Travel Budgets Are on the Upswing
American consumer travel budgets rose steadily this year, with the average budget at $5,710 per trip in the third quarter, an increase from the first-quarter average of $5,239 per trip, according to Triplogy by Rand McNally’s 3rd Quarter Travel Trend Report. The top five most-requested countries in 2011 were: the U.S., Mexico, Italy, the Bahamas and Jamaica, according to the survey. The top five most-requested cities were: Las Vegas, Orlando, Cancun, Miami and Honolulu.
Americans List Travel as Top Lifetime Goal . . .
If Americans could only accomplish one goal in their lifetime, 72% would choose a travel-related goal, a survey commissioned by Princess Cruises found. Travel far outdistanced other top goals, including professional (15%) and academic (7%).
. . . And Most Have a Travel Bucket List
Nearly two-thirds of Americans, 65%, have a bucket list of places they want to visit and things they want to do before they die, according to the Princess survey. Younger Americans embrace the bucket list concept the most. Those ages 18 to 34 are more likely to have a bucket list than those 35 and older (70% vs. 63%). Nearly half, 46%, said they believe having a concrete plan to cross off one item per year is the best strategy for moving through their lists.
More Americans Are Planning Holiday Travel . . .
More Americans plan to travel this holiday season than last year, according to the third annual Access America Vacation Confidence Index. The Index, published by Mondial Assistance USA, revealed that nearly six in 10 (57%) Americans are confident they will take a holiday trip this year, up from 50% in 2010. This increase is expected to bump total holiday travel spending to $65.2 billion, a 10% increase over last year.
. . . But They Expect to Spend Slightly Less
Individual travelers said they plan to spend slightly less on holiday travel this season – averaging $980, down from the $1,040 budgeted last year. Car travel is still the top mode of transportation (56%) for holiday travel. But more travelers indicated an intent to fly to their destination this year, with 34% planning to fly this year, up from 26% last year.
Virgin America, Air Canada Rated Best for Healthy Food
Both Virgin America and Air Canada lead the pack when it comes to healthy airline food, according to this year’s Airline Food Survey from DietDetective.com. Both earned a health score of four stars, out of a possible five. Not far behind was United Airlines, with 3.5 stars. At the opposite end of the pack were Southwest Airlines with 1.75 stars and Spirit Airlines with just one star. US Airways and JetBlue both scored 2.75 stars, while American Airlines pulled in 2.5 stars and Delta 2.25. Scores were based on snack and food offerings, number of healthy offerings, airline cooperation, fruit and vegetable offerings. and improvements over last year.
Car Rental Satisfaction Rises
Customer satisfaction with rental cars has increased for the second year in a row, with overall satisfaction reaching a score of 758 on a 1,000-point scale, up from 750 in 2010. According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study, the increase was driven by gains in all six factors the study examines: costs and fees; pick-up process; return process; rental car; shuttle bus/van service; and reservation process. Among the study’s findings: the average wait time to pick up a rental car is 17 minutes, which improved from 20.5 minutes last year. Also ACE Rent A Car, appearing in the listings for the first time, ranked the highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies with a score of 793. Enterprise ranked second with 787, while National ranked third with 768.
Barbados Offers Free Wi-Fi
In addition to sandy beaches, warm sunshine and rum drinks, Barbados now offers visitors free island-wide Wi-Fi access. The project, dubbed 11.11.11 ON (it went live on Nov. 11), was launched by the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation. Its objectives include making the island more inviting to tourists, helping the local business community and making it easier for entrepreneurs to get started in business. As of now, the project relies on the local business community opening its networks to guests.
Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations Top Lonely Planet List
Coastal Wales, Central America’s Ruta Maya and northern Kenya topped the list of hot destinations for 2012 picked by the editors of Lonely Planet’s annual Best in Travel book. Other top regions to visit for 2012 include: Arunachal Pradesh (India), Hvar (Croatia), Sicily, the Maritime Provinces (Canada), Queenstown and Southern Lakes (New Zealand), Borneo and the Poitou-Charentes region of France.