Why Americans Need to Brace for Higher Travel Costs

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The summer of 2021 was largely hailed as the summer of revenge travel — at least until the delta variant outbreak put a wrench into people’s plans. The surge forced a lot of people to rethink their itineraries and stay closer to home.

But at this stage of the pandemic, things look different. Not only did the most recent omicron surge taper off pretty quickly, as health experts had hoped it would, but even the CDC is telling Americans they can change their approach to the pandemic and remove their masks if the circumstances are right.

All of this could lead to a travel surge come summertime. So if you’re eager to get out there, it pays to start saving now.

Travel costs could climb

Any time a product or service is in high demand, its price has the potential to rise. Such might be the case this summer if pent-up demand explodes and U.S. consumers book flights and hotel rooms left and right.

Booking app Hopper estimates that the cost of domestic airfare will rise 7% monthly through June. Meanwhile, we don’t know what gas prices will look like by summertime. But right now, they’re at record highs. And since gas prices tend to increase during the summer, it’s fair to say that road-tripping may not be a cost-effective alternative to flying.

Then there’s inflation to think about. The cost of everyday goods and services has soared since mid-2021, and if that trend continues, businesses from theme parks to restaurants could raise prices, making your plans cost more than usual.

How to gear up for higher travel costs

There’s a good chance your upcoming trips will cost you more than you bargained for, so it’s a good bet to save for future travel now. If you know you’re looking to get away in July, cut back on spending now and pad your savings account so you can cover your costs without racking up debt. Getting a side hustle to boost your income also works, if your circumstances allow for it.

In addition, consider booking summertime travel now — before airfare and hotel costs rise even more. The tricky part is that you have to pay for your trip months before taking it, leaving you with little time to pump up your savings. But if you already have savings to tap, or can cover your bookings with your paycheck, it’s worth locking in lower prices.

Finally, be sure to use the right credit card when booking your travel. If you use a travel rewards credit card to reserve a flight, you might benefit from money-saving perks like free checked baggage.

There’s a good chance the cost of travel will climb this year, especially during the summertime peak. If you prepare ahead of time, you can forge ahead with your plans without incurring piles of debt.

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