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Summer travel: How to navigate increased demand, rising costs and crowded destinations

Slashed inventory and reduced capacity biggest obstacles for travelers.

NEW YORK  – Across the country, there are several indicators that travel is returning in a big way. Last month, The Points Guy and Healthline Media found 50% of adults in the U.S. are at least somewhat likely to take a vacation this summer – a percentage that’s comparable to pre-pandemic numbers according to a survey by Bankrate, which found that 52% of Americans were planning a trip in the summer of 2019. As Americans start to feel more comfortable traveling, they face a big hurdle: slashed inventory and reduced capacity.

  • Airlines: A new airfare report from Hopper, a travel farecasting app, indicates flight prices are climbing –  there’s been a 12% increase in round-trip flight prices since April 2021. The TSA hit a pandemic-high screening of 1.85 million people at airports across the U.S. on Sunday, May 16.
  • Hotels: According to data from STR, a global hospitality data and analytics company, hotel occupancy in the U.S. reached its second-highest level since the start of the pandemic. Popular destinations, such as some areas of Florida and South Carolina, have even seen demand outperforming 2019 levels.
  • Rental car shortage: Rental car fleets were slashed during the pandemic and now there isn’t enough supply to satisfy the upswell in demand. Jonathan Weinberg, the CEO and cofounder of AutoSlash, a company that helps travelers find rental car deals, told TPG earlier last month that AutoSlash saw a 300% increase in rental car pricing in destinations such as Arizona, Hawaii, and Florida.
  • Gas prices: Over the past couple of weeks, the national gas average leapt over $3 per gallon – the most expensive it’s been since late 2014, according to AAA. In some states where gas was limited or unavailable, gas saw a 21-cent increase in less than a week. But throughout the month of May, weekly increases of approximately 10 cents haven’t been uncommon in some states.

“As Americans return to the sky or hit the road for summer vacation, many may be asking how to avoid crowds and still score deals this summer,” says Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor at The Points Guy. “The key is flexibility with your travel dates, the duration of your stay and even your destination. Consider a midweek trip or a city vacation, for example, and above all else, be patient.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Even for people flying this summer, crowds, waits and expensive fares could be the norm.
  • Airlines are adding new flights and frequency, but the inventory can’t come back fast enough to keep up with demand. With the shortages in TSA screeners, Americans can expect airport security lines and delays.
  • Travelers who are planning a beach or national park getaway should brace for crowds, high prices and limited availability of rooms, rental cars and more.
  • Lieberman adds, “If you want to avoid high prices and crowds, reconsider travel to some of the most popular vacation destinations right now such as the Southwestern U.S., Florida, or the Carolinas.”
News Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | + Posts

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.

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