Travel costs decreased in July. Here’s how you can get a bargain

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Travelers saw prices plummet for the big tickets in their vacation budgets in July, providing at least a temporary reprieve from soaring costs earlier this year.

Airfares fell nearly 8% from June to July, while prices for rental cars and accommodations like hotels fell 9.5% and about 3% respectively, according to a monthly report. on inflation released Wednesday by the US Department of Labor. It was the second consecutive month of falling prices for each category.

“It’s really good news, I think, when people are planning their vacations,” said Sally French, travel expert at NerdWallet.

According to experts.

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This increase in airfares in early 2022 was “abnormal”, said Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper.

Hotel and rental car prices also peaked in the spring, while high gasoline costs also inflated car travel budgets.

“Many” people have traveled recently, despite high costs

Thirty-nine percent of travelers said the general cost of travel being too expensive has deterred them from traveling more than they otherwise would have preferred over the past semester, according to Destination Analysts, a tourism market research firm. Almost half, 47%, explicitly cited fuel costs and 27% mentioned airfares.

Financial concerns have compounded other travel headaches in recent months, such as an increase in lost luggage and delayed or canceled flights.

However, “lots” of people still traveled over the summer – more than half of Americans took a trip in the past month, according to a July Destination Analysts survey.

Despite the recent cooling, travel remains significantly more expensive than before the pandemic. Air fares in July were up 16% from July 2019, according to monthly Consumer Price Index data.

Hotels are up a more modest 6% for the same period while rental cars are up around 48%, which is “by far the largest price increase of all [travel] category we follow,” French said. In addition to consumer demand, factors such as a shortage of semiconductors that have had a wider impact on the auto industry have trickled down to consumers, she added.

“It’s always important to remember [that] if you haven’t traveled or taken a major trip since pre-Covid, you should expect to pay more than you’re used to,” French said.

How to get great deals on upcoming trips

Travel experts had some tips for mitigating the effects of potentially expensive travel.

Travelers who can remain flexible about vacation dates may be able to get a better deal on airfare, French said. A tool like Google Flights allows users to compare prices for selected travel dates as well as other combinations earlier or later in the week or month, for example, she said.

You may find that extending a day trip could save enough on airfare to offset an extra night in a hotel and give you an extra day of vacation.

“I encourage people to be really flexible in their budgeting,” French said.

For the best deals on airfare, travelers planning domestic travel for the fall should book plane tickets at least three to six weeks before departure, after which prices tend to rise quickly, Berg said. .

Flying in the fall is also one of the best ways to save on international airfare, as prices are often lower in September and October compared to the summer months, Berg added. Travelers typically get the best deal if they book about four weeks in advance, she said.

Plus, going midweek rather than on peak days typically saves around $35 per ticket, according to Hopper.

Travelers may be better served by booking a hotel closer to their arrival date, especially for major city destinations with plenty of accommodations, experts said. This is because hotels often lower their prices to clear inventory as the check-in date approaches.

I encourage people to be really flexible with their budgeting.

Sally French

travel expert at NerdWallet

Hiring a car from a major airport hub can also be a safer bet, particularly in times of high demand – the generally larger car fleets at these hubs reduce the chance of a company saying they don’t. there is no vehicle for you upon arrival, Berg said. Travelers who prefer to fly into a regional airport might consider renting from a larger nearby airport and taking a taxi there, for example.

Reimbursable trips can also offer a financial advantage — especially over rental cars and hotels — for travelers willing to put in a little extra work, French said.

For example, travelers can often choose to defer payment for these purchases until their arrival date. While travelers may pay a slightly higher rate for this luxury, opting for a fully refundable hotel or purchasing a rental car allows travelers to monitor prices ahead of their trip; if the price drops in advance, travelers can book at the lower rate and then cancel their original booking, French said. However, consumers should, of course, be aware of any restrictions that may apply.