Americans will scrimp to get a summer vacation

driving to beach vacationA little over half of all Americans plan to travel this summer, according to a new survey, although most report making some major sacrifices to afford their trip.

About 51% of the respondents to the annual American Express Spending & Saving Tracker said they plan to spend a whopping $1,000 per person on summer travel. The 2,000 randomly chosen respondents tend to have annual household incomes of $62,700, according to American Express.

To afford the trip, one of every three survey participants said they plan to drive rather than fly, stay for a shorter length of time, and do more bargain hunting online.

"We are pleased to see that people are traveling, and they're traveling more than last year," said Audrey Hendley, vice president of American Express Travel. "People are passionate about travel, and frequently we find they would rather find creative ways to reduce the cost of their trip, rather than do without it altogether."

Some creative cost-cutting measures, according to survey scripts provided to WalletPop, include "grocery shopping less than usual," "giving up going out to eat," "putting off a new car purchase," and "kids have jobs, they will be buying some of their non essentials."

Many people reported forgoing smaller trips during the year to save up for one big one this summer, scripts showed. Family trips were the most popular -- the choice of 52% of respondents. Most said they intend to stay in the U.S., especially in the South and East .

What's more telling than those who plan to go away, however, is those who say they will stay put. About 49% said they will not go away this summer,mostly because they haven't saved enough.

Some of these respondents said they needed the money for family necessities. Others didn't have time to plan a vacation.

American Express didn't have comparable figures to gauge how much travel is up this year over 2009 or whether fewer people plan "staycations" this year than last, when the economic downturn forced many Americans to do away with travel altogether.

What is for sure, however, is that air fares are on the rise this summer, making it more difficult for those who do venture out. Average domestic air fares are up 22% from last year, although hotel rates are down overall.
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