busy roads, expensive flights and ways to save


If you stayed out of last summer’s crowded, expensive, and overbooked travel season in the hope of cheaper and easier getaways this year, you may be out of luck.

Sixty-three percent of American adults plan to travel this summer, up from 61% at this time last year, according to a recent survey by Bankrate, a provider of consumer finance data. Airlines are bracing for high demand and aviation authorities are warning of another season of disrupted flights.

The expectations arise as inflation eased to 4.9% in April after peaking at 9.1% last June and as the Biden administration’s end to the pandemic emergency officially concludes the era of travel restrictions. Covid-related travel, which have largely evaporated anyway.

Customers are simply willing to pay whatever it costs to do what they have been waiting for three years.

Sandy Staples, owner of Artistico Travel

This summer, the richest people are increasingly planning to shell out for travel, while those with lower incomes are pulling out, industry analysts and travel experts say.

“Customers are just willing to pay whatever it takes to get what they’ve been wanting for three years,” said Sandy Staples, owner of luxury travel agency Artistico Travel in Granite Bay, California.

“We have clients going on a massive cruise,” he said, “and round-trip business class airfare to Iceland was over $11,000 per person. They paid it.

Passengers check in at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in January. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Among households making more than $100,000 a year, 81% are likely to take summer vacations, Bankrate found, up from 75% last year. At the other end of the spectrum, just 54% of households making less than $50,000 said the same, up from 56% a year ago.

Many travel costs continue to rise faster than headline inflation, said Sally French, a travel expert at personal finance company NerdWallet. “Because inflation is already high, this summer will be difficult for people looking to travel affordably,” she said.

But rather than ditch summer getaway plans altogether, 80% of travelers told Bankrate they’re looking for ways to economize.

Although the prices of plane tickets have fell only 0.9% Gasoline prices have plummeted more than 12% in the last year, inflation figures show. Hopper airfare tracker predicts domestic round-trip costs for climb as high as $328 for June — $72 less than last summer’s record spike, but still 4% higher than before the pandemic. That’s why travelers like Terri Johnson of Ocala, Florida are choosing to travel by road over flying.

“I’m going to a wedding in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and then to Raleigh to visit cousins ​​I’ve never met” after finding them on a ancestry platform, Johnson said.

“Flying costs more with multiple destinations, so I drive,” he said, adding that he is limiting hotel stays and using his own vehicle to avoid high rental car prices.

You will have a lot of company on the roads.

To save money, 26% of vacationers plan to drive rather than fly to their destinations this summer, vs. 16% last year, according to Bankrate. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.54down from $4.42 a year ago, AAA data shows, and rental car prices fell more than 11% last month of the previous year.

Bankrate also found that 29% of summer travelers will choose cheaper accommodation or destinations, up from 22% last year. And 26%, compared to 19%, will travel fewer days.

Travelers line up to go through security at Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey on January 12, 2023.
A security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, in January. Aristide Economopoulos / Getty Images

“We are taking every opportunity to get out of the house but adjusting for inflation,” said Michael Huntsberger of McMinnville, Oregon. For this summer’s getaways, his family cut two days off a planned trip to California wine country and decided to vacation in eastern Canada because it was more affordable than New England.

“We couldn’t find a hotel for less than $450 in Portland, Maine, and the cost of traveling from there to Montreal was prohibitive,” he said, “so Ottawa, here we come!”

More travelers are also turning to loyalty points and rewards programs to help cut costs, with 34% doing it this yearup from 28% last July, according to a Morning Consult study published in March.

Redeeming travel points instead of saving them not only frees up money for other expenses, but can also be a good inflation-fighting tactic, said NerdWallet’s French.

“Just like inflation, point inflation is real,” he said. “Airlines and hotels periodically increase the number of points or miles [required] to book travel,” which means rewards can lose value if you wait too long for them.

An overwhelming 85% of travelers told NerdWallet they plan to charge their summer travel costs to credit cards, and nearly three-quarters said they’ll pay those charges as soon as the statement arrives to avoid interest charges. .

But thanks to increased rates, the remaining 26% who said they expected to carry travel-related balances could end up paying much more for their travel than they had planned.

The Federal Reserve’s recent quarter-point interest rate hike «won’t move the needle very much» on credit card rates, said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate, but after 10 hikes consecutive, «the cumulative effect is significant.» he said.

I still make travel a priority and don’t mind using a little more of my savings to maintain the level of experiences.

Marcy Schackne, Hollywood, Florida

“The typical credit card holder should soon see a rate 5 percentage points higher than in early 2022,” Rossman said. «That makes a big difference if he’s in debt from month to month, especially if he’s only making minimum payments.»

While 55% of US travelers told industry research firm Destinations Analysts in March that travel would be a high spending priority over the next three months, that was 6 percentage points less than those who said the same thing last spring. The group also found a nearly 8-point drop in travelers saying it’s a good time to take a trip, to just 30%.

Some travelers are taking the expense in stride.

“It’s more of a mental adjustment that everything will cost more,” said Marcy Schackne, of Hollywood, Florida. “I still make travel a priority and don’t mind using a little more of my savings to keep up the level of experiences.”

While Morning Consult found that the wealthiest consumers were more likely than others to get rid of his travel plans, Staples said he’s seeing a lot of demand: «The summer travel requests have been getting to the point that my team and I have had to make the decision not to accept any additional requests.»

“We are definitely seeing the continuation of ‘revenge trips’ after the pandemic,” he said.

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