Let's have some real talk about the increase in the cost of travel for a couple of minutes. Especially if you haven't planned a trip since 2019.....
If you've looked at the cost of hotels, flights, rental cars, or even RV parks, you've probably noticed the increase in pricing....... You might have been put in a state of shock or even disbelief as you looked at the price. Maybe even muttered "That can't be right" or "Are they insane?" I mean even Motel 6 is over $100/night in some places??? I get it, trust me I do.
The fact is, the cost of travel (and basically everything else) is up about 13% - 36% from last year depending on the component, time of year, destination, etc. We've kinda been eased into the inflation of everyday items. Yes, we still complain and fondly reminisce of when eggs were less than $2/dozen and you could buy canned veggies for 2/$1, but we almost expect higher prices when we go to the store now because it's part of everyday life right now.
For most Americans, travel is not part of everyday life except for the tanks of gas which give us anxiety every time we go to the pump. If you've decided to take a vacation this year and started looking around, you probably had a major shock as I mentioned above....because you don't look at these prices every day.
I have this conversation several times a week with clients. For those that have booked resorts or cruises without flights over the last few months, I've warned them to keep an eye on flights because flights were forecasted to keep going up. I even started booking flights again inside of certain packages so clients can have a chance to pay out the flights with the resort/hotel. (This has some negatives too, which I also let clients know about.)
A Feb 14, 2023 article from Nerd Wallet says that flights are up about 26% more than they were last year. Hotels are up about 13-16% from pre-pandemic and rental cars are up 36% from pre-pandemic prices.
Setting aside inflation, travel demand is still through the roof.....even with these increased prices. People still want to get out and travel. They are booking international trips and cruises at an amazing rate. Personally, my sales this January were well over my January sales last year and even pre-pandemic. This month is also trending to do the same. Why? I think people want an escape.
Almost everything you hear in the news and on social media is all the bad happening in the world. The conflicts, the shortages, the inflation, and on and on and on. People want to go somewhere and just enjoy themselves. They want to see other places, experience new surroundings and just escape the stress of everyday life even for a few days.
So how can you take a trip without selling off a kidney or taking out a second mortgage? Here are a few ideas.
1. Go during the off-season. I know this may be easier said than done, but if you can go during months that are less crowded, you can see some substantial savings compared to peak times.
2. Last-minute deals are getting fewer and further apart. I'm not saying they are not out there but don't bet a big family vacation on it. Suppliers don't really have to post last-minute deals right now because demand is higher than supply in a lot of instances.
3. If you follow Dave Ramsey skip past this part. Do you have a credit card that offers points for hotels or miles for airlines? You might think about using it more for everyday items AND THEN PAY IT OFF EVERY MONTH so you don't get stuck paying ungodly high interest. I'm NOT telling you to spend more than you can afford, I'm suggesting to maybe shift your way of thinking and use some perks you may already have at your disposal. (This is not financial advice)
4. If you are traveling within the US, look for accommodations that offer free breakfast or an optional meal plan. If you have a refrigerator and microwave in your room, head to a local grocery store and get some food. You can prepare one or two meals in your room and then eat out one meal so you're still experiencing the local flavor and supporting the local economy of that destination. If traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean, all-inclusive is still the best bet if you don't plan on doing a lot of exploring and will spend most of your time at the resort. If you're not going to be at the resort other than to sleep, then the same thing applies as it does stateside.
5. Cruises can also offer great value when you consider everything that is included. Just know the true cost if you want to add drink/dining packages, shore excursions, etc. Here in the Texas Panhandle, we are within a day's drive of Galveston and New Orleans. Galveston port is growing and several new ships and Cruise Lines are now sailing from there.
6. Avoid eating or buying gifts in a tourist area. Prices are going to be even more expensive anywhere you go that has a high flow of tourists.
7. Read the fine print. Know what the change/cancelation penalties are. Does the hotel/resort charge resort fees that are not included in your original cost? (Think Hawaii) Is there a cleaning fee? Ect....
8. And last but not least........USE A TRAVEL AGENT. We do this for a living, it's literally our job. A good travel agent listens to what you want and what you need and will work WITH you to find options that fit those parameters and your budget. We work for you, not the travel suppliers. Unlike some of the big online travel sites, we will tell you if a resort/hotel/ship isn't a good fit for you and why. We have connections throughout the travel industry that can help us help you. I don't care if you contact me or one of the other great travel agents in our area, but please consider using a travel agent for your next vacation.
I understand the pinch on finances and I get the shock of increased prices. I just want you to be aware of where the travel industry is right now. Gone are the pre-pandemic prices and who knows if they will ever go back down to that again. If you are wanting to take a vacation this year, call or email me. Let's talk about options and what may or may not work.