Staycation, again? – The New York Times

After two years of many travelers staying home, 2022 was supposed to be the year of Great tripwhen trips were ticked off wish lists and the word “stay” was withdrawn forever.

Then came the spring’s rising Covid-19 numbers, record gas prices, rapidly escalating air fares, and the war in Ukraine. Additionally, last year’s chaos of airline cancellations and delays persists. For some people, this has made the idea of ​​being closer to home, whether it’s actually staying in their own cities, or settling for scaled-down plans, more appealing. And suddenly, American travelers are rushing back to book hotels, restaurants, and local businesses.

Milan Jones and his girlfriend, Catherine Wilson, are among them. During 2020 and 2021, the couple settled for day trips to nature spots, museums, and spas near their home in Georgia. This spring they had planned to go to the Maldives for their first amazing trip in more than two years.

Then came the constant feelings of uncertainty: what would happen if they got sick abroad, didn’t the world seem too unstable?

The one-day flight left for that remote archipelago. The new plan: a week in a local spa to take a mental and physical break from the last two years of accumulated stress.

“We would decide to have a great vacation in the future only if we had some reassurance that it was completely planned and safe,” said Jones, 24, content writer and editor. “We probably wouldn’t plan anything more than three months in advance, and the more isolated the area we’re traveling in, the more peaceful we’d feel going there.” Their priorities: a stable region and a place with less risk of a coronavirus outbreak.

They are certainly not the only ones rethinking things.

In April study by Bankrate, a personal finance site, found that 69% of American adults who say they will go on vacation this summer plan to make changes to their plans due to inflation, with 25% traveling shorter distances and 23% planning cheaper activities. Among people planning to take a break, a stay was the second most popular option, after going to the beach.

A different relationship published in May by the travel review site TripAdvisor found that 74% of American travelers were “extremely worried” about inflation; 32% were planning to take shorter trips this summer and 31% were planning to travel close to home.

While that doesn’t mean travel is completely cut, it reflects that, for the third consecutive summer, stays are expected to be a significant part of the mix and “vengeance journey“- an all-out trip to make up for lost time – may have to wait a little longer, said Amir Eylon, president and chief executive officer of Longwoods International, a travel market research consultancy in Columbus, Ohio.

An optimistic May relationship from the Mastercard Economics Institute found that in the first quarter of 2022, Americans were booking shorter domestic and international flights above 2019 levels of about 25%, although long-haul flights were still depressed. But, the report warns: “While the upwinds of pent up demand linked to Covid are driving the resumption of travel forward, so are the headwinds of inflation, supply chain constraints, geopolitical uncertainties and infection rates. Covid are shaping 2022 “.

The impact of price hikes may be uneven, the report says: “More price-sensitive travelers may stay closer to home, while less price-sensitive travelers who are more likely to have greater excess savings may be less worried about higher prices and eager to travel. “

For those who aren’t jumping on long-haul flights, the winners seem to be nearby vacation spots, where hotels and short-term rentals are being booked. Airbnb bookings in the United States by people staying in their region They increased 65% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2019, said Haven Thorn, a spokesperson for Airbnb.

“The demand for domestic leisure travel is higher than it has ever been since the pandemic,” said Emily Seltzer, marketing manager at River House from Odette, a small luxury hotel in New Hope, Pennsylvania that draws most of its guests from Philadelphia and New York. “Instead of having to fly, guests are more inclined to get in the car and start enjoying the vacation.”

Amanda Arling, President of The whalers’ inn, a luxury hotel in downtown Mystic, Connecticut said the hotel is filling up quickly for the summer, much faster than in previous years. Weekends are already nearly sold out on Labor Day and he said he’s starting to see a surge in midweek deals as well. Ms. Arling estimates that 20 percent of bookings are Connecticut and Rhode Island locals staying.

“Travel and home stays seem to satisfy the desire to explore new places,” he said.

“Staycations has opened a new offering for the travel industry, and moving forward, we will see an industry increase in offering accommodation in major metropolitan areas,” said Peter Vlitas, Executive Vice President of Partner Relations at Internova Travel Group, representing more than 70,000 travel consultants worldwide.

Some have already started. Virgin hotels in Chicago offers up to 30% off hotel stays for Illinois residents, for example.

Amy Lyle, 51, author, and her husband Peter Lyle, 56, a health systems consultant, who live near Atlanta, are looking into what could be their third year in there. Their first planned trip, to the Amalfi Coast, was booked to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary in April 2020.

Ms. Lyle canceled it when international travel nearly shut down at the start of the pandemic. Instead, the couple stopped 30 minutes north of their home, enjoying time on Lake Lanier.

Then, in April 2021, they tried again, booking a vacation with friends to Greece, Egypt and Israel. But in March, a month before departure, the travel agent informed them that Israel had been banned from the itinerary due to increased violence.

The Lyles returned to the lake.

They have already canceled one trip this year, to Rome and Nice, due to concerns about the war in Ukraine. But they hope to go to Greece this month to finally celebrate their 10th anniversary. If this is canceled, they will settle for a stay in Darien, Georgia, a small fishing village on the coast.

“I am an author of ‘The Book of Failures’, so the cancellation of three European holidays is the story of my life,” said Ms Lyle.

Meaghan Thomas, 29, of Louisville, Ky., Will be staying after canceling his May trip to London, which he planned more than a year ago.

“We were confident Covid would calm down by then,” said Ms. Thomas, who canceled the trip in April after numbers soared in March. Instead, she will take a road trip to visit a friend in Asheville, North Carolina

Ms Thomas owns an organic spice company and more shocking to her than the cancellation of her UK trip is the further delay of her business trip, which was planned this year for Tunisia, India and Sri Lanka. to meet the spice growers.

“I’m really hoping for a late summer trip, but my confidence in flying and keeping safe from Covid has dropped significantly,” he said.

But for many people, even a second-rate vacation is better than no vacation, and they are simply grateful that they will be leaving their homes, said Brian Hoyt, global communications and industry affairs manager for TripAdvisor.

“Travelers have overwhelmingly claimed that they have been stuck in their homes for 24 months and that they will be leaving this summer,” Hoyt said, referring to the report released in May.

And the stay isn’t that bad. Most importantly, some travelers say, when you consider things like the seemingly ubiquitous flight delays and cancellationslong flights that can they no longer need masks and Covid regulations that arise from international travel, such as having to do it negative test to return to the United States.

Heather Fremling, 55, an independent financial advisor in Merritt Island, Florida, had traveled her entire life for work, family and pleasure. But during the pandemic, when Ms. Fremling drove across the country to help her older parents, she realized how much less stress she felt driving rather than flying.

“I was reminded, in a rather bad time, of the freedom and happiness of controlling your own travel,” she said.

Now, Ms. Fremling sticks to stays, relying on resort passes and same-day hotel reservations to take advantage of luxury destinations without the stress and hassle of actual travel.

Steve Schwab, 49, CEO of Casago, a vacation rental company said it usually travels to a new place every summer, but this year, with rising gasoline prices and inflation, it couldn’t justify the cost. So he and his family are staying in Scottsdale, Arizona, where they live, for a week.

“We spent some time jotting down our favorite activities,” Schwab said. “And just listing them and thinking about what we want to do made me a lot more excited about it than I was. Sometimes, all it takes is a little planning to make you feel excited about what’s to come. “