Given our location on the world map, Australians have never shied away from travel. And when it comes to plans for 2024, the trends won’t surprise you. More than three-quarters of Australians plan to take at least three leisure trips in 2024 alone. That’s a holiday every four months: if not even more frequently.

At least, that’s what respondents had to say as part of the American Express 2024 Global Travel Trends Report. Each year, Amex takes a deep dive into the habits of travellers to reveal how and why we’re all travelling, and how much we’re spending. And as it happens, frequent flyer points are becoming even more popular when it comes to saving cold hard cash. But you probably need no convincing there!

Aussies take to the skies, while watching their expenses

Across leisure trips taken this year, travellers will each spend $9,131 on average – or just over $3,000 per trip. This covers flights, hotels, meals and everything else. But especially in light of recent cost of living pressures, a staggering 89% are looking for savings at every turn.

Most leisure travellers surveyed will consider flying off-peak or turning to credit card points – such as via Amex Membership Rewards – to bring down their real cash costs. In our view, both of these can be smart strategies to reduce the sting to the hip pocket. Especially so for domestic flights, where a one-way ticket could cost hundreds in cash, but be bookable for $45-$75 when using points.

To give a personal example, I’ve just planned a quick trip to Canberra. In one direction, I’ve used points, and on the other leg, I’ve spent dollars buying a fare as usual. On the points leg, my cash outlay was $71 on that flight to cover the taxes, fees and carbon offset. But the paid flight cost $271 (also including carbon offset) – and I chose to fly at a less-expensive time to avoid pricier flights that day. By putting my points to work, I’ve saved an easy $200. And by flying off-peak on the return, I saved a further $100 compared to taking an earlier flight.

In fact, according to the Global Travel Trends Report, some will go even further. Deliberately booking a cheaper connecting flight rather than a more expensive non-stop is a favourite trick of 21% of respondents. For 18%, taking an overnight flight also provides a very welcome and deliberate opportunity to trim hotel costs on longer routes.

Also read: Why I happily spend (some of) my points on domestic Economy

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A staggering four in five travellers actively search for the best flight deals before locking down their plans. This could mean booking airfares on sale, using points, hunting for the cheapest offer and more. But why? Not usually to save cash, but most often, to redirect that money towards a nicer hotel stay.

Australians will even make cuts to their food and beverage spending to travel, suggests the Global Travel Trends Report. Costs like daily coffees from cafes are ripe for the trimming, with 73% of those surveyed willing to sacrifice their coffee shop caffeine if it means being able to travel. The same is said of food delivery apps, versus making the effort to collect meals for takeaway the old-fashioned way.

Funnily enough, more than two-thirds of respondents would also sacrifice outings with friends in their home city if it means being able to venture further afield. Surprisingly though, despite the cost-conscious sentiment, travelling in 2024 isn’t all about saving a dollar.

For 77% of those surveyed, having the right travel experience is more important than the cost of the trip. But of course, if those costs can be kept under control, even better!

If you’re reading Point Hacks, you already know that spending points can be a great way to save on travel. But interestingly, the younger a traveller, the more interest they seem to take in loyalty programs – according to the Global Travel Trends Report.

This is a growing trend we’re witnessing among our own Card Members who are increasingly seeking ways to use Membership Rewards points to secure flights, accommodation and other travel perks.

– Corinne Ng, American Express Asia Pacific’s VP and GM of Travel and Lifestyle Services, March 2024

Drilling down on age, 44% of baby boomers planned to use points to reduce the costs of their travel. For Gen X, that climbs to 58% – and for millennials and Gen Z, it jumps to 67%, or more than two-thirds. Younger travellers were also more likely to call on the help of a professional travel advisor, which appeals to 57% of millennials but only 39% of baby boomers.

If you’d like to put the power of your points to work but need a helping hand, try our new Point Hacks Concierge service. Simply tell us how many points you have, along with where, when and how you’d like to fly, and we’ll get to work finding reward seats to suit.

Where are Australians travelling to?

Keeping the focus on costs, 19% of respondents are planning a cruise. For this group, it’s the comparative savings that appeal, where cruising is seen as a more cost-effective method of travel.

That said, over one-third of travellers are venturing skywards to tick things off their bucket lists. A further 20% are travelling for large sporting events and concerts. And when talking about international travel, events and concerts are the main motivator for one-third of those flying for leisure.

Solo travel is also on the rise. And of course, it’s much easier to find a great flight using points when you only need one seat.

Aussies are favouring the freedom and wellness benefits of solo travel. Solo travel is a wonderful way to unwind and discover a new hobby. Travelling alone also allows you to take ownership of selecting the perfect destination and gives you the ability to curate the ideal itinerary, catered just for you.

– Corinne Ng, American Express Asia Pacific’s VP and GM of Travel and Lifestyle Services, March 2024

Of the Australians travelling this year, almost two-thirds are planning at least one solo trip. For 29%, it’s a way of treating themselves – while 27% welcome to break from their usual day-to-day routine.

Also read: Booking flights using points – Economy vs Business Class

Feature image courtesy of American Express.

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Aussies holiday three times a year: Amex Travel Trends Report was last modified: March 19th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin