Beach, Water Activities, Historical Sites Top the Must-Do Lists for Summer Escapes

LEO, FL ­– Many Americans say they plan to take a vacation in 2019, and a summer escape offers more family time as well as the opportunity to “disconnect” from work, according to a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( study.

The survey was fielded nationally online among 1,000 adults from April 22 through April 29, 2019. When all 1,000 answered questions, the margin of error for results is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.

The Saint Leo poll shows 76.4 percent of respondents say they plan to vacation in 2019, whether that means long weekends, “staycations,” or weeklong stays. The survey shows 8 percent say they are not planning to vacation, but have done so in the past five years, while 7.5 say they do not take vacations, and another 8.1 say they are unsure of their plans.

When it comes to choosing rest and relaxation or lively activities, Americans say they want both, with 46.7 percent of those who will vacation in 2019 or have vacationed in the past five years saying their vacations usually are a combination of passive and active endeavors. Those preferring active vacations account for 33.9 percent in the poll while 16.8 percent of respondents say they like a passive vacation.

Beach, lake, and water activities claim the top spot with 56.3 percent of those who say they will take a vacation when they were asked to name the activities or attractions they typically include on their vacations.

All vacationing respondents were asked to select from a list of more than 20 activities or attractions the ones they typically try to include in their respective vacations. The following table presents the top 10 results collected in declining order by frequency of mention. Multiple responses were accepted.

Vacation Activities / Attractions National – %
Beach/lake/water activities 56.3
Historical site visits 44.8
Museums 40.7
Parks (national) 36.8
Shopping or outlet days 34.0
Parks (state/local) 26.9
Amusement or theme parks 22.4
Cruises 20.3
Zoos 19.2
Music events such as symphonies/concerts 19.1


A spouse or “significant other” accompanies most poll respondents who say they vacation—65.6 percent—while 30.7 percent say they are joined by their children and 21.6 percent say other relatives vacation with them. Some poll respondents vacation solo with 8.1 percent saying “nobody joins me.”

Dr. Pamela Lee, associate professor of management at Saint Leo University, said providing the opportunity for employees to earn vacation days is extremely important for businesses that want a strong organizational culture. “It is a benefit that employees like to have, even if they don’t have specific plans to use their vacation days.”

The Saint Leo poll shows two-thirds (67.7 percent) of people say they plan their vacations “months ahead of time.”

Encouraging employees to use their vacation days is also good for an organization, Lee said. “Some employees prefer to take a day here and there; others prefer to save the days and create a longer experience for rest, travel, or spending time with family,” she said.

The Saint Leo poll shows those who take vacations say they experience many benefits from taking time off. The chart shows the results displayed in declining order. Multiple responses were allowed.

Benefits of Your Vacations National – %
Family / friend time 60.5
Mental health is restored or somewhat restored 53.6
Expand my horizons / knowledge / experiences 52.3
The chance to “disconnect” 50.5
Physical rest 26.9
Physical exercise from my active vacation 25.1
Opportunity to catch up on reading 15.8


“The majority of respondents seem to want to ‘get away from it all,’” said Dr. Christopher Wolfe, assistant professor of psychology at Saint Leo University. “The most popular destinations were focused on outdoor activities—places to soak up the sun or breathe in nature. Others were focused on historical and museum visits to expand their understandings of the world and themselves. As a group, we look toward our vacations for a time for family, mental health restoration, and a chance to disconnect.”

Choosing to unplug from work, social media

For some, vacations are stress-filled and fatiguing the poll shows with 19.3 percent reporting angst and 44.9 percent of vacationers saying they come home from their trips feeling “very tired.”

But for many, vacation is a time to unplug from work and social media. Those taking the poll were presented with several statements. Each vacationing respondent was asked if they strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, somewhat disagreed, or strongly disagreed with each statement. The following table presents the cumulative totals for those strongly or somewhat agreeing with each statement.

Vacation Statements

(Strongly or Somewhat Agree – Combined)

National – %
I will usually come home very tired from my vacations 44.9
Vacations, for me, are stress filled 19.3
I shut down my cell phone while on vacation 40.2
I avoid social media while on vacation 54.3
I shut down work emails while on vacation 55.9


“In this survey, many state that we will be taking our little phones with us and only half plan to separate themselves from work emails or social media,” Wolfe said. “That lingering addiction to the bleeps and blurbs of our phones remains a constant presence, drawing our attention away from the whole point of the vacation.”

Some tips

Wolfe offered some advice for vacationers this year. “Leave the phone ‘in the car,’” he said. “Buy a disposable camera or take your old Polaroid—you won’t be tempted to stare at that.

“Turn off your notifications,” he continued. “Maybe leaving it [the cell phone] behind is too difficult, so look for ways to decrease its impact on you. Update your selections and turn off the notifications.”

For social media, Wolfe said to make a plan for contact with rest of the world. “Choose to only update your status at night or early in the morning,” he advised.

Taking time away from work can enhance employee performance and productivity, Saint Leo’s Lee added. “Vacations provide an opportunity for employees to rest or just do things that they enjoy doing,” she said. “They are able to come back to work with a fresh view or renewed vigor to solve what may be old problems in a new way.”

About the Poll

METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted from April 22 through April 29, 2019, among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally, using an online instrument. The national sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

During the same time frame, the same online survey was administered to a sample of 500 residents of Florida. The Florida poll has a +/- 4.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis).

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

Media contacts: Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).

Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

More About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 12,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 93,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.