Leisure travel may make a comeback this summer, according to the 2002 American Express Leisure Travel Index. The average number of vacations planned in 2002 is 1.7, up from 1.5 in 2001.
Fifty-four percent of survey respondents say they plan to travel at least as much this year as last year, and another 25% expect to travel more. Only 19% say they will travel less.
A total of 62% of respondents say they will take a leisure trip this year, up from 55% in 2001. About 60% say the events of Sept. 11 will have little or no effect on their vacation planning this year.
Besides taking more vacation, Americans are again interested in short, weekend getaways. Sixty-three percent of respondents say they are planning a weekend getaway this year, with the average number of weekend trips at four.
July will be the most popular month for leisure travel (41% will travel during that month), with August following at 29%.
Most Americans (61%) will travel by car this year and 44% will fly. Bus and train travel will each account for 3% of travel.
Twelve percent of respondents will travel internationally and 51% say they will travel only domestically. Popular destinations include the beach (36%), outdoor adventures or sports-related trips (26%), theme parks (20%), cultural or historical sites (19%) and casinos (16%).
The Internet continues to be the preferred tool for planning and booking leisure travel. For the first time, the Internet is beating out direct calls to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. A mere 6% used tour operators to book travel arrangements.