Spontaneity rules: 2 in 3 people say unplanned trips are better than long-scheduled ones

NEW YORK — Sometimes extensive planning and mulling over every detail prior to your vacation takes some of the fun out of traveling. In fact, more than three in five Americans feel the best trips are spontaneous trips.

That’s according to a new survey of 2,045 adults with travel plans this year, where 67 percent enjoy trips more if they happen on a whim. One in five (22%) even base their travel on personal preference and spontaneous decision-making.

Popular travel preferences

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Motel 6, the survey also showed that many respondents don’t seem to care where they go, they just want to go. Almost three-quarters (73%) would be willing to take a trip to a surprise destinationThree-quarters (75%) agree that when traveling, the journey is just as much fun as the actual destination.

When asked about companions, more than three in four (78%) travelers prefer to travel with other people, while almost one in three (28%) are planning to travel with petsAnd typical “travel season” may be a thing of the past — almost half of Americans (47%) are equally likely to travel during peak seasons, like the summer and holidays, as they are during the off-season or weekdays. And 29 percent noted they even prefer to travel during those quieter times.

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Image by Joachim Schnürle from Pixabay

Visiting family and friends (53%), needing a break from life (50%) and the desire to explore a new city (35%) are some of the top reasons for planned tripsAnd these aren’t just quick trips down the road, as 70 percent are planning to travel more than three hours from their hometownOn average, travelers feel excited (74%), joyful (50%) and energized (49%) at the start of a trip and relaxed (38%) by the time they’re ready to head home.

“Taking a last-minute getaway is a great way to add some joy into your life,” says President and Interim CEO of Motel 6, Julie Arrowsmith, in a statement. 

More than two in five (44%) say they are changing up their travel experiences this year.  Of those respondents, 57 percent will be traveling to a new destination. Another 34 percent plan to hit more than one place in a single trip, and 32 percent are taking longer vacations than ever before. 

Budgeting for travel

But when it comes to budgeting, travelers are saving money on the road this year by traveling during the off-season, avoiding weekend travel (33%) and bringing their own snacks instead of purchasing them (32%) on the road. 

Nearly one in three (30%) are opting for more budget-friendly lodging and others are avoiding tourist hotspots in favor of a more local experience (24%). Of those traveling this year, nearly half (49%) plan to stay at a hotel or motel when booking accommodations, and two-thirds (66%) say rewards programs are important to them when traveling.

Thanks to the money saved on budget-friendly lodging, 43 percent of travelers are planning to spend big on experiences like tours and dining out.

“A vacation doesn’t have to break the bank in order to be memorable,” adds Arrowsmith. “There are many ways travelers can save while on the road from opting for more budget-friendly accommodations, utilizing rewards programs and packing their own refreshments, nothing should stand in the way of the trip of a lifetime.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,045 people with travel plans was commissioned by Motel 6 between Feb. 22 and Feb. 27, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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