MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Traveler (POAT) survey found, among other interesting fragments, that food is a driving influence when it comes to choosing places to vacation and ways to vacation. Being motivated to vacation in order to experience new cuisines has grown from 51 percent of travelers in 2014 to 70 percent in 2018 in this important survey of 2,902 U.S. adults who have had taken at least one overnight trip of 75 miles or more from home during the previous 12 months. The majority of the households surveyed have an annual household income of $50,000–124,999.

Other significant POAT points this year include:

  • Travelers intend to spend the same amount on vacations in 2018 as they did in 2017, which amounts to an average of approximately $4,300 per household
  • Millennial families remain the most promising life stage of that generation and intend to spend 15 percent more in travel in 2018 ($4,577 household average) than they did in 2017 ($4,099 household average)
  • Thirty percent of travelers plan to take fewer vacations next year, the first time there has been a negative variance in intent to travel in the 12 years this question has been asked.
  • However, travel spending will remain steady into 2019 as travelers invest more money and planning behind each vacation. The study suggests travelers are seeking more meaning behind vacations rather than more vacations.
  • Among the top 10 cities Culinary Explorers are interested in visiting: Honolulu; the Florida Keys; Washington, D.C.; New Orleans and Boston.
  • Wellness travelers make up 10 percent of all American travelers.
  • The growing segment of wellness travelers spent $27.1 billion on leisure travel in the last year.
  • Median age is 40 years for home-sharing travelers, and 47 percent of ride-sharing travelers are not millennials.
  • Some of the destinations that saw the greatest increase in travel interest over the last five years of the study are New York City, Hilton Head Island and Niagara Falls; New Orleans is No. 1.
  • Roadtrips are back in form as 51 percent of those surveyed took a road trip recently, with 60 percent likely to take one this year.

Portrait also notes that despite intending to take fewer vacations, travelers have the same number of destinations on their wish lists in 2018 as in 2017: 36

“In past years, millennial families have been more dominant in travel spending, remaining the highest performing segment of this generation due to both their numbers and intent to increase travel spending,” Steve Cohen, senior VP of travel insights at MMGY Global, said in a news release. “These nearly 10 million households have sufficient size and purchasing power to make a positive impact on both destination visitation counts and travel service provider bottom lines. If this segment works with your travel offerings and market position, MMGY Global recommends actively marketing through strategic, targeted campaigns.”

Data for MMGY’s Portrait of American Travelers survey was collected in February 2018.