Monday, February 21, 2011

Where Are Today's Backpackers and Honeymooners Heading?

Believe it or not, they're heading to many of the same destinations.

The migratory patterns, so to speak, of these groups of travelers were examined in several, massive 2010 surveys, the results of which were released last week. Booking site drew responses from 15,000 of its users; bridal site garnered 12,000 responses from its couples; and questioned several hundred travel agents on the trends they've noticed. Here are the results:


Exotic seems to be out in these recessionary times. For honeymooners, 30% of the American couples surveyed by TheKnot had decided to stay close to home, picking the continental US for their getaway. Nothing says "romance" better than a pair or mouse ears and small children running all about, apparently, and Orlando was the top draw among those who decided to stay in North America, with Las Vegas a close second. Those booking through travel agents were most likely to choose Hawaii, according to

Donald Duck, Captain of Romance (photo by Bruce Tuten)
Hostelbookers data was drawn primarily from travelers in their 20's and early 30's, with the most respondents from the UK, followed by Australia and the US. What was surprising to me was how cautious these folks seem to be in their choice of destinations. Backpackers used to be known for pioneering new parts of Asia and Africa for tourism. According to the 2010 study, the number one destination for these folks is also the US with France, Spain and the UK trailing by a hair. Non-western destinations don't crack the top ten.

Time Away
As with other groups of travelers vacation time is shrinking. Those honeymooners going outside the US are averaging 8 days away, while those staying closer to home are gone for just 5-6 days on average.

Among the backpackers, 50% of whom self-report as having full-time jobs,  long-term travel seems to be just a dream. One third of these respondents said they traveled for just 4-7 days at a time; another third took 8-14 days off.

Along with shortening their average honeymoon time to save money, a number of newlyweds are choosing cheaper hotels and cutting out the extras (spa treatments, expensive dinners, etc.) to keep costs in line.

The backpackers, not surprisingly, have even tighter budgets: 50% hope to find lodgings for $29 a night or less, and 64% plan to spend less than $40 a day for all their other expenses. I wish best of luck to the 3% who are planning to live on less than $10, and urge them to write me and tell me how they do it!

That would be a given with honeymooners and isn't covered in the surveys. But interestingly, 16% of the hostelers admitted to having sex in hostel dorm rooms (really? Without waking anybody up?!?). And a whopping 73% of respondents said "they'd never tell" which either ups the number of people copulating in public, or speaks to an apparently common hostel fantasy.

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