Chicago (June 30, 2009)—The great American road trip is back. After years of extravagant, keep-up-with-the-Jones’ trips, more people are strapping down and simplifying their vacations because of the economy.
With the holiday weekend approaching, a new Mintel survey reveals over six in 10 people drove their own car—instead of flying—to their last vacation destination. And they didn’t go anywhere overly glamorous: 62% said they spent recent vacations with family and friends. Only 30% went to beaches and 30% visited cities. In 2007 when the economy was stronger, fewer people reported vacationing with family and friends (56%), while a full 42% went to cities.
Once at vacation destinations, two in five people (42%) said they lodged with friends or relatives. Just over half (51%) stayed in a hotel, but that pales in comparison to the 80% that said they stayed in hotels in 2007. Mintel’s recent survey also reveals people vacationing closer to home (57%), taking shorter trips (56%) and utilizing cheaper forms of transportation (64%) because of the economic downturn.
“The recession is undoubtedly making more Americans shop aggressively for travel deals and cut corners,” states Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel. “As people try to save money, we see a rising trend towards simpler, more ‘homespun’ vacations. We’ve even seen an increase in zoo and local theme park attendance. People can justify shorter trips with fewer excesses, as long as they still have the opportunity to relax and have fun.”
Mintel’s survey points to relaxation as the number one goal of vacationers: nearly three in four (72%) said they consider being able to relax completely as an essential vacation element. On the contrary, only one in three (34%) rank a “high standard of accommodation and facilities” as essential to their enjoyment.
In the past 12 months, 40% of survey respondents didn’t travel domestically; many cited financial reasons.

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