CHICAGO, Aug. 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As summer draws to a close, Americans are actively seeking ways to maximize those final days of vacation. Labor Day traditionally marks the last big trip for summer vacationers, with many booking last-minute travel plans, and 2014 is no different. According to the Labor Day Orbitz Insider Index, travelers are on average booking their Labor Day getaways roughly 5 to 7 days later than the year before – making now the primetime for Labor Day bookings. The Index also examines Orbitz.com travel bookings heading into the last holiday weekend of summer and takes a look back at some of the highs and lows of summer travel 2014.
As is the case with most long-weekend holidays, the busiest day to travel is the Friday before Labor Day, similar to travel patterns in both 2012 and 2013. However, it also happens that Friday, August 29 is the cheapest day to travel so travelers will have to weigh the good with the bad.
"Travelers looking to avoid the crowds and high prices should plan to travel at off times. Booking flights for Thursday or Saturday morning can spare travelers the headache of dealing with busy airports and long security lines. Most importantly, consumers should book now. Travelers are booking Labor Day travel, on average, about a week later this year so we only expect availability to decrease and prices to increase as we get closer to the holiday weekend," said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for Orbitz.com.
Additional highlights from the Orbitz Insider Index include:
- While there are some main-stay destinations on this year's list, travelers are also seeking more laid-back locales to ring in the holiday weekend such as Playa Del Carmen and Myrtle Beach, a comeback to the list after falling far out of the Top 10 for the past few years.
- New York remains a fan favorite for long weekends, even as airfares are up a whopping 28 percent YOY while hotel prices are up 8 percent.
|Top Labor Day Destinations 20141|
|Rank||Destination||Hotel Avg. Daily Rate 2014||Hotel Avg. Daily Rate 2013||YOY Change||Avg. Airfare 2014||Avg. Airfare 2013||YOY Change|
|1||Las Vegas, NV||$122||$124||-2%||$330||$325||+2%|
|3||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic||$216||$199||+8%||$540||$577||-6%|
|5||New York, NY||$290||$269||+8%||$352||$276||+28%|
|6||Myrtle Beach, SC||$105||$128||-18%||$247||$240||+3%|
|7||Playa Del Carmen, Mexico||$223||$221||+1%||$596||$600||-1%|
|7||Lake Buena Vista, FL||$165||$155||+6%||$298||$267||+12%|
|8||San Diego, CA||$169||$139||+22%||$313||$318||-2%|
|10||New Orleans, LA||$173||$158||+9%||$333||$309||+8%|
Based on a recent end of summer consumer survey,2 Orbitz.com booking and travel industry data and insights from editors at the travel site, Orbitz.com has also compiled a breakdown of the high and lows of the 2014 summer travel season:
Highs of Summer:
- Taking time off – 83 percent of American travelers said they used at least some of their vacation days this summer.
- Steady gas prices – Although flight and hotel prices were up this summer, Americans taking road trips did not experience as big of an increase in travel costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy gas prices remained pretty steady this summer ($3.53 in 2013 versus $3.56 in 2014), which is not nearly as big of an increase as years past.3
- Putting technology on hold – In the era of smartphones and other touch devices, most Americans get separation anxiety if away from technology for even short periods of time. Yet, 46 percent of travelers said that they actually took time to unplug and relax during their summer vacation.
Lows of Summer:
- Compromised destinations – 60 percent of travelers said even though they traveled, they did not necessarily visit the destination they really wanted to visit and did not stay as long as they wanted due to cost and lack of vacation time.
- Flight delays abound – According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Airline On-time Statistics and Delay Causes, 30 percent of flights experienced delays of some sort. Most flight delays this summer were caused by late-arriving aircraft and delays with both carriers and the national aviation system.4
- Rising flight costs – Heading into summer, airfares were up 6 percent YOY and that number continued to rise through the busy travel season with flights to top destinations up an average of 1 to 5 percent. Comparisons between flights booked at the very beginning of the summer versus those booked nearer to the actual travel date were up an additional 3 percent, making travel more costly than in previous years.
1The Orbitz Insider Index top ten destinations were ranked based on all hotel bookings made on Orbitz.com for travel between August 29 – September 1, 2014. The year-over-year percentage change in average daily hotel rate was calculated based on the difference in average air and hotel pricing in each destination in 2014 vs. 2013 for travel between June 1 through August 31.
2The Orbitz end of summer travel survey was fielded by Orbitz from August 12-14, 2014 via Google Consumer Surveys. 472 U.S. adults aged 18 and older who had traveled sometime in May through August.
3Average gas priced based on week-by-week gas prices from the U.S. Department of Energy: U.S. Energy Information Administration for summer of 2013 vs summer of 2014.
4Airline delays and causes quoted based on data available for summer months of 2014 from the U.S. Department of Transportation: Research and Innovative Technology Bureau.
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