HomeOutdoorsInflation and High Gas Prices Have Travelers Opting for ‘Near-Cations’ Again

Inflation and High Gas Prices Have Travelers Opting for ‘Near-Cations’ Again

by Amy Myers
(Photo by: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

With gas prices cresting $4 a gallon and inflation surging at everyday stores and hotels, planning a summer vacation warrants more stress than it does excitement. Instead of using all their rainy-day funds on one trip, though, a significant number of travelers have decided to scale back their plans to combat the rising prices. That means staying closer to home and opting for a more budget-friendly “near-cation” that requires less travel and, ultimately, less money.

This is a step up from stay-cationing, which so many of us did for the past two years, but still, with hopes that this would be the first ordinary summer since we first came to know masks and social distancing, abbreviated traveling may come as a disappointment.

Recently, Harvest Hosts, a top membership platform for RVers, released a survey that broke down travelers’ expectations for the coming busy season. More than half of Americans are prepared to change their plans so that they don’t come back with empty wallets.

The Breakdown

  • Over half of Americans say gas prices will limit their upcoming travel plans
  • Twenty-two percent of travelers have begun altering their plans to accommodate inflation
  • Top destinations for near-cations include beaches, cities and national and state parks

Based on the survey’s results, 53 percent of Americans say gas prices will stifle their upcoming travel plans. A little more than 20 percent of travelers have even begun shortening their trips and changing their destinations to battle gas prices and inflation. Most notably, a whopping 62 percent of Americans are staying local for their trips.

“The travel industry is bracing for a chaotic summer season, with rising costs upending plans,” said Joel Holland, CEO of Harvest Hosts. “Road travel continues to peak travelers’ interest despite the rising cost of fuel. We’re seeing more travelers opt for shorter trips closer to home, planning quick getaways to nearby destinations. There is so much to explore on the local level and a whole new era of RVing is opening up as the industry shatters its records year after year.”

Apparently, the number of Americans that currently own RVs and campers is still relatively low at 22 percent. However, of the 78 percent that don’t have a camper, 33 percent are considering renting one for their upcoming near-cations.

Evidently, generational groups also determine how different travelers will be spending their vacation days. It seems that Boomers and Gen Z travelers prefer to save their pennies and opt for a near-cation while Millennials are bearing the gas prices and inflations in order to splurge. The study revealed that nearly 60 percent of both Gen Zers and Boomers will stifle their plans to accommodate gas prices. Meanwhile, 53 percent of Millennials will be going forward with their traditional vacation plans as is.

Instead of visiting California wine country or spending a week at an island resort, travelers are looking to get some much-needed R&R at nearby beaches, cities and, Outsider’s personal favorite, national and state parks. While 63 percent of these near-cationers are opting for sandy toes and ocean-front views, over 50 percent are planning on booking a stay at campgrounds.

Last year, our national parks saw over 297 million visitors, per NPS data, and likely, with the 43 percent of travelers that plan on visiting state and national parks, this number is bound to rise.

Because near-cations tend to be more casual, travelers may think that this means they don’t need reservations for outdoor venues like campsites. However, with more people than ever taking advantage of their local recreational sites, reservations at campgrounds are as necessary as at hotels. Not to mention, many parks are implementing timed park entry for visitors to reduce the amount of crowds during the busy season.

Take a look at Outsider’s tips for a successful near-cation.

  1. Opt for a room with a kitchen. If you plan on booking a room somewhere, plan on having a stove and sink. That way, instead of ordering each night of your trip, you can cook your own meals, saving a ton of money on your food and drink budget.
  2. Consider booking during the off-season. While it’s tempting to plan your trip during the height of the busy season for vacations (typically April through September), you can save money on your nightly fee at hotels and campgrounds by booking your stay during the off months.
  3. Save up those gas reward points. Right now, it’s fairly common for gas stations to have rewards programs with grocery or convenience stores. When gas prices are higher than usual, 10 or 20 cents off a gallon can seriously help your piggy bank. Most of these membership cards are free and only require a swipe at the pump.
  4. Stay in the next town over. If you plan on visiting an east coast beach or a happening town like Nashville, consider booking a stay in the neighboring town. You’ll still be able to see the main attractions but won’t have to pay big-town prices for rooms or RV sites.