BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Oct 1, 2013) - Vacation is a time to relax, but to what extent and in what ways? In their most recent Travel Habits Survey*, Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, delves into the behaviors (and misbehaviors) of Americans on vacation. The findings? Almost 61% of us take a break from being responsible while we're away. And men are leading the way with 64% of them indicating they are likely to take a vacation from being responsible, versus 58% of women.
"We all need to let loose from time to time, and vacations are a prime opportunity to do just that," said Melisse Hinkle, site editor for Cheapflights.com. "Our goal with this survey was to find out if responsibility is one of the things Americans leave behind when they travel. We found that most people do tend to lighten up, and it's fascinating to see how people choose to break from their day-to-day responsibilities on vacation."
What are vacationers up to?
When Americans were asked what were the most common ways they have behaved "irresponsibly" when traveling, the top answer was "overspent" (60%), followed by "too much sun" (45%), "stayed out late/all night" (31%) and "too much alcohol" (30%).
In an interesting twist, more people reported a "regrettable romantic decision" (8%) than "missing a flight, train or tour" (6%), and more people cited "letting the kids get away with more" (12%) than "leaving behind luggage or personal items" (10%). And 9% said they were guilty of "working too much and missing the fun."
What we let slide (and what we don't)
When it comes to maintaining their standards on vacation, Americans ranked "bed time" as the most common thing they let slide, followed by "healthy eating" and then "exercise routine." "Getting up," "budgeting," "drinking" and "level of dress" (in that order) were the other top answers for where respondents have abandoned their usual standard of behavior. Conversely, the top two things we stick to our standards for are "wearing deodorant" and "dating."
Respondents did come away from their travels with some great lasting benefits. Top of the list: "love of a new food" (54%) followed by "lasting friendships" (32%), "love of a new drink" (2%), "great picture for their holiday card" (26%) and "new hobby" (22%). Also of note: 3% report returning from a trip with a new job while 11% have come home with a new relationship.
People are split about what worries them while they're on the road. The top two worries were "forgetting to pack items" and "spending beyond their means," which each concerned 41.8% of respondents. Perhaps the split comes from the fact women named "forgetting to pack something" as their number one travel worry (48%) while men cited spending beyond their means (38%) as their top concern.
Next up on the overall list of worries: "leaving the house empty" (36%), "pets left at home" (35%) and "being robbed/having items stolen" (34%).
It is worth noting that more people worried about "bed bugs" (24%) than "illness or injury" (20%) and about "getting into swimwear/showing off their bodies" (19%) than "not being able to speak the language" (16%). And, in a reflection of priorities, more people were concerned about being away from family (15%) than work (14%). Leaving behind their pets trumped both soundly at 35%.
Shhh... what happens on vacation stays on vacation
More than 25% of us have kept events from a vacation secret, be it from a spouse, friend, employer or family member. (Just over 32% of men have made a point not to share certain vacation details with others. For women, that number comes in at slightly under 22%.)
A family member was the most likely person to be left in the dark, with 15.5% reporting that's who they've intentionally kept out of the picture about vacation happenings.
A deeper look
The more you slice and dice the data, the more interesting trends emerge. Some added findings:
Even those with kids are prone to taking a break from responsibility. All told, 58% of parents, whether single or with a partner and with kids young and old, weighed in as likely to take such a break. Meanwhile, 65% of those without kids, whether single or married, were likely to partake in some irresponsible behavior.
And, of course, how old we are also factors into what we do. There is a notable shift over the years in the likelihood of embracing irresponsibility on vacation. For those between the ages of 25-34, the percentage was at the highest level - just over 75%, beating out the 18-24 year olds, where 69% reported that vacations included a break from responsibility. Meanwhile, those least likely to abandon responsibility were the 65 and above set (47%).
The single folks with grown children were more prone to slip on sticking to a budget than parents in a relationship. Meanwhile, those married/in a relationship with young kids group outpaced the other parents when it came to drinking, with 33% indicating they've consumed "too much alcohol" on vacation -- and 51% selecting "drinking" as a standard they let slip. By comparison, the single parents with young kids were second in these categories with 29% naming "too much alcohol" as one of their irresponsible habits and 43% including "drinking" as a standard that slips.
The single parents with young kids did outpace everyone in the "regrettable romantic decision" category of irresponsible actions with 21% fessing up to such.
Almost 15% of singles reported winding up with a new relationship from travel. That's higher than the 11% who cited a "regrettable romantic decision" as an irresponsible moment on a trip.
*Cheapflights.com surveyed 1,009 Americans for this latest Travel Habits report. To read more, visit www.cheapflights.com/news/american-travel-habits-let-loose/.
To read about our last Travel Habits Survey which focused on repeat vacation destinations, visit www.cheapflights.com/news/american-vacation-habits.
About Cheapflights.com, part of the Momondo Group
Momondo Group is an online travel media and technology company that is driven by the belief that an open world is a better world. The group now serves travel search and inspiration to over 13 million visitors a month -- plus 6 million travel newsletter subscribers -- via its Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) and momondo (www.momondo.com) brands.
Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, while Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries in 2006.
The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen, Boston and Toronto, with a consumer base across more than 20 core international markets but users all over the world.
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