The places you’ll go: Where top entrepreneurs and innovators plan to vacation in 2017

We already know that the entrepreneurs, executives, and business innovators who make up FoundersCard’s 20,000+ members are road warriors — but we mostly hear about how you’re traveling for business. We figure you’ve got to relax every once in awhile, so as the year winds down we decided to do a little bit of research into what your plans are for leisure travel next year. This survey, which Business Insider has written about as well, was conducted in the last week of November 2016 from a random sampling of 334 active FoundersCard members based in the United States — who run the gamut from tech startup founders to independent consultants to leading creative agency CEOs.

What’d we learn? We learned that the overwhelming majority of respondents are accustomed to taking trips that combine business and leisure, and plan to continue to do so in 2017. We also learned that “workcations” — taking a trip to switch up location while still working full- or part-time — are rising in popularity as remote work gains mainstream acceptance.

But there’s a complication: As much as respondents are eager to combine business with vacation, they also want to unplug. The overwhelming majority of those surveyed say they want to “relax and unplug” on a vacation in 2017. We’ve got a theory about that: Unplugging completely is something hardworking business owners can’t do much, if at all, and by adopting a hybrid work-leisure mentality for most of the vacation they take, entrepreneurs may be able to afford themselves an opportunity to really disconnect once or twice on a different trip.

We also noticed that this entrepreneurial demographic is willing to go the distance for a beach getaway. Oceanfront destinations close to major U.S. cities ranked low (with Miami as the exception), but Hawaii and the Caribbean are among respondents’ top planned destinations for 2017.

We’ve seen a lot of headlines about the resurgence of travel agents recently, whether human or artificial intelligence-based. But this is a demographic that might be hard to win over: Only 1% of respondents say they rely on travel agents to book their vacation.

Here are our full results…

Work hard, play hard: Top entrepreneurs plan to be on the road for leisure a lot in 2017.

  • Half (51%) of those surveyed say they plan to take 5-10 trips for leisure in 2017. Another 23% say they anticipate they’ll travel for leisure monthly.
  • For 45% of respondents, this will be more leisure travel than they took in 2016. For 46%, it’s about the same. (Only 9% say they’ll be traveling less.)
  • 47% of respondents say they’ll be spending more money on leisure travel than they did in 2016; 42% say it’ll be about the same. 11% plan to spend less.
  • Respondents overwhelmingly choose to book their own leisure travel — nearly 90% do so, with most of the rest saying that their spouses or partners are the primary vacation bookers in their households. As for travel agents? Only 1% of respondents say they’re avid customers.

21st-century entrepreneurs mix work and leisure regularly — and they don’t have a problem with it.

  • 81% of respondents say they take trips that combine business and leisure.
  • 51% of respondents say that they plan to do this in 2017 on more than one occasion.
  • 23% of respondents say that they will be traveling in 2017 with the specific aim of co-working or a “workcation” for a change of scenery. This is a new kind of travel that barely existed a few years ago, and we expect to see it continue to rise in popularity.

What are entrepreneurs’ goals for 2017 travel? Exploring new places and turning off those iPhones.

  • 84% of respondents say they plan to take vacation in 2017 to a destination that they’ve never been to before. 49% say they plan to go somewhere familiar that they visit a lot.
  • Getting a break from the entrepreneurial life is key, apparently. 80% of respondents say they will be taking a vacation to relax and unplug in 2017.
  • Roughly 40% of respondents chose at least one of the following vacation goals when asked what would shape their travel plans in 2017:
    • Partying and nightlife
    • Adventure travel (ski, surf, etc.)
    • Bonding with loved ones in a family-friendly environment
    • Celebrating anniversaries or milestones (honeymoons, bachelor parties)
  • Looks like many entrepreneurs prefer to leave their competitive spirit back in the office: Only 15% of respondents said they plan to travel to complete a physical challenge or “bucket list” item like a marathon or a mountain summit.
  • There’s still a ton of opportunity for the burgeoning wellness industry to reach the entrepreneurial demographic: Only 14% of respondents are planning wellness-centric vacations (e.g. yoga, meditation, spa resorts).
  • The least popular 2017 travel aim was “voluntourism,” with only 7% of respondents saying they would be taking a trip with the aim of volunteer work or traveling with a nonprofit. (We don’t think it’s because they’re uncharitable! More likely, it’s because this kind of travel often requires carving more time out of your schedule that busy entrepreneurs have.)
  • Not the biggest fans of ball drops: When we asked our members where they plan to be for New Year’s Eve, 40% responded with “home.”

Where to? Here are FoundersCard members’ most popular vacation destinations in 2017

Within the U.S.
For the ultimate escape to relax and unplug, FoundersCard members are willing to go the distance — even if that means leaving the lower 48. The state specified the most frequently in 2017 vacation plans was Hawaii, but California eclipsed it if you counted particular regions like wine country, Palm Springs, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Ski destinations in Colorado like Vail, Aspen, and Beaver Creek added up to making the Centennial State one of the most popular states on the list. With regard to individual cities, nightlife-friendly destinations like Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York City came in strong. But with the exception of Florida and Hawaii, U.S.-based beach destinations were far less popular than we expected, perhaps due to the overwhelming popularity of easy-to-reach Caribbean islands.

Around the globe
The three most popular international destinations for American tourists overall are Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and sure enough, those were also the three most-visited destinations for FoundersCard members (the top Canadian destination was ski resort Whistler, BC; the U.K. was dominated by London; Mexico was a split between the likes of Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and Mexico City). But dig a little deeper and it gets interesting. If you counted the votes for all Caribbean islands, including multi-island trips by sailboat or (less commonly) cruise ship, as a single destination, they would have been the top choice by far — and the two most popular Caribbean destinations for U.S. tourists overall, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, were nowhere near the front of the pack, instead surpassed by the likes of Turks & Caicos, St. Maarten, and Cuba. When Caribbean island nations are ranked separately, only the Bahamas ranks in the top ten.

Unsurprisingly, Italy was the most popular destination on the European continent, but other European destinations that rank high with U.S. tourists overall — France and Spain, for example — fell behind Japan and were neck-and-neck with the likes of Thailand, Indonesia (especially Bali), and Iceland when it comes to FoundersCard members’ vacation plans.

Are you a FoundersCard member looking to see the world in 2017? As always, get in touch if there’s any way that we can be of assistance.