By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
After over two years of an unprecedented pandemic, Americans report that gas prices and inflation will impact their summer travel decisions more than concerns about COVID-19, according to a recent survey.
Memorial Day weekend for most of us marks the unofficial beginning of summer travel/vacation season; traditionally a busy time for the hospitality industry.
In 2022, nearly seven in ten Americans (69%) report being likely to travel this summer, with 60% saying they are likely to take more vacations this year compared to 2020-21.
The “B” word: Budget
To no one’s surprise, gas prices and inflation are impacting Americans’ travel plans in a variety of predictable ways. Most of those polled say they are likely to take fewer leisure trips (57%) and shorter trips (54%) due to current gas prices. 44% are likely to postpone trips, and 33% are likely to cancel with no plans to reschedule. 82% say gas prices will have at least some impact on their travel plans and destinations.
Money talks, but inflation screams
Everything costs more than it did. Especially when we travel.
90% of us say gas prices are a consideration in deciding whether to travel in the next three months (50% major consideration, 23% moderate consideration, 17% slight consideration, 10% not a consideration).
And when it comes to accommodations, 90% say inflation is a consideration in deciding whether to travel in the next three months (39% major consideration, 31% moderate consideration, 20% slight consideration, 10% not a consideration).
And COVID just won’t go away
Even though COVID related restrictions and guidelines have been reduced or even eliminated, COVID is still a factor for many of us in the summer of 2022.
78% of Americans say that COVID-19 infection rates are a consideration in deciding whether to travel this summer (33% major consideration, 23% moderate consideration, 22% slight consideration, 22% not a consideration).
Staycations, here we come
Many of us live our whole lives without really exploring their own town. Out-of-towners marvel at a rush to see key historic places, urban or natural destinations, while many of us locals avoid them all together.
Staycation fun and discoveries can sometimes come down to acting like a tourist in your own city. Or neighborhood. Summer in particular is packed with farmers markets, outdoor concerts, games, block parties and seasonal festivities of all kinds.
When I am at an airport or hotel, I like to grab tourist brochures and magazines for the place I call home. It is always a revelation to look at a place I think I know through the eyes of a visitor.
Do you find that you need another vacation after your last vacation? Sometimes a staycation just means taking a moment – or more – to yourself, rather than rushing off to museums, sightseeing, or any planned event.
Act like a tourist at home
Look up and visit local galleries, museums, events, concerts and commemorative displays to learn more about the life, arts, crafts and history around you.
My social media screen is packed with photos taken by friends in exotic and distant places.
I’d like to fill my social media with rarely appreciated local places, events or perspectives – maybe some odd angle or even an unexpected time of day.
For a new, and probably more focussed time, put your phone away, or switch it to airplane mode.
Delete your messaging app, email updates or social media alerts for the duration of your staycation.
According to a recent survey, more than 20% of American adults felt stressed during their time off.
Don’t do that! Sometimes I even do the unthinkable – I deliberately leave my phone at home. I have learned that sometimes what I most need is time purely in the moment; no phone, no camera, nothing except what is in front of me.
Or you could do something even more extreme and budget friendly – read that book you been putting off.
Or call that old friend, or family member.
Or just go for a meandering walk around your own neighborhood.
Leave the social media postings to those who need to post pictures of themselves in front of the usual monuments and tourist sites.
You could be one of a thousand visitors at a popular site or you could be the one high point of the day for that person you know that would like a visitor.
I know too many people who travel thousands of miles but barely know their neighbors. There’s something remarkable (and inflation-proof) about those passing conversations with those in your own neighborhood.
No price can be put on those casual interactions where we don’t have to introduce or explain ourselves.
We just belong.
And we don’t have a connecting flight to catch.