Inflation is driving up prices on almost everything—including the price of summer travel.
In March 2022, consumer prices rose 8.5%, the fastest growth since 1981. The Travel Price Index, which measures the cost of travel in the United States, was up 19.3% year over year in March 2022, and 15.9% higher than March 2019, before the pandemic.
Despite the rising prices, many Americans are itching to travel after two years of lockdowns and quarantines. However, a new poll shows that 40% of U.S. adults said they would cancel a trip if consumer prices continue to rise.
If you’re planning a vacation this summer, rising prices are likely to affect your plans—especially in the areas of airfare, motor fuel, and lodging, which have the fastest rising prices. But that doesn’t mean your vacation is ruined. Consider these tips for creating a vacation to remember without overblowing your budget.
Rethink your vacation. If you were planning to rent a car and drive across country, high gas prices and rapidly increasing rental car rates may mean this isn’t the year for that trip. Instead, you might consider a train trip or a walkable destination that won’t require a car once you arrive. Maybe it’s the year to visit a coastal town or a city like Washington, D.C., where many of the museums and attractions are free.
Plan ahead. Booking early is usually the best way to get good deals, and as inflation figures keep climbing, that’s likely to be the best strategy in 2022. Try to book domestic flights between 28 and 35 days out for the best deals, and international flights between three and four months out, according to Expedia. If you’re planning to book a hotel room, the lowest rates are usually available on Mondays, according to Expedia. While you may be able to get low rates by booking early, you may also find lower rates a day or two before your trip if there are vacancies available.
Access discounts. Now may be the time to use those travel rewards points you’ve been saving. If you don’t have any travel rewards points, consider opening a travel rewards credit card to start earning them. You may also be able to get discounts from hotel and airline loyalty programs.
Temper your expectations. While travel prices might be a lot higher than they were in 2021, they haven’t risen from pre-pandemic prices as much as you might think. For example, airfare is 23.6% higher now than it was a year ago, but it’s 6.2% lower than it was in March 2019. Rather than letting high prices ruin your vacation mood, try to remember that after two years of pandemic stress, you’ve earned your time away.