“You’re going to get sticker shock,” warned travel analyst Henry Harteveldt, president of the Atmosphere Research Group.
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Sally French, travel rewards expert at NerdWallet, has analyzed the impact of inflation on general travel expenses – including rental cars, hotels, food and entertainment like movies and concerts.
“Definitely every single category is more expensive now than this time last year,” she said.
Here’s a breakdown of travel expenses, what people should expect when planning summer trips, and how they can save a few bucks.
Flights: increase of 12.7 percent compared to February 2021
According to consumer price index data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, air fares rose 12.7 percent year-on-year in February but fell more than 14 percent compared to 2019.
“Humans have short-term memories,” French said. “You just remember, ‘Last year I got this great flight offer.'”
In early April, travel-booking app Hopper announced that domestic round-trip fares averaged $330, up 40 percent from where it started the year. For international travel, the average was $810, up from $650 earlier in the year.
The company expects these prices to continue to rise, and forecasts that the domestic round-trip fare will reach $360 by May. The international air fare is expected to peak at $940 in June.
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Hayley Berg, Hopper’s head of price intelligence — which uses different data than the Bureau of Labor Statistics — said his calculations show domestic air fares are even higher than pre-pandemic figures: up 7 percent from 2019.
Harteveldt said several factors are driving prices higher this year, including strong demand, higher jet fuel prices and reduced capacity.
“Airlines have made it very clear that they intend not only to raise prices, but also to take other measures to help them recoup most of the higher energy prices they pay,” he said.
Budget advice: Harteveldt said that new low-cost airlines such as Breeze Airways or Avelo Airlines could offer lower fares than their competitors if their routes meet a traveler’s needs. He suggested looking for deals that combine flights and accommodation into one package, which can lower the overall price of a trip. For those with travel flexibility, there is an option to move a summer trip to the cheaper early fall season.
Berg said travelers should also opt for international travel with a lower price tag, choosing Mexico or Central America over Europe to save several hundred dollars.
“If travelers are willing to reassess their travel destinations, they can spend less than they have in past summers, even though prices are higher,” she said.
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Hotels: 40 percent increase compared to March 2021
Travel research firm STR said the average daily hotel price in the United States was $147.15 between March 1 and March 26. That’s significantly more than the same time last year, when the average nightly price was nearly $105, and higher than 2019, when the average nightly price was $132.56.
Carter Wilson, STR’s senior vice president of consulting, said last summer had already been record-breaking. He said labor shortages and higher wages would also push interest rates higher this year.
“Every destination that normally caters to leisure demand has seen phenomenal growth this past summer,” he said. “It’s kind of continued unabated.”
Budget advice: Wilson said higher rates won’t be shared evenly, especially as business travel takes longer to recover.
“If you want to stay in a hotel in a convention center in a big urban market, you’re more likely to find a room there than in a resort,” he said. “The urban cores, which depend on international demand and demand for large conventions and companies, are still trying to gain a foothold.”
Harteveldt said travelers are better off shopping directly on hotel brand websites than on price comparison sites because that’s where they can find discounts on things like AAA membership.
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Airbnb and Vrbo: 13 percent more than in February 2021
According to AirDNA, which tracks the performance of millions of properties on Airbnb and Vrbo, higher rates are also being charged for short-term rentals. The company said average daily rates in the United States were nearly $273 in February, up 13 percent year-on-year and 32 percent from 2019. In late March, AirDNA said summer rates so far are about 5.5 percent higher than last year.
Budget advice: French recommends people use a kitchen or kitchenette so they can buy groceries at a grocery store and avoid eating out at a restaurant for every meal.
Rental cars: 19 percent more than in March 2021
In mid-March, Hopper said rental cars averaged about $83 a day, up 19 percent from the same time in 2021. Industry watchers expect demand to pick up this summer — and prices to follow.
“The current situation is that rental car companies will still charge higher prices simply because supply hasn’t met demand,” Mike Taylor, head of travel and hospitality practice at JD Power, told The Washington Post last month.
Budget advice: Considering the cost of rental cars and gas, French said she could avoid a road trip this year. She suggested flying to a destination with good public transport instead. But if someone needs a rental car, she and other experts recommend looking for it first to avoid any unwelcome surprises in terms of price or availability.
“Book the rental car first because it’s going to be the most surprising part of your trip,” she said.
How to save money on car trips when gas prices are rising
Gas: 45 percent increase compared to April 2021
According to the AAA, the national median price for a gallon of lead-free lead was just over $4.16 on Wednesday, compared with about $2.87 a year ago. Prices have fallen in recent weeks after hitting record highs in March, but petrol may still be a key item in summer road trip budgets.
Budget advice: Roadtrippers should use apps like GasBuddy or tools like Waze and Google Maps that can find cheaper gas. Costco members can also purchase the chain’s discounted fuel.
The Washington Post has broken down more ways travelers can save on road trips despite high fuel prices.
Cruises: Didn’t sail this time last year
The world’s largest cruise lines have announced they see strong prices in the second half of 2022 – in some cases higher than 2019. US cruises weren’t even sailing at this time a year ago; They began returning last summer after suspending operations for more than a year due to the pandemic.
David Crooks, senior vice president of product and operations at cruise seller World Travel Holdings, said in an email that cruise prices still look like a good deal this year and next due to “significant increases in land-based alternatives.”
“With the lifting of CDC travel health advisories for cruises, strong backlog demand and strict health protocols for cruise lines combined with low prices, consumers are realizing the value of cruises and demand is very strong,” he said.
Budget advice: Booking in the fall rather than the mid-summer Caribbean dates saves money (but also means cruising during the historically busier part of hurricane season). For example, a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on a new Carnival ship costs $1,169 per person for a room with a balcony when it departs July 10. When the ship departs on September 24 for the same route, a room with a balcony is $839 per person.