Holiday travel warnings are a familiar refrain each year, but 2023 is poised to be a standout in the world of travel. According to the 2023 Deloitte Holiday Travel Survey, nearly half of the country’s population has plans to embark on journeys between Thanksgiving and mid-January. However, there’s a unique twist this year as the concentration of travelers around Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is expected to be notably high.
Intriguingly, while the number of travelers remains substantial, they are opting for fewer trips. The survey suggests that more than one-third of travelers (37%) will take a flight at least once during this holiday season, emphasizing the enduring allure of air travel. However, roads might experience a bit less congestion, with 53% of American travelers choosing road trips as their mode of holiday transport, a slight dip from the 64% figure of the previous year.
Mike Daher, Vice Chair of Deloitte LLP and U.S. Transportation, Hospitality, and Services Non-Attest Leader, noted, “The travel industry is reaching its cruising altitude this holiday season.” He emphasized the increasing importance of spending time with family and friends during the holidays, as Americans look forward to reconnecting with loved ones while putting aside some of the concerns that had impacted their plans in the previous year.
Hotels are expected to emerge as the big beneficiaries of this travel surge, with 56% of holiday travelers planning to stay at hotels during their journeys, a significant increase from the 35% figure recorded last year. The average traveler anticipates spending a substantial $2,725 on their trip, as reported by Deloitte.
Surprisingly, the expense of holiday travel seems to be the primary reason why more people aren’t joining the throngs of travelers this year. Among those who won’t be hitting the road, 38% cite financial considerations as the top deterrent. COVID-related concerns have largely receded, with only 11% expressing health worries as a reason for staying home.
Another noteworthy contributor to the travel boom is the continued surge in remote work. A third of the 5,281 survey respondents indicated that they planned to work during their longest trip this holiday season. These working travelers tend to take more frequent and extended trips, according to Deloitte.
In summary, while 2023’s holiday travel season is expected to be crowded, marked by a higher concentration of travelers around Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the evolving preferences and motivations of travelers underscore the enduring importance of the holiday season, the rebounding travel industry, and the evolving nature of work in today’s world.