Sarah Jensen had hoped to arrive in Germany to visit her family in August, her first trip there since 2019, but canceled the international flight as flight prices soared.
Also on the list this summer is a trip from Sacramento to the Midwest to visit friends. With average gas prices hovering under $6 per gallon in California, some other road trips may be in the chopping stage as well.
“We’re not going to do two trips we had planned,” Jensen said. “We were talking about taking a road trip with our kids, and I don’t even know it would be cost-effective.”
After the delta “hot summer” variant cooled last year, and soaring omicron prices brought holiday travel to a standstill, many Americans were holding on to the idea of a return to the normal holiday season — or what is known as “retaliatory travel.” Instead, pent-up demand for travel, high gas prices, and inflation created the perfect storm.
This has prompted many travelers to reevaluate their itineraries, whether that means canceling that outbound trip (again) or replacing it with more modest domestic tours.
Michelle Shines, who runs the outdoor travel blog Almost There Adventures, is expecting to travel abroad again this summer. When she looked at the flights to Europe from her home in Minneapolis, prices each ranged from $1,000 to $1,500, an unaffordable price for her family of five. Now, the Shines are replacing their European vacation with domestic flights and road trips to national parks. To save fuel, they will rent hybrid cars using the peer-to-peer car rental app Turo.
This summer, the family plans visits to several parks in Washington state, including Olympic Park, Mount Rainier, the North Cascades, and San Juan Island. Shines said the parks are ideal for excursions that can be done in a more economical way.
“It’s a return to values and really trying to value the time you spend with family,” she said. We’re just trying to look at the situation and travel any way we can. So with Covid, it was only road trips, no flying. Now it’s more about flying and driving, but how can we do that in a cost-effective way? “
A large part of calculus is based on reducing facilities. For Shainess, that means mixing Airbnb with a few nights of luxury. Depending on location and amenities, I’ve found luxury stays ranging from $150 to $200 a night. This can be a huge saving compared to Airbnb, as they also have to factor in fees.
Travel prices rose across the board. Flights were up nearly 13% in February compared to the same time a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and costs are expected to continue to rise. Accommodation prices are also up, with hotel prices up nearly 40% from last March and home rents up 13% as of February 2021.
Labor shortages are also part of the problem. Hotels have fewer staff and less inventory, which translates to higher prices for consumers, according to Peter Fletas, executive vice president of partner relations at Internova Travel Group. He said beachfront hotel rates in destinations like Miami and Fort Lauderdale have doubled.
“I don’t want to use the word profiteering, but [for] For two years, some suppliers had no income.” “Now that there is pent-up demand, they are taking advantage of the situation and trying to get top dollar.”
Procrastinators are among the travelers hardest hit by inflation, Fletas said.
This includes Justin Sims, an insurance adjuster in Birmingham, Ala. , who used to book international flights 48 hours before his flight due to his unexpected schedule. A few months ago he saw a trip to Jordan for $600. Now he said they were $1,100. He’s making a trip there this summer, or maybe to Rome, but if prices don’t drop, he’s sticking with the Caribbean. Meanwhile, his other dream destinations may still linger in the distant future.
The Maldives and Dubai have the highest prices. “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh, I’ll wait,'” Sims said with a sigh and laughed. Definitely a case of waiting type. “
For Jensen, a single mom who has her daughter on a competitive cheer squad, the travel of these extracurricular students this spring has consumed the summer budget. And higher gas prices doubled the cost of driving from Sacramento to Los Angeles, which Jensen said typically costs about $200 round trip. That makes their summer trip less likely, especially since Jensen said hotels she looked at in Utah and Arizona went up $100 or $150 a night.
“As a single parent, you go from saving for one thing to saving for the next,” she said, noting that she often doesn’t have the luxury of finding travel deals in the coming months. “We pay more for things at the last minute than families with a lot of support, so we pay higher prices anyway.”
Rising prices haven’t stopped celebratory comedian and passionate adventurer Amber Klear, who’s hitting the road now more than ever.
said Claire, who says she has had a different perspective on life since she survived a blood clot in her brain ten years ago. “The people I’ve talked to and even me, we’ve been holding back in the past few years. And even comedy shows are growing exponentially and [I’m] Find that people go out more. They go further. They never miss their holidays.”
Claire, who is based in Ovalon, Illinois, said she travels to faraway places because she enjoys the harmony between performing at crowded shows and sitting alone outdoors. She used to do hiking trips around her comedy gigs, but now she creates a spreadsheet with her hiking wish list first before setting up her tour. An August trip to Mammoth Cave National Park will include performances in Bowling Green, Ky. , while Stephen’s Gap exploration will stop in Huntsville, Ala.
In the past, Claire often found hotel deals the day before her arrival. With accommodation prices rising, she’s getting more and more likely to stay at a campsite or sleep in her jeep.
“I almost pulled the trigger to buy a camper,” she said, “but with the gas prices, I don’t really need a sink.”
In addition to traveling for shows, Klear also books comedians from all over the country for a resort in southern Illinois. Tickets usually cost between $10 and $20, but she raised it to $15 to $45 to account for the comedians’ travel costs. She said a comedian from Los Angeles canceled because he could no longer afford the trip. And in Ian’s Seinfeld twist, some comedians get into cars together to split the cost.
“They use cars a lot more than that, which is really funny,” Claire said. “I think their material is growing because of that.”
Although gas prices have shocked many Americans, the price at the pump is nothing to worry about for dual Tesla owners Bridgette and David Kelch. The St. Louis couple saved nearly $200 in fuel costs in the last month alone. This summer, they’ll embark on more trips to the national parks, as well as a trip to Canada for a trek through the Canadian Rockies.
“This is the trip where we were most concerned about travel prices given travel prices,” said David Kelish.
While the Kelishes keep tabs on prices, they don’t let higher rates stop them from traveling. Besides stamping each national park site in their parks’ passports, they’re looking forward to a baseball game in the Minneapolis Twins with David’s father and a trip to Glacier National Park to see the glaciers “before they melt,” Bridget said.
“I think the pandemic and Ukraine have brought this to the fore: Don’t take it for granted,” said Bridget Keelsch. “Go out and explore, see these wonderful things and eat this wonderful food and appreciate what we have here.”