Popular Ways to Pack & Plan for Summer Travel in 2023

The arrival of summer carries with it the promise of adventure and relaxation. As we look forward to warmer days, let's explore today’s top summer travel trends of 2023, curated packing lists for city and beach vacations, and tips on choosing the perfect summer destination.

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summer travel trends

As summer approaches, many of us are eagerly planning our vacation getaways. But where are people heading in 2023, and what are the top trends shaping our travel plans? Recently, we surveyed hundreds of Knackpackers and asked them their thoughts on a wide range of summer travel topics and wanted to share the results to help with your summer travel planning. So start reading and get traveling!

Summer Travel 2023: Planning, Destinations, and How to Get There

The Planning Process

The thrill of summer travel begins with the planning process. The Knackpacker community tends to be way ahead of the game with 52% saying they are completely finished with summer travel plans by February! But for all of you spur-of-the-moment travelers, never fear: 10% do not arrange their summer travel plans until the season itself has begun!

Digging a bit deeper, our survey shows that men and women tend to do their planning at different times. Women spread their planning over a wider timeframe, starting a bit earlier on average (before January) and extending a bit later (from June on) than men. 

when do you plan summer travel

Forbes Magazine recently spotlighted a post-pandemic shift towards proactive summer travel planning. With restrictions easing and travel becoming more predictable, people are now more comfortable booking their trips in advance. This return to 'normal' adds a refreshing change to our travel discussions, with data indicating more people are considering their summer plans earlier than in past years. So, whether you're an early planner or prefer to book closer to your departure date, maintaining flexibility and being alert to potential deals can help ensure a successful travel experience.

>>MORE: Getting a Passport: Plan Ahead

Travel Locations

As for preferred summer locations, beaches (56% of all respondents) and cities (55% of all respondents) are equally popular among Knackpackers. Countryside and mountain destinations also hold their own charm, with 43% and 40% of travelers saying that their summer trip includes these serene locations.

In terms of geographical preference, while the majority of Knackpackers (55%) are planning their escapades here in the US, there's a significant group (28%) who are only planning to venture overseas. Among these globetrotters, it's interesting to note that men are 77% more likely to travel internationally this summer than women.

are you traveling domestically or internationally this summer

No matter where they travel, Knackpackers are open to a wide variety of accommodations. Traditional options, such as hotels and resorts, still hold appeal, winning the preference of 43% of travelers. These establishments offer a wide array of amenities that can enhance any vacation experience. Meanwhile, Airbnb or other rental services, offering a home-away-from-home experience, are the choice for 22% of Knackpackers. The appeal of these rentals often lies in their ability to provide more personalized and unique lodgings that enable travelers to immerse themselves in local life.

Furthermore, staycations are becoming increasingly popular among Knackpackers. These home-based holidays provide an opportunity to rediscover local attractions and appreciate the familiar from a fresh perspective.  For those who wish to relish the comforts of home while still enjoying a break, check out our recent post for tips on how to transform your everyday surroundings into the perfect staycation getaway.

>>MORE: Staycation Ideas for Couples Who Need a Break from Everyday Life

Mode of Transportation

mode of transportation for summer travel

Trains, planes and automobiles! We’re not talking about the Steve Martin movie, but Knackpackers’ summer transportation preferences. Airplanes (41%) and personal vehicles (37%) emerge as the top way to get to their destination, followed by trains (14%). These options offer various advantages, from the speed and convenience of air travel to the freedom and flexibility of road trips. By the way, the “Other” category shows the eclectic nature of Knackpacker travel and includes RVs, cruise ships, ferries, sailboats, and buses.

mode of transportation for summer travel

In line with the preference of our Knackpacker community, a poll conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of The Vacationer reveals that more than 54% of American adults intend to travel by plane in 2023. That is an impressive 8 million more people than stated they would be traveling by plane in 2022.


Packing for the Perfect Summer Trip

What Bags are People Taking this Summer?

Knack is all about using the same bag for travel that you use every day. Not surprisingly, Knackpackers appreciate the concept of One Bag living and 39% say they will only use a backpack during their travels this summer (we assume it’s a Knack!).

However, for those people taking long summer trips (or for overpackers), sometimes a backpack won’t do. As a result, 40% of Knackpackers say they will bring a rolling bag as their primary summer travel bag.

When it comes to what they look for in their primary summer travel bag, size is key. 78% of Knackpackers rank size as the number one feature they look for in their travel bag. The next three travel bag characteristics are way down the list with 11% of Knackpackers saying that durability is the top thing they look for, followed by organization (9% mention this as the top feature) and weight (2%).  

What’s Getting Packed this Summer?

 what to pack for summer travel

But what are these summer travelers packing? Apart from clothing, toiletries, and footwear, the must-have items in their bags include sunscreen (22%), batteries or chargers (19%), sunglasses (13%), and water bottles (13%). Don’t forget to include these in your summer travel packing list!

Diving into the essentials for two of the most popular summer destinations—cities and beaches—let's highlight Knackpackers’ packing must-haves:

For a City Adventure:

  • Lightweight clothing for hot days and a light jacket for cooler evenings
  • Comfortable shoes for exploring
  • A city map and travel guidebook
  • Portable battery/charger for your phone
  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Sunglasses and a hat for sun protection

For a Beach Getaway:

  • Swimsuits and beach cover-ups
  • Beach towel and a good sunscreen
  • Flip-flops or sandals for the sand
  • A beach bag to carry your essentials
  • Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat
  • A reusable water bottle

Don’t forget to pack basics like toiletries, medications, and important documents, all of which can fit comfortably in the various pockets and compartments of your Knack Pack.

>>MORE: How to Make a Perfect Travel Packing List

How Can You Pack Light and Still Have Everything You Need?

how to pack light for summer travel

By prioritizing your essentials and thinking strategically about your packing choices, you can pack light and still have everything you need for a memorable summer getaway.

  • Choose versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. 
  • Opt for lightweight and wrinkle-resistant fabrics that can be easily rolled to allow more space in your bag. 
  • Try to minimize the number of shoes you pack by selecting a pair that is comfortable for walking and suitable for different occasions. Use a compressible shoe bag to help save space and keep your dirty shoes separate from your clean clothes. 
  • Utilize travel-size toiletries and consider packing multi-purpose items like a sarong that can double as a beach cover-up or a picnic blanket. 
  • Pack travel-friendly accessories such as a collapsible water bottle to stay hydrated on the go.
  • Utilize expandable packing cubes, which can be conveniently removed from your Knack Pack, transforming it from a travel bag into an everyday carry.
  • Choose a bag, like a Knack Pack that expands to accommodate travel needs and compresses for day-to-day exploring.

>>MORE: Efficient Clothing Packing Tips for One Bag Travel


Discovering Where to Go this Summer

Domestic or International? Touring or relaxing? Country or city? The choices for summer travel go on and on and can seem overwhelming. Where should you turn to get the inside information on what to do this summer? If you’re like Knackpackers, your top three primary sources of summer travel inspiration are:

  • Online recommendations and reviews (41%)
  • Recommendations from personal acquaintances (30%)
  • Travel guides (23%)

Regardless of where you get your info, most people will need to consider opinions other than their own when planning summer travel as most people travel with others.  61% of Knackpackers are traveling exclusively with other people this summer and only 27% will be traveling solo.

One of the joys of summer travel is unplugging and getting away from the daily grind. As a group, Knackpackers really set aside time for summer travel with 77% planning trips of seven days or more (hopefully, these folks going on long summer trips convince the 8% of Knackpackers who are only planning to travel for 3 days or less this summer to take more time off next year!).

how many days do you plan to travel this summer

>>MORE: Ready to Go? Our Top Summer Traveling Tips

With so many summer travel options available, it's helpful to weigh your interests, budget, and preferred experiences as you think about where to go and what to do. Here are some tips to help you discover your ideal summer getaway:

  1. Reflect on your interests: Think about the activities and experiences that bring you joy. Are you a beach lover who enjoys lounging in the sun and taking a dip in the ocean? Or do you prefer exploring vibrant cities with rich history and cultural attractions? Consider your hobbies, such as hiking, water sports, or exploring local cuisine, and find a destination that aligns with your interests.
  2. Determine your budget: Before you start researching destinations, establish a budget for your summer vacation. Consider your travel expenses, accommodation, dining, and activities. Be realistic about what things will cost and look for destinations that offer good value for your money. 
  3. Research destinations: Once you have an idea of your interests and budget, start researching potential destinations. Look for travel guides, online reviews, and recommendations from friends and family. Explore different regions and countries that offer the experiences you're looking for. Consider factors like weather, safety, local attractions, and the availability of activities during the summer months.
  4. Consider travel restrictions: Check the current travel restrictions and requirements for your potential destinations. Due to the ever-changing global situation, it's crucial to stay informed about any entry requirements, quarantine regulations, or travel advisories that may affect your plans. Choose a destination that aligns with your comfort level and ensures a smooth travel experience.
  5. Seek unique experiences: While popular tourist destinations can be great choices, don't overlook off-the-beaten-path locations that offer unique experiences. Research hidden gems, lesser-known destinations, or local festivals happening during the summer. These experiences can provide a more authentic and memorable vacation.

Remember, the perfect summer destination is subjective and varies from person to person. Trust your instincts, follow your interests, and choose a location that resonates with you when deciding where to travel this summer. Whether it's a tropical beach paradise, a bustling city adventure, or a tranquil countryside retreat, your ideal summer destination awaits. With your Knack Pack ready, here's to a summer filled with unforgettable experiences and adventures!

We’d love to hear how you plan your summer travel. You can reach out to us at support@knackbags.com. Also, please tag @knackbags and use #knackbags on social media when you take your Knack on your journeys!

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