With skyrocketing airfares, here’s how to save money on travel

This article is reproduced with permission from NerdWallet.

After years of changing plans and making compromises, many travelers are finally ready to go on a real vacation this summer. But here’s the rub: prices are skyrocketing as pent-up demand plummets into limited availability.

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average airfare rose 33% in April compared to 2021 and prices only seem to be accelerating.

Although airfare and hotel prices are higher now than they were during most of the pandemic, they pale in comparison to rental car prices, which have remained high since the pandemic. last summer. Car rental prices rose 70% in April from pre-pandemic rates in April 2019, according to the BLS. Airfare prices have had their own share of jumps. Although below pre-pandemic levels for the majority of the past two years, airfares have increased significantly over the past two months.

Anyone who’s researched summer travel doesn’t have to dig very deep into the data to know it’s expensive. When we looked in May, a Google Flights search for round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Rome showed only one date under $1,000 in June and July.

So what should a budget-conscious traveler do?

Lily: With soaring gas prices and inflation, should you take a vacation or a “staycation”?

Wait a month or two more, if you can

If traveling during the summer seems likely to exceed your budget, consider extending your vacation by a month or more.

“Airfares in September and October are generally lower than the peak summer months,” said Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper, a travel booking platform, via email.

Berg cites the return of students to school as one of the main reasons for this drop in demand, which underlines an important caveat: traveling during off-peak seasons only works for those who have flexible enough schedules to take advantage of cost savings.

Yet even in mid to late August, prices tend to fall from their July highs.

“Although prices increased every weekend this summer compared to 2019, rates increased the least in August,” Berg said.

And indeed, when we searched in May, most round-trip fares from Los Angeles to Rome fell below $1,000 in August and September.

Follow the prices, they can get cold

Rising prices during the summer are one thing, but this year travel costs are also coming up against unprecedented demand, limited supply and runaway global inflation.

Jet fuel prices were higher at the end of April than they have been for more than 30 years, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Since the effects of high fuel prices don’t usually ripple through airfares immediately, summer flight costs could rise even more by the time you read this.

Yes, prices could continue to rise throughout the summer, making $1,000 tickets to Italy a bargain. But, more likely, they will cool down in late summer and early fall when that unique combination of factors returns to something resembling normal.

Also see: National gasoline averages hit 5 gallons, according to AAA and GasBuddy — and be prepared for the number to keep rising

Take advantage of the strong dollar, choose locations wisely

One silver lining in the dismal travel landscape: the US dollar is currently strong against many foreign currencies. For example, a dollar is worth 0.94 euros at the time of this writing, compared to 0.82 euros in May 2021. That may not seem like much, but it has ripple effects on all aspects of a travel budget. , from hotel rooms to train tickets to food. .

But beware: this effect is not uniform. For example, the dollar is actually weaker against the Mexican peso than it was at the start of the pandemic. And although the dollar is particularly strong against the Japanese yen, travel to Japan (and many other countries) remains very limited.

you might like: How to choose the best seat on an airplane

If you are looking to travel this summer

Everyone wants to travel this summer, which is part of why prices are skyrocketing. Remember: Prices usually drop significantly in August and early fall. So if you can postpone your vacation for a month or two, you might be able to get it back while staying within your budget.

Check: 7 Quirky Places Worth Stopping On A California Road Trip

There’s no guarantee prices will behave on their own this year, but historic trends and the unwinding of long-stifled travel demand could mean more reasonable prices this fall.

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Sam Kemmis writes for NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif.

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