Revenge travel is so last year.

“It’s not necessarily about just getting out of the house anymore,” said Sydney Stanback, Global Insights and Trends lead at Pinterest, which has seen more than 1 billion travel searches and more than 10 billion travel saves over the past year. 

Sure, many of the usual suspects are once again among the most popular destinations across multiple search engines this year, but she said this summer, “It’s more so about traveling with intention.” 

According to NerdWallet’s Summer 2024 Travel Report, 45% of Americans plan to take a trip requiring a hotel stay or flight this summer with expenses averaging just under $3,600. A fifth of those travelers expect to go into debt to pay for vacations.

Here’s what to consider when booking a summer trip, including where to go, when to travel and how to save.

What is the best place to travel in summer? 

The answer is subjective, especially this summer.

“Everyone’s kind of choosing their own adventure based off of what their needs are for travel,” Stanback said. 

Pinterest’s Summer 2024 Travel Report found summer travelers are most interested in adventure, exploring mysterious or uncharted destinations, and rest. Searches for “quiet life” jumped 530%, but that doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

“My mother actually just took a yoga retreat to Panama,” Stanback said. “That’s what she needed to do in order to get the rest that she needed and the wellbeing that she needed. But for me, when I think of rest and restoration, I simply think about going to a beach spa and just sitting and being by myself.”

Solo travel remains popular. Solo travel searches reached an all-time in Google in January, but again, not for everyone.

“For Gen Z specifically, that need is to gather and reconnect with their community because they were in isolation for so long and during very meaningful moments in their lives,” Stanback said. She noted group travel and road trips are of keen interest to Gen Z.

“It’s not necessarily about traveling and going out and going to restaurants and going to bars and clubs,” she added. “We actually see that a lot with younger generations. They’re kind of stepping away from that and really considering their well-being when they’re taking time off.”

Where do most tourists go in summer?

Expedia’s Summer Outlook and Google Flights identified the same cities among their most searched summer 2024 destinations based on flights, though rankings varied by platform.

Top 5 domestic destinations 

  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle

Top 5 international destinations

Allianz Partners found slightly different results in their analysis of “more than six million flight itineraries for trips between five and eight days in length for travel booked between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.”

Instead of L.A. and Vegas, Allianz named Boston and Honolulu among this summer’s top five domestic destinations. Internationally, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico; Oranjestad, Aruba; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic made Allianz’s top five, instead Rome, Paris and Tokyo.

“I am expecting crowds to rival last summer’s in popular overseas cities,” Expedia’s travel expert Melanie Fish said, noting how places like Barcelona and Venice are trying to curb overtourism. “They’re trying fees and if that’s not enough, they’re going to have to go even further.”

How can I save on a trip?

Summer trips are already costly for many travelers. “Americans with household income under $100,000 accounted for nearly half (46%) of intended leisure travel spend in summer 2023,” according to Deloitte’s Facing travel’s future report from April.

Expedia’s Fish shared five tips for booking summer 2024 vacations:

  • Bundle your trip. Booking airfare and a hotel at the same time can earn you deep discounts.
  • Travel midweek or later in the summer if it’s an option. You’ll save money and save yourself from fighting crowds. 
  • Fly early in the day … The early bird who takes the first flight of the day will typically get a better price and a lower chance of delays and cancellations. 
  • Book once, earn twice. You can stack rewards from your travel credit card (and) your airline.
  • Just go. Don’t pressure yourself to create the trip of a lifetime … Do it in a bite sized chunk if possible. 

‘Expensive in every way’: What travelers should expect this summer

How far ahead should I book travel?

“The sweet spot is now,” Fish said. “We’re within that 21- to 60-day pre-travel window to save around 15% on airfare, so now is the time to plan. That means ready, set, but maybe wait until August to actually go.”

She said travelers can save an average of $250 on international flights if they wait until the peak summer travel season passes. 

“It’s 15% cheaper on average to fly domestically in August versus June, 30% cheaper to fly to Europe in late summer, and 55% cheaper to fly to Mexico and the Caribbean in August,” she said. “Of course, August is peak hurricane season, so that has something to do with that price dip.”

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