Americans Tend to Pinch Pennies at Home, Splurge Abroad, on Travel

by  Liz Webber | May 10, 2012
Passport / goodmoments/iStock

While local economies in our favorite travel destinations may still be feeling the pinch of the global recession – especially in international locales – the hotel industry continues to bounce back (though prices have yet to reach pre-recession levels). According to the annual Hotel Price Index the cost to book a room increased by 4 percent worldwide from 2010 to 2011, with the biggest jumps in the Pacific (8 percent) and North America (5 percent).

What really struck us about this year’s survey, however, was the comparison of what different nationalities tend to pay for a hotel room in their own countries versus what they shell out while abroad. Turns out Americans are the second thriftiest when it comes to what they’ll plunk down for a hotel in the U.S. – paying an average of $120/night – while at the same time splurging when traveling outside the country, where they pay around $171/night. (Only Australians, the Japanese, and the Swiss pay more.)

Why this vast difference in habits? We can only speculate, but perhaps Americans are willing to spend a little more for their special trips out of the country. It could also be that our “vacations” in the U.S. are often spent visiting the in-laws or stopping at roadside motels on the way to a destination, where hotel prices tend to be lower. To that end, room rates in European capitals and Caribbean resorts, two of the most popular international destinations for Americans, tend to be on the high side.

Regardless of the motivation, we’d like to help our fellow Americans spend a little less when they visit other countries. One option is to find a hotel a little farther from the city center, or not directly on the beach in an exotic locale. It also helps to be flexible on travel dates – a hotel maybe lower its rates significantly if it needs to fill rooms on certain dates or days of the week (look for low weekend rates at properties in the business district, for example). Finally, we always recommend travelers consider visiting their preferred destination during the shoulder season, when hotel prices tend to be lower but weather conditions are still optimal.

Summer is off season for the Caribbean, so now is a great time to be looking for hotel deals. And even though travel to Europe is at its peak, there are still bargains to be found, if you know where to look. Here’s a selection of our top travel deals for this season:

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