Although U.S. consumers are worried about rising costs, travel statistics show they are not letting it impact their travel plans.
In 2022 so far, the global vacation rentals marketplace has recorded an overall 60% annual uplift in searches for vacation rentals for the summer season, and a 9% observed increase in the average length of stay.
Drivers hit the road for the Fourth of July in record numbers, according to AAA, one of North America’s largest leisure travel agencies. Despite high gas prices, car travel set a new record with 42 million people driving over the holiday weekend.
By the end of August, 2.3 million people took to the skies daily for travel, according to the Transportation Security Administration. That’s about 90% of pre-pandemic levels.
What are savvy travelers doing to keep travel plans intact? Cutting corners on other expenditures. Three in five travelers (61%) will reduce the amount of money they spend on eating out before cutting back on holidays and travel. According to Skift, they’ll do the same during travel: eating out less and choosing cheaper alternatives for their transportation and accommodation.
According to the Global Rescue Summer 2022 Travel Safety and Sentiment Survey, most travelers (79%) report inflation won’t change their plans, but 21% say it will. Their trip adjustments include:
- Traveling for fewer days (21%)
- Flying on less expensive plane tickets (19%)
- Lodging at less costly places (15%)
- Eating out less or at less expensive restaurants (12%)
- Greatly reducing or not buying souvenirs or gifts during their trip (6%)
[Related Reading: How to Beat Travel Inflation]
These alternatives will counterbalance rising travel costs — and the scarcity of travel deals.
“There really aren’t any travel deal trends anymore,” said Kimberly Franke, director of Kanna Travel Services, a full-service travel agency in Bozeman, Montana that specializes in trip logistics for adventure and sports travel. “If a traveler is able to access deals in a post-COVID world, the savings are often offset by expensive or cumbersome flights.”
With the current travel landscape in mind, we asked Global Rescue experts and Safe Travel Partners how to save money while traveling.
Be Selective about Flight Schedules
If you do find a cheaper fare, Franke advises travelers to select a route with fewer connections.
“Smaller airlines and shorter routes are the ones usually being cut by airlines because their pilots need to be used for the long-haul flights. It is wise for travelers to select more stable routes,” she said.
The city you fly out of will also make a difference. For example, you’re in New York City and want to travel to Miami for a weeklong vacation. You can fly out of a larger airport — like JFK — nonstop to Miami for $288 roundtrip per person. Choose a smaller airport, like White Plains/Westchester in metro NYC, and a roundtrip, nonstop flight is $2,038 per person.
“Larger cities can offer better routes and rates. Smaller cities or towns are currently suffering from routes being cancelled and higher cost tickets,” said Franke.
While planning ahead may not save you as much money as it did in the past, it is still worth doing.
“Airline tickets will not go on ‘super sale’ as the dates get closer,” Franke said. “Airlines are selling out the lower fare class options first and, from there, the fare class only gets more expensive. This is not a trend that is likely to change anytime soon given staff shortages and gas prices.”
Every airline has a different nomenclature for seating — saver, basic economy, main cabin, first class — but you can typically count on the economy/main cabin seats selling out first, then the business class or first-class seats selling out next. If you’re booking on a discount carrier, like Spirit or Frontier, your seat is assigned at the gate.
In general, you should book six weeks in advance for domestic flights and four months in advance for international flights. Flights are typically less expensive on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Booking in advance is also a good idea for hotels.
“By planning ahead, you have all options on the table — and you aren’t stuck getting a higher priced room or a more expensive hotel because yours is sold out,” said Mimi Lichtenstein, owner of Truvay Travel. “Some hotels, like Four Seasons and Marriott, use dynamic pricing — the higher the projected occupancy, the higher the price for the available rooms.”
Not all hotels are able to offer discounts, but it is worth inquiring about upgrades or negotiating prices for a longer stay. You could also work with a travel advisor, who may be able to secure complimentary breakfasts, credits, upgrades and often knows about unpublished specials.
Leverage Your Memberships
Members of hotel loyalty clubs, such as Windham Rewards or World of Hyatt, can earn points and cash them in for upgrades like free internet, room upgrades and free nights. But be sure to take advantage of your membership programs.
“Many travelers are like me — just accumulating points and never using them,” Lichtenstein said. “It is good to use them as they devalue over time.”
Tack Travel on to a Business Trip
Business trips are back, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Companies are planning in-person meetings as the top travel expense for 2022.
Corporate travelers are taking advantage of this opportunity by tacking leisure days onto a work-related trip, a growing trend called “bleisure travel.”
“I love efficiency so, from the standpoint of already being somewhere new for work, it makes sense to take advantage of that already paid for flight,” Lichtenstein said. “You can also decide to stay put or venture to a new destination.”
Digital nomads are also using the work-from-anywhere trend to their vacation advantage. About 1 in 4 travelers will work remotely on their vacation to avoid using vacation days, including more than a third of millennials. Overall, Travel Edge Network has noted a 25% increase in interest for workcations and bleisure trips compared to recent years.
[Related Reading: Are Digital Nomads Here to Stay?]
Check the Foreign Exchange Rate
A strong American dollar may make up for the rising costs of travel overseas, according to The New York Times. This means spending abroad is cheaper. You can make your travel dollars go further in these countries:
- Canada is a good deal with $1 U.S. translating to $1.29 Canadian.
- “Countries with the Euro are a ‘deal’ because of the recent historic low against the USD,” Lichtenstein said.
- A U.S. dollar in Vietnam goes a long way, and $100 will get you 5 to 8 nights in a three-star accommodation in Hanoi, 15 to 20 mid-priced restaurant meals, and a one-way trip from Hanoi to Da Nang via Livitrans luxury train, according to TripSavvy.
- A trip to Bangladesh, often forgotten over its neighbors India and Nepal, costs on average BDT4,540 (48USD) per day.
- Your dollar will go far in Peru (1USD = 3.25PEN) and you’ll enjoy beautiful sights, including Machu Picchu, and cities such as Arequipa, Ica, Cusco and Lima.
“Be sure to exchange your money prior to returning home,” said Adam Bardwell, medical operations supervisor at Global Rescue. “Many currencies are unable to be exchanged after you depart the country or can be difficult to locate a facility that will exchange a specific currency. For example, the West African franc is extremely hard to exchange to USD in the states.
Travel Protection Memberships and CFAR Insurance
Two sure-fire ways to save money: purchase a travel insurance plan and a Global Rescue membership. Travel insurance will protect the value of your trip up to $100,000 with cancellation options including Cancel For Any Reason, accident and sickness medical insurance, and baggage loss.
If you’re ill or injured abroad, a Global Rescue membership covers the price of a field rescue or medical evacuation, which could cost up to $300,000. For members, the cost is $0 and there are no deductibles, claims or co-pays. That’s money you’ll be saving for your next vacation.
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