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Nearly all of Seattle has vacation plans. Here’s what they’re doing

by Staff

Seattle can be a pretty gloomy place this time of year. That might have you dreaming of your next vacation. If so, you’re not alone.

The pandemic put a damper on vacationing for a while, but data shows that travel slump is behind us. In fact, we just hit a record high for the number of people planning a vacation.

Survey data from market-research giant Nielsen shows more than 86% of adults in the Seattle market area — a projected 3.9 million people — were planning at least one vacation in the next 12 months. The surveys were conducted from January to July 2023, with nearly 2,000 respondents in the Seattle area.

That is the highest percentage of Seattle-area folks with upcoming vacations since Nielsen first asked this question in 2017. The record jibes with reports from industry experts who predict 2024 will be a banner year for the travel economy, even beating out the pre-pandemic era.

Compared with people in other major market areas, Seattle residents love to travel. Among the 15 largest metros, Seattle ranked No. 1 in the new Nielsen data for the percentage of adults with vacation plans. New York City ranked last, with 57% saying they planned a trip in the next 12 months.

Even at the height of pandemic restrictions, about 69% of Seattle-area adults had vacation plans, according to data collected between August 2020 and February 2021. At that time, though, a lot of people took more modest vacations to destinations reachable by car.

Nielsen data shows that, regardless of the destination, a large share of Seattle-area residents — about 45% — said they were taking their planned vacation as a family.

Among the types of destinations, a beach or lake vacation was the most popular choice by far, selected by 38%.

Not everybody likes a relaxing holiday. Some folks are looking for an adrenaline rush, and 18% in the Seattle area said they were going on an “adventure” vacation in the next 12 months. A similar number planned to head to the mountains. Theme parks, all-inclusive resorts and cruises were a little less popular choices, each at about 11% to 12%.

Golf or tennis destinations were the most unpopular choice for Seattle-area vacationers, at about 3%. Tour-group and spa vacations were also unpopular here, both less than 5%.

Note that these numbers add up to more than 100% because survey respondents could select more than one choice — they might have had more than one type of vacation planned in the next 12 months.

While the overwhelming majority of adults in the Seattle area said they planned a vacation in the next 12 months, about 600,000 — roughly 13% — said they were staying put.

Who are they?

It can, of course, become harder to travel as we age. So it’s understandable that a relatively high share of people 70 and older, 26% of them, did not have vacation plans, according to Nielsen.

Never-married singles in the Seattle area were much more likely than married people to stay home, at about 19%. Just 10% of those who were married did not have vacation plans.

Seattle-area men were a little less inclined to vacation than women. About 15% of men didn’t have a trip planned, compared with 12% of women.

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