If you’re planning a summer vacation this year, get ready for more crowds on the road and in the air.
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds vacation spending finally returning to prerecession levels. The average respondent plans to lay out about $1,900 for a family getaway. In the first year of the recession, that number dipped down to $1,700.
Vacation spending plans is one of a series of gauges in the June survey of 815 Americans across the country that have recovered, however belatedly, to precrisis levels. Among the others: The percentage of Americans expecting gains in their wages and their home values are at or near the best levels in years. However, Americans continue to anticipate lower gains in both areas compared to 2007.
Driving is the most popular choice for traveling this summer, with 61 percent of respondents saying they’ll get behind the wheel to get away. Half of those who drive do so because it’s the most convenient option. About 40 percent say they’ll drive because it’s the most affordable option.
Just a quarter of the public will fly to their summer destination, with about half pinning the choice on speed. Despite long airport security lines, crowded planes and myriad fees, few American say these factors keep them grounded. A third do, however: They have chosen not to fly because of high ticket prices.
A substantial 47 percent of Americans say they will take no summer vacation, although this represents a return to the prerecession level. It’s also an improvement from 2008 when it hit 51 percent. The data break sharply along income lines: 70 percent of those with incomes below $30,000 say they plan no summer break compared with 29 percent for those with incomes above $100,000.
Expectations for home-price gains continues to be a major determinant of spending plans, with 70 percent of those who believe their home values will go down not taking a vacation. Those expecting home price gains will spend $2,100 on average, well above the overall level.
—By CNBC’s Steve Liesman. Follow him on Twitter @steveliesman.