Trends impacting holiday travel this year.

Will this year’s record-breaking travel extend into the winter holiday season?

It’s been a banner year for travel, and the demand isn’t slowing down as we head into what’s forecasted to be one of the busiest holiday seasons.

More than 55 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving alone–up 2.3 percent from last year. So, what can we expect the rest of the winter 2023 travel season to look like?

Generational travel trends

Almost half of Americans plan to travel between Thanksgiving and the new year, and a good number are returning to the road. About one-third of those expected to make a trip this winter are baby boomers. That’s an increase from last year when this generation made up only 21 percent of American holiday travelers.

Younger travelers are also planning trips. On average, both millennial and Gen Z vacationers will travel twice for the holidays–more than their older counterparts. And while baby boomers tend to spend more on vacation, Gen Zers are anticipated to spend more on travel across the season as 1 in 4 say they will significantly increase their holiday travel budget this year.

Remote work travel

Much has been said about remote work on the heels of the pandemic. I recently wrote about the ways remote work trends have positively shaped the travel industry throughout the year–and this trend will continue into the winter.

One out of three travelers plan on working remotely during their longest holiday vacation. This is significant because those with the flexibility to work remotely (often younger, higher-income Americans) tend to take more trips throughout the winter, spend more money on vacations, and have longer stays. In fact, Americans with work flexibility will extend a trip by an average of five days if they can work remotely.

International travel

Winter travel is often associated with visiting family and friends because of the holidays. While this is true (more than half of Americans rank time with loved ones as their top winter travel motivator), many plan to take leisure tips this season.

Twenty-six percent of American air travelers plan to fly internationally for the holidays and, similar to this year’s summer travel season, they’re continuing to fly to Europe. Compared to last winter, American travel to European destinations is expected to increase by 21 percent. Popular cities this year include long-standing American tourist favorites like London and Paris as well as newer hotspots like Prague and Geneva.

Although most American travelers will take shorter trips this winter, the season is still expected to be record-breaking. This isn’t just good news for the travel industry, but also for sectors such as hospitality, as remote workers and international travelers reserve hotels, restaurants, and services.

While these industries continue to improve from the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see emerging trends that point to their long-term success and recovery.

Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.

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