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American Vacation Has Limited Choices

Chevy Chase immortalized the American vacation with the Griswold family’s cross-country journey to Wally World.  That was the travel scene in the 1980s before Covid-19, inflation, forest fires, thermal inversions, flash floods, passport processing snafus, sold out National Parks, double digit lodging taxes, shortages of hospitality workers, road construction delays, crime in major cities, summer sports camps, and playing games on devices.

The Slip ‘N Slide, back yard blowup pool, state fair and nearby amusement park have all become just like summer morning imagination – they have disappeared.

Americans want and need vacations, but the simple notion of a trip to the beach, a visit to a state or national park, or a visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is getting way too complicated when the kids can just stay home and play on their devices. Here is a chart from Bankrate showing national interest in vacations in 2023:

Favorite destinations have not changed much according to the Bankrate study:

But affordability is the number one reason families are opting for the Staycation in 2023:

The big story of the 2023 summer, however, has been the weather. Starting with forest fires in Canada, and continuing to flooding in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York, heat waves in the southwest, 95-degree water in the Gulf of Mexico, grandma baking bread in her mailbox in Montgomery County Texas and perpetual fog in Maine. The idea of a trip anywhere where weather is a factor seems iffy. When you consider the likelihood of an airline taking off or landing as promised is just about the same as your odds as winning the July 18, Powerball that now stands at over $1.0 Billion, you probably will want something more reliable? And if you are thinking about something outside the USA and need to renew a passport, the advertised wait time is 7-11 weeks, and that is only if you expedite for $130. A free passport renewal may require vacation planning for 2024.

While we joked about Cleveland becoming the beneficiary of global warming, the “Mistake on the Lake” has become the “BelieveLand”. I checked the weather stats for May and June 2023 in Cleveland and there was only 1.24 inches of rain in May, slightly less than 4.0 inches in June and no days with a temperature above 87 degrees. The only day where the temperature hit 90 was July 5th.

This does not take into account the water temperature of Lake Erie is now 72 degrees and the Lake acts like a big air conditioner to keep things cool. There are public beaches and fishing and amusement parks, and a ring of county parks called the Emerald Necklace comprising thousands of acres of outdoor fun. You don’t need a passport. You can watch faster Major League Baseball and explore the history of Rock N Roll. The Cleveland Art Museum is world class and admission is free. The Cleveland Orchestra plays summer concerts on the lawn at Blossom Music Center. You can get a burger and a beer for less than $50. Traffic jams are rare.

While Wally World kind of adventures are no longer available for the American family, there are many parts of the USA where simple pleasures, good weather, crime-free visits, affordable meals and lodging, and natural beauty all are accessible. Cleveland might be your next Wally World adventure?

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Rob McCreary

Rob McCreary has more than 40 years of transactional experience as an attorney, investment banker and private equity fund manager, and has spent his career in building entrepreneurial organizations with successful track records. Founder and chairman of CW Industrial Partners (originally CapitalWorks, LLC), he is responsible for developing and maintaining senior relationships with investors and portfolio governance.

This blog represents the views of Rob McCreary and do not reflect those of CW Industrial Partners or its employees. This blog is not intended as investment advice. Any discussion of a specific security is for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon as indicative of such security’s current or future value. Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before making an investment decision.