Hopefully, most people are about to get some time off this month. Maybe it’s a two-week-long break from school, or a two-day closure of the office at Christmas, or a last-ditch effort to use up all the paid time off you have accumulated before it expires at the end of the year. Before you jet off, brush up on your knowledge about how America travels in the modern age. Here are eight predictions for your vacation, based on current travel trends.
1. YOU'LL BE SQUISHED.
Flying has gotten a lot more uncomfortable in recent years, as you might have noticed. A 2014 analysis of the dimensions of seats on American, Delta, and United aircrafts found that even the widest seats in economy class are smaller than they were in the 1990s. In 1991, the smallest seats those airlines offered measured 19 inches in width; in 2014, the biggest economy seat (offered by American Airlines) was 18.5 inches, and some are as narrow as 17 inches across.
2. YOU MIGHT LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME.
Children are traveling even less than they used to, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In 2012, 26 percent of people traveling through the U.S. for vacation brought along kids under 18 years old, compared to 31 percent in 2008.
3. YOU'RE PROBABLY STAYING IN AN AIRBNB …
A recent research report from Barclays estimated that Airbnb listings formed around 17 percent of the hotel room supply in New York City, nearly 12 percent in Paris, and 10 percent in London. This year, there were more than a million homes available on the site. In September, Reuters reported that the company’s nightly bookings would double over the course of 2015, to 80 million a year.
4. … AND IF YOU ARE, YOU'RE PROBABLY STAYING LONGER.
A 2015 study found that peer-to-peer accommodations, like rooms listed on Airbnb, affect people’s travel habits. Travelers in the U.S. and Finland reported traveling more and staying longer using these types of services than they would if they were just booking a hotel.
5. YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO TAKE A BUS …
Long airport lines, expensive fares, and fewer routes to smaller airports mean that some people are abandoning air travel when they can. An unexpected replacement: intercity bus travel. A 2014 study found that bus travel with companies like Greyhound and Megabus is becoming a more popular alternative to flying, taking the train, or driving a personal car.
6. … BUT YOU'LL PROBABLY DRIVE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates that 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is by car, compared to 5 or 6 percent by plane.
7. IF YOU'RE GETTING ON A PLANE, IT'S PROBABLY TO LONDON OR BANGKOK.
London is the world’s most popular global destination, according to an index compiled by MasterCard. An early estimate put its 2015 visitor count at 18.82 million international travelers. Bangkok was a close second, with 18.24 million visitors estimated for 2015.
8. YOU PROBABLY FEEL GUILTY TAKING TIME OFF.
Project Time Off, a group that advocates for better work/life balance, estimates that American workers let a total of 429 million vacation days go to waste each year. From 1976 to 2000, U.S. workers used an average of 20.3 days of paid time off. In 2013, workers took 16 days of vacation, despite the mental and physical health benefits of taking time off.