Travel

Travel costs have gone up for everything that is forcing consumers to skimp on summer entertainment.

It’s not just gas prices that make travelers swoon this summer holiday season.

From flights to hotels, from airport shuttles to parking, the cost of every aspect of vacation and hospitality is on the rise, forcing vacationers to change plans as they want to get rid of two years of pandemic-related restrictions.

According to travel website Hopper, air fares rose nearly 48% in May compared to pre-pandemic 2019 and will continue to rise in June, when round-trip ticket prices average over $400.

Hopper said hotel prices jumped to more than $200 a night on average in May, up 46%.

Eating out is costing consumers 7.2% more than a year ago, according to the CPI, and growth has been even sharper at full-service restaurants, many of which are facing labor shortages and forced to raise wages.

Soaring inflation is facing unprecedented consumer demand, and summer vacation supply simply can’t keep up. But after months of fares rising faster or faster than inflation, there are signs that many consumers are fed up.

“People still want to get out and they’re spending money,” said Kristie Catchings, a McKinney travel agent with Kristie Len Travel. “They may not be able to stay for that many days, but they really want to.”

In response, consumers are cutting back on stays, eating at cheaper restaurants, and cutting back on spending at home.

And there are several alternatives for consumers who want to make their vacation cheaper. The average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline hit $4.70 on Wednesday, a record high and little respite for those who thought they could avoid airfares that continue to rise as airlines cut summer flights.

Vacation rental properties were 33% more expensive in April 2022 than in the same month of 2019, according to AirDNA, which tracks rentals on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

“People are willing to spend this money and go on this journey,” said Anthony Jackson, a Deloitte researcher who studies the travel industry. “But for people who do not plan to travel, the main reason is not COVID. This is the cost.”

Catchings, who cut costs as a travel agent during the COVID-19 pandemic by closing her physical office and working from home, said she is now inundated with demand from consumers looking to travel after years of absence. Travel to Mexico is particularly popular, she said, despite the U.S. requiring a negative COVID-19 test result to re-enter the country.

“A lot of things are back to normal: live music by the pool, nightclubs and swim bars are reopening,” Catchings said.

But for those looking for travel discounts, Catchings said deals are harder to come by.

“I subscribe to all the sites that have last minute deals and I just don’t get a lot of emails lately,” she said.

People are eager to travel now that mask requirements on planes have eased and COVID-19 restrictions are easing, she said. People who travel frequently…

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