Survey: Americans end up spending more than expected during road trips

AUSTIN, TX - Are road trips the most economical summer vacation option?

Survey: Americans end up spending more than expected during road trips

AUSTIN, TX – Are road trips the most economical summer vacation option? According to recent surveys conducted by RetailMeNot in conjunction with The Omnibus Company, the vast majority of Americans surveyed (95%) believe that people typically end up splurging and spending more money than they planned to during road trips. Food/restaurants (72%) and gas (62%) top the list of expenditures, followed by hotels (40%) and entertainment costs (40%).

“Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) surveyed are planning to take a road trip this summer,” says Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor for The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. “While the cost of traveling by car may seem cheaper compared to the cost of airfare, there are a variety of other factors to consider when budgeting for a road trip, like souvenirs, food costs, fluctuating gas prices and even car maintenance issues that often arise.”

Almost all survey respondents (98%) who took a summer vacation last year plan to do so again this year and will spend the same amount of money or more on their 2014 getaways (81%). Parents (47%) are more likely than those without kids (27%) to spend more on vacations than last year.

Open Road, Open Wallets

Driving from town to town allows road trippers to set their own pace and explore new areas. It also creates more spending choices for travelers on a budget. One in 3 (33%) survey respondents imagine they’d stop for a souvenir from a specific town or attraction if they were on a road trip. In fact, 73% of respondents who have taken road trips report that they typically stop every two to three hours, if not more often. Parents are almost twice as likely than those without kids to stop once an hour or more (13% vs. 7%).

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According to the survey, while on a road trip, people are likely to dine at local restaurants instead of chain restaurants whenever possible (41%), stop for a meal at a famous restaurant (39%), break for fun or an interesting activity (29%) or stop at retail stores or outlet malls along the way (28%).

The Hard Road

When thinking about a road trip, respondents say that staying within budget (50%), finding affordable gas (38%) and locating restaurants with good deals (17%) are the factors that they most commonly find hard to do.

Those living in the South (42%) and Midwest (42%) are more apt than those in the West (35%) and Northeast (32%) to fear they wouldn’t be able to find reasonably priced gas while on a road trip.
What keeps someone from taking to the open road? According to the survey, some of the most common reasons Americans shy away from road trips are a change in their financial situation (62%), a bad weather forecast (52%) and a rise in gas prices (43%).

Women are more likely than men to reconsider a road trip due to financial changes in their lives (68% vs. 54%), concerns about vehicle condition (49% vs. 39%) and spikes in gas prices (46% vs. 40%).

The Hungry Traveler

Due to circumstance and convenience, people who take road trips end up eating out a lot. With an increase in dining out comes vacation’s “guilty pleasures.” Over 3 in 4 (77%) respondents indulge in food or drinks they wouldn’t normally while not on vacation. Top guilty pleasures include ice cream (55%), baked goods (45%), chocolate (42%), pizza (35%) and alcoholic beverages (39%).

While travel expenses can add up on a road trip, there is hope for families looking to travel and enjoy local attractions and cuisines without breaking the bank. Travelers can download the RetailMeNot Coupons app and sign in to see nearby food offers at a variety of quick-service, fast-casual and fine dining restaurants along the way.

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