The term “leisure travel” tends to conjure up images of people sitting on a beach, visiting amusement parks and taking tours of museums and historic sites.
But research by the Travel Industry Association shows that American leisure travelers are increasingly seeking outdoor adventure and physical activity during vacations and getaways.
Here are some interesting insights into the emerging active American traveler:
- Sense of Adventure – Half of all American adults have taken an adventure trip in the last five years. A third of these trips involved strenuous physical activity, such as mountain biking, scuba diving and whitewater rafting.
- Bicycling is Big – Among Americans, bicycling, hiking and camping are the three most popular outdoor vacation activities. Bicycling tourists, in particular, exhibit some of the best demographics of all travelers, with annual incomes of $75,000 or more. They also tend to be young—half are between 18 and 34— which means the potential of producing a sustainable and loyal customer base for years to come.
- Seekers of Wilderness – Being active in the outdoors seems to be a major reason why Americans travel. Two out of five Americans have visited a national park in the last five years. Interestingly, these travelers have also been shown to have higher household incomes than the average American traveler and spend more while on their trips.
- Staying Fit on Vacation – Engaging in physical activity while on vacation isn’t just for bicyclists, hikers and paddlers. More than 25 percent of all American travelers visit a fitness center or gym while they’re on vacation. This trend is helped by the increasing number of fitness centers around the country that have become more drop-in friendly, allowing travelers to easily get a workout while away from home.
The point of all this is to emphasize the importance of outdoor activity to American travelers. A growing affinity among travelers for outdoor recreation and physical activity is part of a larger trend towards American travelers seeking authentic experiences. In a media-saturated world where people are constantly looking at a TV screens, computer monitors or handheld devices, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that travelers want real experiences when they are on vacation.