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Santa hats, stress, pets, vegetarian dishes: Surveys are all the rage

It’s the time of year when travel surveys are running amuck. We’ve got surveys on vegetarian fare at airports, travel-related stress, how may people plan to travel with pets, where they want to go next year — you name it. Here are some of the more interesting results:

STRESS: TripAvisor.com says 43 percent of the people who responded to its survey plan to travel during this holiday season, up five percent compared to 2010. Among them: 51 expect to be stressed by the experience; 8 percent will consume alcohol on a flight, 22 percent will pack holiday-themed jewelry; 10 percent will take Santa hats; 11 percent have bought last-minute gifts at the airport.

PETS: In a separate survey, TripAdvisor found that 44 percent of pet owners had traveled with their pets in the last 12 months, while 47 percent expected to do so in the next 12 months. These pet owners are clearly roadtrippers — 96 expected to travel by car and 12 percent said they would fly (presumably some were planning more than one trip).

WHAT TO DO: SPENDING: When American Express asked which travel experiences people would be most interested in trying, consumers ranked outdoor adventure first (19%), followed by a mystery vacation (16%), culinary-focused experience (13%), holistic spa retreat (12%), volunteerism trip (5%) and a ski holiday (4%).

HEALTHY AIRPORT FOOD: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says the healthiest of the 15 busiest U.S. airports is in Detroit. The committee surveyed every restaurant at each airport to see if it had at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free entrée. Typically, this meant a vegetarian entrée with no cheese. A full 100 percent of the Detroit airport’s restaurants offer at least one such option — veggie burritos, black bean burgers, hummus-and-vegetable platters. Miami tied for sixth place, with 82 percent of its restaurants offering healthful options, and Orlando ranked eighth (80 percent). Fort Lauderdale was not surveyed. Worst, according to the committee, is Atlanta, where only 71 percent of its restaurants had healthy dishes on their menus. The survey also noted that airport restaurants now have significantly more healthy offerings than they did in 2001, when the committee conducted its first serving. Today, an average of 83 percent of airport restaurants meet the committee’s criteria; in 2001, it was 57 percent. Survey details here.  

TOP CITIES: Kayak.com, an online search engine for flights, hotels and rental cars. says in 2011, these were the top ten cities that were searched as flight destinations: 1. Las Vegas; 2. Miami; 3. San Francisco; 4. Orlando; 5. Seattle; 6. Fort Lauderdale; 7. Los Angeles; 8. Denver; 9. Honolulu; 10. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kayak.com also ranked the cities with the biggest increases in hotel rates this year: 1. Miami Beach; 2. Atlantic City; 3. Miami; 4. New Orleans; 5. Paris.