Now that more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and case numbers continue to drop, many families are thinking about taking their first vacation in a year.
Travel experts warn people that f you haven't started planning a summer getaway yet, it could cost you.
There are a lot of things to think about when it comes time to plan a summer vacation: where to go, where to stay, and how to get there. This year, the answer to the question of just how much is it going to cost is a lot more than many were planning to spend.
Whether it's to fly the friendly skies or take a family road trip, many are anxious to have something positive to look forward to after more than a year of COVID restrictions, lockdowns, and loss of life.
AAA Mid-Atlantic manager of Public and Government Affairs Ragina Ali said “we are seeing increased excitement from our members and travelers in general. Particularly as they get vaccinated. We're seeing people come in and book, in some cases literally right after they received their final vaccine, they're coming in to visit with our travel advisors.”
Ali said the usual travel hot spots are still popular.
“We're seeing people going to the Outer Banks, to the Carolinas, certainly to Florida, but we're also people come in to AAA and they're booking travel to the Carribean, to Mexico, to Puerto RIco.
WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said “destinations which have had such pent-up demand are still kind of overflowing with reservations back from 2020.”
Gonzalez explained just how deep travelers will have to dig into their pockets to getaway this summer.
“Deals can still be found, but it is getting increasingly difficult to find them. The best rule of thumb is which we're all pretty much used to is booking in far in advance as possible,” Gonzalez said.
Besides deciding where to go, another question families ask themselves is whether to fly or drive, and how much is that going to cost.
“Gas is definitely on the rise, prices are on the rise. In fact, they're looking at what they were pre-pandemic, so I don't think there are savings either way when you're talking about driving or flying” Gonzalez said.
While trying to rent a car might not only be expensive but next to impossible.
“A lot of rental car companies, actually gave up most of their fleet at the start of the pandemic so because of that, we see they haven’t recouped those cars yet” Gonzalez said.
“Trying to find a rental car on my own, online, was challenging, it was like, you know what, i'm calling my travel adviser, she was able to hold one for me, she was able to find one, when I wasn't able to find one. We also encourage people, if you're looking to rent a car, to maybe even consider locations off site from the airport,” Ali said.
That's one way to save on the cost of a rental car at the airport, but what about the price of that plane ticket to get there.
“Airfare is not necessarily higher than ever, although it has definitely jumped since the lows that we saw in 2020. A lot of it is right back to pre-pandemic levels” Gonzalez said.
Once travelers figure out where to go, and how they're going to get there, people want to know how much more it's going to cost them to stay there this year.
“Hotel costs are another thing that are going up now, more people are getting vaccinated, more people are booking trips, and more people are staying at hotels” Gonzalez said.
So where can you go to spend your PTO time which won't have you working overtime to pay for it? Gonzalez recommends picking a destination which didn't have a lot of lockdowns.
“Arizona has been a little bit more open for longer. It’s also maybe a little bit too hot, this time of year is going to be cheaper. Places like Utah and Montana for road trips might be a little bit more affordable right now” Gonzalez said.
“Pent up demand, increase prices, and in many places, limited capacity, so those are all factors that are certainly contributing to the higher costs and hopefully, those will stabilize eventually,” Ali said.
Gonzalez has a few other ways to save money including find a less popular destination to visit or think about making that summer vacation a fall or winter trip instead.