Priceline reveals top U.S. peak-season travel trends

After a devastating pandemic kept us at home for over a year, Priceline took a deep dive into how travel has changed and what trends are emerging as we enter the spring and summer peak travel season.

“Not only are leisure travelers desperate to make up for lost travel opportunities in 2020,” said Priceline CEO Brett Keller, “but the slow recovery of business travel and broad availability of deals will fuel even more leisure demand.”

Here are highlights of how American travel preferences are changing:

Escapism is top of mind: When it comes to air travel, hotel stays and car rentals, Americans are prioritizing warm tropical and entertainment-focused destinations, such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, Mexico and Orlando, to name a few.

Wallet-friendly stays abound in the South and West: As Americans begin traveling again, travel deals are more important than ever. Priceline has identified the top 10 destinations where the average hotel stay costs under $140 a night. Among them are Las Vegas ($87), Denver ($116), Orlando ($125), Seattle ($129) and Tampa ($138).

Local exploration matters more than ever: American travelers are opting to explore locally, with 70% of car rentals used for road trips within their own state and driving an average of 184 miles. Similarly, local hotel stays are on the rise.

Package deals enable workcations: The blurring of work-life boundaries is giving rise to the “bleisure” travel, a hybrid extended leisure trip that incorporates work during the vacation experience. This is fueling traveler preference for bundled and package reservations, which streamline the booking process and offer great savings.

Last-minute trips are likely here to stay: Last year, American travelers overwhelmingly shifted to last-minute bookings, within the same week or even the same day of heading out on a trip. While the average advanced purchase window for hotel stays is up 47% compared to 2020—showing that traveler confidence is increasing—it is still 13% later than in 2019. With new flexible booking options, last-minute travel offers greater peace of mind and makes it unlikely for this behavior to change.