NC Ranks in top 10 summer travel destinations

NEW YORK,  May 6, 2011 — More Americans are planning to travel this summer despite rising gas prices, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker (59 percent in 2011 vs. 51 percent in 2010). Vacationing consumers plan to take an average of two week-long vacations, spending an average of $1,200 per person, and three weekend-getaways with an average spend of $300 per weekend.

“Staycations, popularized during the recession, are falling to the wayside as consumers go beachside instead,” said Claire Bennett, senior vice president and general manager of American Express Travel. “Most Americans will be enjoying their summer away from home this year with many planning multiple vacations. This is terrific news for the travel industry.”

Family vacations are making a big comeback this year. Nearly 70 percent of those with travel plans say they’ll travel with their immediate families, up from 45 percent in 2010. Among those who are planning to take summer vacations with their families, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) will take one or more weeklong trips, with an average of two weeklong trips this summer.

The latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker(1) explores consumers’ spending and saving behavior as it relates to summer travel. The research sample of 2,025 adults included the general U.S. population, as well as two subgroups – the affluent(2) and young professionals(3).

Weekend Getaway Top Travel Desire
Americans with travel plans prefer quick getaways this summer to weeklong vacations (68 percent vs. 63 percent). Girlfriend getaways and “man”cations are on the rise compared to 2010 (15 percent compared to 10 percent).

More than 40 percent of consumers said that getting a good deal on hotels, rental cars, flights, etc. is the most important factor in planning where they go for weekend getaways. Many also cited that they choose destinations based on where friends, family or significant others have decided (32 percent), diversity of activities (31 percent) and accessibility to a beach (29 percent).

Visiting a beach or lake is the top activity for Americans during a weekend getaway (42 percent). Other activities include shopping (33 percent), attending family or school reunions (23 percent), partaking in learning activities (22 percent), going to waterparks (22 percent) and camping (22 percent).

Top Travel Destinations Revealed
Many consumers are planning to stay within the U.S. when traveling this summer, with southern U.S. states topping the list. For those traveling outside of the U.S., the Bahamas and Canada are tied as the top destinations.

Top 10 U.S. Destinations
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Top Foreign Destinations
United Kingdom

Cutting Vacation Costs
To make summer vacations more affordable this year, consumers are willing to sacrifice to save. More than eight in 10 note that they have specific strategies to reduce their vacation costs (88 percent) as they prepare for their summer getaways. These include driving instead of flying (38 percent) and choosing less expensive destinations (24 percent).

Nearly 60 percent of Americans with travel plans will make everyday trade-offs to afford their summer vacations such as spending less on:

  • Dining out (38 percent)
  • Clothing (30 percent)
  • Home improvements (25 percent)
  • Entertaining or going out with friends (24 percent)
  • Pampering at spa or salon (20 percent)
  • Gadget/tech purchases (18 percent)

American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 2,025 consumers aged 18+. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between April 18 and April 21, 2011. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, please visit

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(1) The research was conducted online April 18-21, 2011 among a random sample of 2,025 adults aged 18 and older.
(2) Affluent – defined as having a minimum annual household income of $100,000.
(3) Young Professional – defined as less than 30 years of age, having a college degree, and a minimum annual household income of $50,000.