AUSTIN, Texas – With nearly a quarter of Americans expected to hit the road and take to the skies this holiday season, many travelers are hoping Santa brings “joy to their world” in the form of lower travel costs. According to “HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report,” the top three wishes of holiday travelers are cheaper airfares (27 percent), lower gas prices (20 percent) and more affordable accommodations (15 percent).
According to the survey, 28 percent of Americans who vacation on holidays throughout the year say they spend more money on travel arrangements for Christmas than any other holiday. Fifteen percent say Independence Day is the costliest travel holiday; 11 percent say Thanksgiving; and 5 percent name New Year’s as the priciest.
Given the expenses associated with traveling during the holidays, many travelers are willing to endure inconveniences to save a little money.
Of those who are willing to put up with some hassles, 38 percent report they’ll take an alternative form of transportation rather than fly to their destination. Other money-saving strategies include:
Flying at unfavorable hours to get a better airfare (21 percent)
Meeting family before or after the holiday rather than traveling during the peak period (20 percent)
Traveling on the holiday itself instead of flying in beforehand (17 percent)
Opting for flights with multiple connections (12 percent)
Driving to a larger airport hub rather than flying out of a closer airport (12 percent)
Cramming the entire family into a single hotel room instead of booking multiple rooms (7 percent)
“Traveling over the Christmas holiday can be stressful and expensive, but there are ways to stretch your travel budget that don’t involve major inconveniences,” says Brian Sharples, chief executive officer of HomeAway. “Since high gas prices and airfares aren’t likely to go away soon, it makes sense to get the most for your money with accommodations. Vacation rentals offer more for less money than hotels, and they provide a comfortable, home-like experience that’s perfect for celebrating the holidays with family and friends.”
Making a List and Checking it Twice: Who’s Been Naughty and Nice in the Travel Industry
Whether it’s the airline gate agent who makes a traveler check their bag at the last minute or the airport security guard who requires a traveler to undergo additional screening, travel industry personnel often can make or break a holiday travel experience. But surprisingly, the HomeAway report found that most travelers believe travel industry personnel should be on Santa’s “nice” list this year.
Celebrating the Holidays at a Home Away from Home
Just because they’re away from home doesn’t mean travelers can’t bring along some holiday cheer to their destination. Of those travelers staying in a vacation rental for the holidays, 36 percent say they’ll cook a special holiday meal in the vacation rental home or condo’s kitchen. Other ways they say they’ll take the holidays with them on vacation:
By sharing a favorite holiday tradition with their family (27 percent)
By seeking out restaurants offering holiday meals (11 percent)
By bringing gifts to open at their destination (11 percent)
Other responses included bringing along decorations to deck the halls (3 percent), packing holiday movies (2 percent) and music (3 percent), making traditional holiday beverages (2 percent), and other types of holiday cheer (5 percent).
Sun and Slopes Beckon Holiday Travelers
Travelers dreaming of a white Christmas may be dreaming of white sand instead of snow this year. Four of the top 10 destinations this Christmas travel season are in the Sunshine State. Rounding out the rest of the list are familiar ski areas, tropical beach destinations and the always-popular holiday getaway, New York City.
The 10 destinations topping the list for Christmas travel, based on inquiries made on HomeAway.com for travel from December 22-28, 2011, include:
New York City
Key West, Fla.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.