December 20, 2017

Weekend Getaways, Australian Vacation Rentals and Disney Theme Parks: How the U.S. Traveled in 2017

Expedia's year-end travel roundup highlights the most popular destinations, hotels and activities according to traveler data¨ released a year-end look at U.S. traveler behavior and trends for 2017, analyzing data1 to identify the most in-demand destinations, hotels, activities and more.

Among other insights, the roundup revealed:

  • Labor Day was the busiest weekend for car rental
  • Disney¨ Theme Parks topped the list of things to do
  • The average hotel stay was two nights
  • Top destinations based on 2017 air travel included major global cities like New York, London and Bangkok, and popular tourist destinations Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas.

"With millions of searches each year, here at Expedia we're in a unique position to understand traveler behaviors, priorities and overall travel trends," says John Morrey, vice president and general manager, brand. "Looking at this year's top air travel destinations, one thing that stood out to me was that so many of these places were affected by adverse events, like hurricanes and travel advisories. But despite that, the data shows travelers are still interested in and visiting these destinations. We've never doubted the resiliency of travelers, and it's heartening to see that people continue to get out there and see the world."

Expedia¨ hopes these findings provide inspiration and insight for travelers as they begin planning their 2018 travels.

Air Travel

Ever-popular Cancun, New York and Las Vegas topped the list for travelers in 2017, unsurprising given the wide-ranging appeal of each destination for families, couples, business and solo travelers alike. More notable was Spain's representation, with a swell of interest boosting Madrid and Barcelona onto the top five most-searched list.

Most-Searched Destinations (Domestic):

  1. Las Vegas
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Miami
  4. New York
  5. Orlando*

Most-Searched Destinations (International):

  1. Cancun
  2. London
  3. Madrid*
  4. Barcelona*
  5. Bangkok

Most-Booked Destinations (Domestic):

  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Orlando
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Chicago

Most-Booked Destinations (International):

  1. Cancun
  2. London
  3. Mexico City
  4. Paris*
  5. Guadalajara*
*New to the top five in 2017

Accommodations and Amenities


2017 was all about the quick getaway, with the average hotel stay coming in at two nights. When it came to deciding where to stay, travelers were motivated by strong savings at hotels that were centrally-located and close to tourist attractions. The top hotels for 2017 included:

  • Most In-Demand Hotel Overall: Circus Circus Hotel, Casino & Theme Park, Las Vegas
  • Most In-Demand All-Inclusive Hotel: Riu Santa Fe All Inclusive, Cabo San Lucas
  • Most In-Demand Boutique Hotel: The Belvedere Hotel, New York

Vacation Rentals

Meanwhile, Australia dominated the vacation rentals market, taking four of the top five spots. With interest in vacation rentals on the rise, travelers are increasingly attracted by the option of having all the comforts of home while enjoying competitive pricing in hot destinations. These were the top destinations for vacation rentals in 2017:

  1. Melbourne, Australia
  2. Gold Coast, Australia
  3. Orlando, Florida
  4. Sydney, Australia
  5. Brisbane, Australia


Finally, hotel guests enjoyed some serious perks in 2017, most frequently receiving discounts and credits for spa services just by staying at a +VIP Accessª listing. Other commonly awarded freebies included complimentary beverages and late check-out.

Car Rental

Road warriors from coast to coast put the rented pedal to the metal this year, most frequently opting for two- or four-door models over roomier SUVs and passenger vans. Rental car demand peaked on summer Fridays, specifically ahead of Labor Day, July 4th and Memorial Day. These findings come as no surprise to anyone who found themselves in an epic traffic jam during those holiday weekends, and should serve as a reminder to book early or as part of a package to lock in your ride and rate this summer.

The top cities for car rental in 2017 were:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Orlando
  3. Denver
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Atlanta

Attractions, Tours and Experiences

Often activities and attractions are just one part of a vacation, while other times they're the entire reason for the trip. Data from Expedia's Things to Do revealed a mix of both in 2017. The top activity category was Tours & Sightseeing, but the top five activities list was mostly dominated by theme park tickets:

  1. Disneyland¨ Resort Tickets
  2. Walt Disney World¨ Resort Tickets
  3. Ripley's¨ Aquarium of Myrtle Beach
  4. Skip-the-Line: Vatican Museums Tour
  5. Knott's Berry Farm¨ Admission

Las Vegas, NYC and Paris were the top cities for attractions, tours and experiences, proving tourists heading to these destinations were keen to soak up all the sights.

1. All data from point of sale between January 1, 2017-November 15, 2017.

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