For many Americans, summer means a chance to take a break. Kids are off from school, many offices offer shortened workdays on Fridays, and countless people save up some of their vacation days to hit the road.

The warm weather lends itself to travel. In addition, a strong economy and low unemployment give people the confidence needed to take time off.

Those factors all contribute to why 71% of Americans plan to take a vacation this summer (from May through September), according to a new survey from Discover. That's up from 58% last year.

A map is shown along with plane tickets and coffee with an airplane drawn in the foam.

More Americans are planning short trips this summer. Image source: Getty Images.

What types of vacations are being planned?

While lots of people are hitting the road (or taking to the skies), most have very modest travel plans. More than half (55%) of respondents who plan to take a vacation said it will last one to three days. That compares with 21% planning a four-to-six-day trip, 12% going away for a week, and 6% who will be traveling for eight to 13 days. Only 5% expect to take a vacation that lasts two weeks or more.

The survey of 2,536 U.S. adults, which was conducted on behalf of Discover by YouGov, also showed Americans are planning their trips with relatively short notice. About half (46%) planned their vacation within three months of taking it, while 26% said four to six months and 11% said seven to nine months. Only 8% had been working on their plans for more than a year.

Younger generations travel more than older ones. More than three-quarters of Generation Z (77%) and millennials (76%) plan to take summer trips. That's higher than baby boomers (67%) and the Silent Generation (60%). The survey also showed that 21% of Generation Z would be open to staying in a rented home, while only 16% of millennials, 8% of baby boomers, and 5% of the Silent Generation feel that way.

Of the things listed below, what do you want MOST when it comes to your vacation?

Total

Gen Z

Millennials

Gen X

Boomers

Silent

Relaxation

34%

18%

28%

39%

41%

34%

Adventure

10%

17%

14%

10%

6%

5%

To explore a new city/destination

20%

24%

22%

18%

18%

19%

An exciting nightlife

3%

4%

5%

3%

1%

1%

Practice your passion (e.g., photography, yoga, etc.)

3%

5%

4%

3%

2%

1%

A volunteer/social purpose

2%

8%

2%

2%

0%

-

Spend time with friends/family

28%

25%

25%

26%

31%

40%

Chart source: Discover.

What can you do?

It's important to take a break from work, and planning (and taking) a trip can be a way to recharge. Not being at home can make it easier to relax and not spend your time off on your computer or checking your phone.

It's important, however, to make sure that any trips you take don't break your budget. Being spontaneous has its advantages -- some travel deals can be last minute -- but you still need to be responsible.

If you can afford a last-minute trip, then, by all means, take one. If you can't, then it's time to start planning for a future vacation. You might set aside a small amount of money each month or even book a far-off trip that lets you pay in interest-free installments. (Some cruise lines allow this.)

The last thing you want is for your relaxing trip to create long-term stress because you really can't afford it. Take the time to plan your vacation so it's within your means, and you'll be a lot happier in the long run.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.