Here's where Americans are planning to go for that summer vacation

  • Tripadvisor says 67% of American plan to travel this summer, and 74% of them will stay within the U.S.
  • The most popular destinations include typical sun-and-fun beach destinations affording fresh air and space for social distancing.
  • Competition for domestic accommodations is resulting in a boom in vacation rental searches in some emerging destinations.

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  • TRIP

Americans are looking to finally get out and about this summer, and interest in both well-known and new emerging getaway spots is rising along with temperatures, according to travel companies.

Online travel guidance platform Tripadvisor says 67% of Americans plan to travel from June through August, a 17% jump over spring (March to May). Most of them (43%) plan to drive, although 19% are willing to fly, and beach destinations — particularly in Florida and Mexico — are at the top of traveler wishlists.

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Why the beach? "This summer, we continue to see travelers favor outdoor locations like beaches or national parks, locations that continue to enable the practice of social distancing," said Tripadvisor spokesperson Brian Hoyt.

People are also just ready to get out of the house, he added. "As the vaccine rollout far exceeds the Biden administration's promised target of 1 million doses administered per day, Americans are resoundingly saying they are prepared to get out there again, to travel and see the world once more to make up for lost time."

Tripadvisor's Top 10 Summer Destinations

Here's a look at the most popular summer vacation destinations for Americans as tracked by Tripadvisor, along with a highly-rated hotel in each that still had availability as of press time.

  1. Cancun, MexicoLe Blanc Spa Resort Cancun
  2. Orlando, FloridaThe Delaney Hotel
  3. Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaOcean 22 by Hilton Grand Vacations
  4. Key West, FloridaHavana Cabana at Key West
  5. Miami Beach, FloridaThe Standard, Miami
  6. Las VegasFour Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
  7. Playa del Carmen, MexicoBanyan Tree Mayakoba
  8. Cabo San Lucas, MexicoVista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences
  9. Tulum, MexicoAhau Tulum
  10. Punta Cana, Dominican RepublicDreams Macao Beach Punta Cana

Source: Tripadvisor

Despite the interest in Mexico that Tripadvisor tracked, the site found that 74% of Americans plan to travel domestically this summer — and that means more competition for accommodations across the country. To wit, hotel searches are up 65% at Tripadvisor. The survey showed that 46 percent of vaccinated consumers plan to travel at least once during the summer months, with a majority planning interstate travel.

As popular vacation destinations fill up, more Americans are looking at less well known holiday spots, particularly of the sun-and-fun variety. Vacation rental search aggregator VacationRenter.com has tracked growth of more than 100% in bookings in 11 emerging summer destinations — eight of which are beach areas in Florida alone.

"Because of the last year, there's pent-up demand for travel this summer which makes it more competitive to book your typical vacation spots," said Zander Buteux, head of organic growth at VacationRenter.com. "Smaller cities and areas that don't traditionally experience summer tourism are growing in response to other locations booking up faster than before."

11 Emerging Summer Destinations for Renters

Here's a look at 11 emerging summer destinations that are increasingly popular with vacation rental customers, according to VacationRenter.com. Each has seen growth of more than 100% in bookings year over year.

Destination: Growth Rate

  1. Isle of Palms, South Carolina: +388%
  2. Sugar Mountain, North Carolina: +279%
  3. Miramar Beach, Florida: +237%
  4. Anna Maria Island, Florida: +203.06%
  5. Siesta Key, Florida: +157%
  6. Sarasota, Florida: +149.43%
  7. Bonita Springs, Florida: +148%
  8. Pensacola Beach, Florida: +144.51%
  9. Lake Anna, Virginia: +143.50%
  10. Navarre Beach, Florida: +128.42%
  11. Rosemary Beach, Florida: +107.52%

Source: VacationRenter.com

Being smaller, these ascendant destinations don't have the same hotel inventory as big-league resort towns but, in this age of Airbnb and other home rental sites and apps, that's not necessarily a disadvantage. And vacation rentals offers added advantages such as isolation and more space, said Buteux.

"They provide you with the flexibility to travel safely, and renters have more control," he noted. "For example, you and your pod can order groceries and cook at the rental property instead of going out for food, to reduce contact with others."

"People missed out on seeing their friends and family last year; by having everyone stay in a rental, it's substantially easier to coordinate plans and spend quality time together," Buteux added.  

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