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Four Surprising Travel Trends in 2019

senior couple camping on mountainside
Allianz - senior couple camping on mountainside

We’re spending more on our summer vacations — but we’re taking shorter trips.

We’d be willing to take a job with no paid time off if we got a higher salary — but we’d also sacrifice some pay in exchange for unlimited vacation.

We know it’s important to take a week’s vacation every year — but many of us have gone two years without a real vacation.

These surprising trends emerged in the 11th annual Vacation Confidence Index survey conducted on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance. How closely do your vacation habits align with the rest of America?

Travel Trend #1: Taking Micro-cations

The average American worker who has paid vacation gets 10 days per year. About a quarter of workers receive no paid time off at all. Considering these numbers, it’s no surprise that long vacations are becoming rarer.

Instead, people are planning more micro-cations of four nights or less. More than half (57%) of Americans didn’t take a leisure trip longer than four nights in the past year. This trend is most pronounced among millennials; 72% took at least one micro-cation in the past year.

The advantages of short vacations are obvious. You spend less. It’s easier to escape work. And you feel like you’re maximizing your vacation time by combining one or two days off with a weekend.

There are drawbacks too. It’s tough to fully decompress from work during a short break, and you’re limited to destinations within a small radius of your home. Nevertheless, we believe that a micro-vacation is better than no vacation at all! When planning your year of short vacations, consider purchasing annual travel insurance. It’s a simple, affordable way to ensure that every trip is protected, whether it’s a weekend getaway, a business trip or a quick jaunt overseas.

Read more: The 6-Step Plan to Maximizing Your Vacation Time

Travel Trend #2: Big Summer Spending

How much is a week at the beach worth to you? In 2019, Americans' average summer vacation spending exceeded $2,000 for the first time in a decade. The total planned summer vacation spending? A record $101.7 billion.

This increase isn’t happening because everyone’s suddenly splurging on oceanview rooms. Travel prices worldwide are rising due to a growing global economy and rising oil prices, according to the Global Travel Forecast from the Global Business Travel Association and Carlson Family Foundation.

If you’re struggling with rising travel costs, don’t give up on your vacation! Try our five-step plan for traveling on a budget. And when you do travel, protect your hard-won vacation with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation benefits, to reimburse you for your nonrefundable trip costs if you have to cancel for a covered reason.

Travel Trend #3: Skipping the Trip

Fully 28% of all Americans say they’ve taken no leisure trips — short or long — in the past year. Baby Boomers are the most likely to do this, with 35 percent saying they took zero trips for fun.

True vacations — that is, a leisure trip of at least a week to a destination that is 100 miles or more from home — are even more rare. Thirty-six percent of Americans took their last vacation more than two years ago, and over half (51%) have not vacationed in more than a year.

For most people, it comes down to money. Two-thirds of the people who didn’t think they’d take a summer vacation in 2019 said it was because of financial reasons. Either they don't have the money to spend (44%), or they don’t want to spend their money on a vacation (19%).

People aged 18 – 34 are more likely to cite another reason: They just can’t take time off work. But remember, your paid vacation days are part of your compensation, and it’s important to use them. We like this advice from workplace expert Alison Green: “If you’re in a job where it seems like there’s never a good time to be away, stop waiting for the right time, which may never come, and just make plans. Even if you don’t have the time, money, or inclination to travel, there’s real value in taking a week off to stay at home, binge-watch Netflix, and clean the garage—and consider telling colleagues you’ll likely be out of cell range most of the time and won’t be checking email or answering calls.”

Travel Trend #4: Choosing Money Over More Time Off

How important is paid vacation, anyway? That’s an issue that sharply divides Americans. In the Vacation Confidence Index, half of the people surveyed said they’d accept a job with no paid time off for a higher salary. But it’s got to be a lot higher: on average, people would require a 48 percent raise for the tradeoff. Sixteen percent said they’d need to double their salary to take this offer.

On the flip side, one in three Americans would sacrifice part of their paycheck for unlimited vacation. On average, they’re willing to take a 26% pay cut in exchange for the privilege.

Unlimited vacation sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? In truth, it doesn’t always work. In many cases, research has found, the policy actually discourages employees from taking time off. Plus, you can’t accrue earned vacation days over time, or cash them out when you leave.1

Whether you’re heading out for a two-week cruise or an itty-bitty micro-cation, protect your time off with travel insurance! Allianz Global Assistance has options for every budget and destination. Find the perfect plan for your vacation.

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