As journey approaches pre-pandemic ranges, the coasts are attracting vacationers on July 4th

Three sunny and sandy courts – California, Florida, and Hawaii – account for a quarter or more of all flights and car rentals this weekend.

Erik Isakson | Tetra Pictures | Getty Images

As people head into the long July 4th weekend, travel bookings are finally nearing pre-pandemic levels, according to a new analysis by Concur’s TripIt, and it is mostly warm coastal destinations that are attracting vacationers.

“Airports, roads and accommodations are starting to look like ‘normal’ before the pandemic,” said Jen Moyse, Senior Director of Product at TripIt. “Reservations on TripIt for July 4th show 85% refunds for rental cars and 64% for accommodations.

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(Domestic flights, however, have only reached 51% of 2019 bookings, although they are up 146% year-over-year. Unsurprisingly, international flights are only 29% of 2019 levels.)

Why the relative increase?

“Vaccinations have made travelers more confident,” Moyse said, noting that more than half of US travelers surveyed by TripIt in April said they had been vaccinated to feel good again.

The travel company found that three sunny and sandy spots – California, Florida, and Hawaii – accounted for a quarter or more of all flights and car rentals that weekend.

Top flight and rental car destinations

Top flight destinations

  1. Las Vegas
  2. Denver
  3. Orlando Florida
  4. Boston
  5. Seattle

Top destinations for rental cars

  1. Denver
  2. Kahului, Hawaii
  3. Orlando Florida
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Chicago

Source: TripIt by Concur

“TripIt reservations show these famous beach destinations have been popular since Labor Day Weekend 2020 as travelers flock to warmer weather,” Moyse said. “Whether it’s the extra vitamin D or outdoor activities where social distancing is easier, travel to the coast has been a staple for pandemic trips.”

Americans now seem to be staying away from home a little longer once they decide to take to the streets, TripIt found. The average stay in motels, hotels and resorts is now 4.11 days, down from 3.23 in 2019, and vacation rentals are even longer, averaging 5.83 days from 4.12 days two years ago.

“Compared to 2019, travelers stay about one day longer in hotels and almost two days longer in holiday apartments,” said Moyse.

Travel to the coast is an integral part of pandemic trips.

Jen Moyse

Senior Director of Product at TripIt

“Vacation rentals were appetizing for some during the pandemic as they offer privacy and security from crowds,” she added. “They’re also convenient lodging options in remote locations where there aren’t that many hotels.”

And while almost all travelers, 97%, stayed away seven days or less in 2019, more than 15% will stay longer than a week in 2021 – a six-fold increase.

According to TripIt, bookers of accommodation and holiday apartments choose slightly different travel destinations. (See table.) While travel destinations vary, travelers stay longer in hotels and rentals.

Top accommodation destinations

Top accommodation destinations (Average stay = 4.11 days)

  1. Las Vegas
  2. new York
  3. Orlando Florida
  4. Honolulu
  5. San Diego

Top vacation rental destinations (Average stay = 5.83 days.)

  1. San Diego
  2. Portland, Oregon
  3. Anchorage, Alaska
  4. Kihei, Hawaii
  5. Denver

Source: TripIt by Concur

“While the top destinations for hotels are big cities like Las Vegas and New York, vacation rentals offer something off the beaten path – places like Anchorage, Alaska and Kihei, Hawaii,” said Moyse.

For more information on TripIt’s results and a list of the top travel destinations as of July 25, please visit TripIt’s website.

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