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How Vacations Have Changed Over 100 Years

October 5, 2011 By CityPASS

From horse-and-buggies to railroads, and from railroads to station wagons the way we travel has really changed. What we do on our vacations has changed as well, and more and more people are having a hard time leaving work at home when they go!

The graphic below will show you not only how vacations have changed over the last 100 years, but also where people like to go and the kinds of things they're doing while they're away.

[Click to Enlarge]


The Early 19th Century

  • Wealthy class of people were going away to better their health.
  • Growth of religious gatherings, which, also included opportunities for socializing.
  • Schools operated on one of two calendars, neither of which included a summer hiatus.
  • Travel choices: horse or horse-and-buggy for destinations within a day's ride.

The Late 19th Century

  • Railroad offered reasonable fast and safe transportation to far-off destinations.
  • Railroad companies began constructing hotels and guesthouses at desirable destinations.

The 1930s

  • Paid vacation plans began to be offered.
  • Creation of kiddie rides at amusement parks.
  • Vacationers had to prepare their little cars for "auto camping" by installing a detachable wooden trunk to the back of the vehicle.

The 1950s

  • People had more money to spend on buying cars and vacations.
  • Two-week vacation benefit that was available to more than half the population.
  • Construction of interstate highways and more roads.
  • States promoted themselves as tourist destinations quite vigorously.
  • The use of the station wagon for inexpensive and informal tours of national parks and heritage sites.

The 1970s

  • People waited in long lines to get gas for their cars.
  • The travel industry turned away from family vacations and leaned toward niche marketing.
  • Premium trailers came with a stove, a sink, and a refrigerator.

The Present

  • Vacations are more frequent and shorter.
  • Airline use is more frequent
  • Internet has enabled more people to arrange vacations through the following:
    1. booking flights
    2. hotel reservations
    3. villas
    4. car hire direct

Vacation Statistics

  • 67% of vacationers like to "chill" at the beach, with 26% stating a pool is better.
  • 55% would rather get up early than sleep late when they're on vacation.
  • 32% of women read to relax, compared to only 18% of men.
  • 25% of men find liquor appealing and only 15% of women find it to be best relaxation option.
  • Employed adults in the United States on average receive about 13 vacation days per year.
  • 34% of employed U.S. adults usually do not take all of the vacation days they receive each year.
  • Barriers to full use of vacation days include:
    1. Getting money back for unused vacation days (11%)
    2. The need to schedule vacation time in advance (10%)
    3. A spouse/partner who is unable to get away from his/her job (10%)
  • 24% of employed adults check work email.
  • The number of long-distance Thanksgiving trips increases by 54%.
  • Christmas/New Year's Holiday period, that number rises by 23%.
  • About 91% of vacation travel is done with a personal vehicle, such as a car.
  • 99% of the long-distance trips begin during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • 3% of long-distance travel is international.
  • Visits to friends and family account for 53% of all Thanksgiving long-distance trips and 43% of long-distance trips during Christmas.
  • About 1 in 5 employed adults also reported that they've cancelled or postponed vacation plans because of work.
  • Men are more likely than women to take a 2-week vacation (12% men vs. 8% women)
  • Women are more likely than men to feel guilty about taking time off from work (40% women vs. 29% men).
  • The average Thanksgiving long-distance trip length is 214 miles, compared with 275 miles over the Christmas/New Year's holiday.

The World's Top Destination - 2009

Country - Arrivals (millions)

  1. France - 74.2
  2. United States - 54.88
  3. Spain - 52.88
  4. China - 50.88
  5. Italy - 43.24
  6. UK - 28.2
  7. Turkey - 25.51
  8. Germany - 24.22
  9. Malaysia - 23.65
  10. Mexico - 21.45

America's Most-Visited Cities - 2009

City - Visitors (millions)

  1. Orlando - 48
  2. New York City - 47
  3. Chicago - 45.58
  4. Anaheim/Orange County - 42.7
  5. Miami - 38.1
  6. Las Vegas - 36.35
  7. Atlanta - 35.4
  8. Houston - 31.1
  9. Philadelphia - 30.32
  10. San Diego - 29.6

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