and 26% of Millennials are turning to a side gig to save more for their soulstice.

One in five Americans (19%) say they’re planning trips within driving distance. In May, monthly spend on gas ($193) has declined nearly 23% as compared to last year ($252), according to Empower Personal Dashboard data.

More key findings:

  • The tradeoff for a trip: To save up for vacation, 37% of Americans have reduced the amount they eat out, 21% are cutting back on premium purchases such as furniture and clothes, 19% are passing on attending local concerts or the theatre, and 18% have slashed beauty services (22% for Millennials). Some 30% have tapped into a savings account or rainy-day fund.
  • Unpacking the price: More than half of Americans who are planning on travelling this summer – including Gen Z travellers – are capping their spend at $500 for flights and transportation (52%), food (55%) and activities (51%). Nearly a third (31%) plan to splurge on lodging, spending more than $1,000 for their hotel or Airbnb stay. A quarter of respondents planning to vacation are willing to dish out between $500 -$1,000 for food (26%) and experiences (25%). See ya, souvenirs: Just 33% expect to spend more than $500 on shopping during their trip.
  • Favourite travel companions: 42% of Americans plan to visit family and friends this summer, which trumps sightseeing (24%) and concerts or festivals (22%). Some 35% plan to spend on family-friendly activities or outdoor adventures (28%).

Paying for a vacation often requires planning ahead, and nearly a third of Americans (30%) traveling this summer say they create a monthly budget to save up for the season’s adventures. Lacey Cobb, CFA, CFP and director of advice solutions for Empower, recommends automating savings into a designated travel fund.

“The easiest way is to have a portion of your pay check automatically set up to go toward savings. One method is a high-yield cash account with contributions every month,” Ms Cobb says.

Flexibility can be the ticket when budgeting for a vacation, including for Gen Z travelelrs.

“Popular tourist destinations tend to be more expensive, so look for off the beaten path destinations or where the US dollar is strong relative to the local currency, if traveling abroad,” Ms Cobb adds.

“Ultimately, the more flexible you are with your plans, the easier it is to vacation on a budget. Traveling during the off-season and booking flights mid-week will help bring down costs. You can find wildly different prices just by tweaking your arrival or departure days ever so slightly.”

For those who have set a goal to take a vacation this summer, the Empower Personal Dashboard offers to help track spending and progress toward them using its free financial dashboard.

Empower’s report is based on survey responses conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Empower from May 19 to May 21, 2023, surveying 2,201 Americans ages 18 and over, as well as data from the Empower Personal Dashboardä.

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