Is inflation damping summer plans? How Europe will travel in 2023
Inflation has been in the spotlight during this tough year, driven by surging energy costs, food and fuel prices, it’s impacting Europeans' summer holiday plans. However, will these challenges be enough to halt their travel? We asked over 340 TomTom Drivers about their summer plans to see if inflation is putting their holidays on hold or not*. Here's the answer.
Escalating fuel prices coupled with rising inflation are a concern for us all. These rising prices have affected our wallets, whether it’s filling up the fuel tank or indulging in a morning latte. Even so, 8 out of 10 Europeans are determined to go on holiday this summer but they’ll keep a close eye on their expenses, though.
Giving up holidays is off the table
The respondents are crystal clear about their intent to go on holiday – 77% say they will go on holiday while a mere 2% will stay at home. These figures are almost identical to last year when 78% of Europeans had planned to go on a summer trip. Those surveyed this year remain resolute in their decision to travel and are even willing to increase their holiday budget despite the cost-of-living crisis.
Europeans have a strong desire for holidays and are willing to expand their budget but their commitment to cost-consciousness remains paramount.
This trend reflects the revenge travel phenomenon we witnessed last year, where people sought to make up for lost time during the pandemic by embarking on memorable trips. The increased demand seen by many holiday companies, tour operators and airlines shows Europeans are again this year refusing to hold back on their holiday plans.
Holidaymakers will still monitor their costs closely – our survey shows that 71% of respondents prioritize cost-consciousness when planning their holidays. Only 13% say they are not concerned about this. This explains the growing trend of early holiday planning, with many people taking advantage of January’s bargain hotel deals, especially when offering options like ‘Buy now, pay later’ and refundable deals.
Skyrocketing plane ticket prices take their toll
The rising price of plane tickets has 75% of our respondents opting to travel by car instead of air (8%), representing a significant variation from last year's figures where 20% confirmed their intention to go by plane. This shift could be related to the chaos we witnessed last year at airports, with long security queues due to staff shortages caused by the layoffs during the pandemic. This forced important hubs like Amsterdam's Schiphol and London Heathrow to reduce the number of flights and routes.
Unfortunately, expensive flights will remain a hot topic this year due to high fuel prices, which impact the final service but also transportation costs for airlines. Furthermore, the EU’s stricter emission regulations require aircraft operators to invest more in fuel-efficient planes, costs which are passed on to the consumer.
Escalating airfare prices drive a significant shift toward cars as the primary mode of transportation, while fuel costs profoundly shape Europeans' itinerary planning.
When we asked TomTom Drivers in the survey about their preferred mode of transportation, going by car came at the top of the answers, even with high fuel prices. One of the reasons is the control you have over your expenses and even combine diverse ways of transport – some even opt to fly somewhere close to their destination and rent a car. Nevertheless, drivers are acutely aware of the associated costs linked to driving. These are not just financial (tolls, fuel, maintenance) but also emotional and stressful, including notorious traffic jams which weigh on the minds of 70% of respondents.
Savvy travelers are adopting a proactive approach by strategically planning their fuel stops based on gas station prices (46%). They rely on navigation apps that provide real-time updates on traffic and fuel prices. This way, they can bypass congested areas, sidestep unexpected traffic jams and maximize their saving with each journey.
Traveling within Europe
Being a tourist in your home country has become increasingly popular. Supporting this trend, a substantial 47% of Europeans will choose their home country as their holiday destination, while 39% will be more inclined to explore other European countries by car.
Europeans prioritize domestic holidays and embrace road trips to explore Europe.
The ease of travel within Europe is partly because of its well-developed road infrastructure and the implementation of the Schengen area. With just a valid passport or ID, travelers can effortlessly cross borders, eliminating the need for extensive visa procedures. This hassle-free movement across European borders could potentially contribute to the rise of road trips as a popular choice among holidaymakers.
And with whom do Europeans share their road adventures? More than 57% of respondents prefer to have their significant other as their travel companion, fostering unique experiences while hitting the road together. Following partners, family members are the next popular choice, with 27% of respondents opting to travel with their loved ones.
The data not only sheds light on preferred travel companions but also paints a vivid picture of the European road adventure landscape. Couples find joy in each other's company as they navigate winding roads, explore picturesque landscapes, and encounter the unexpected. Meanwhile, families take road trips where they can strengthen their bonds.
Is the cost of driving worth it?
While road trips during summer offer numerous advantages, such as convenience and cost-effectiveness, there are some downsides to take into consideration – fatigue from long hours of driving, fuel prices and the anxiety of traffic jams.
Scenery is Europeans' top priority when planning a road trip.
The latter has become a significant concern for drivers (64%) compared to the previous year when only 38% were worried about summer traffic. However, they look at the bright side of driving and they now prioritize enjoying the scenery (35%), taking breaks and exploring (26%) over saving time on the road (19%) or money on fuel (14%). This shift reflects a renewed appreciation for the journey itself, with more individuals opting for old-fashioned road trips as an alternative to flying.
With roads expected to be busier this summer, sat navs and navigation apps will play a crucial role in making the driving experience smoother. According to our survey, 78% of users still rely on sat navs, while 21% prefer navigation apps. The demand for these apps is growing, not only for directions but real-time traffic updates, scenic routing and information about road conditions ahead.
With a focus on cost-consciousness and alternative transportation options, travelers are adapting their strategies to ensure a memorable holiday experience. Whether exploring their own country or neighboring European destinations, they are embracing road trips and relying on technology to navigate the busy summer roads. Despite the uncertainties, the desire for summer holidays remains strong, and Europeans are finding ways to make their travel dreams a reality.
* Research by TomTom, which surveyed 350 adults in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK about their holiday and travel intentions for summer 2023.
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