- 73% of American consumers feel “positive” about travel, according to a study by CarTrawler.com.
- Travelers can expect services to be slower as new staff upgrade.
- TripIt’s Jen Moyse predicts the trip will cost more this summer.
Here’s what you need to know about traveling this summer: you’ll pay more, worry more, and might even take a detour or two. But nothing, and I don’t want to say anything, will stop you from taking a vacation.
According to a survey by CarTrawler.com, nearly three-quarters of American consumers (73%) say they feel “positive” about travel and more than half (51%) plan to take more domestic pleasure trips this year. In practice, that means 73% of Americans will be flying somewhere by June, according to a TripIt poll by Concur. Sixty percent will go on a road trip. (There is some overlap because some will do both.)
A rebel 41% of Americans in a World Nomads poll say nothing will stop them from going – not war, not inflation, not COVID-19. Anything.
“But the focus of these trips has changed substantially,” says Jon Whitby, World Nomads’ general manager of marketing. “Travelers have gone from reconnecting with family and friends to exploration and relaxation.”
Yes, this summer will be an interesting time to travel.
“The easing of pandemic restrictions has sparked two years of pent-up travel desire,” says Damian Tysdal, founder of travel insurance website CoverTrip.com. “At the same time, the restrictions aren’t loosening evenly across the board. This will bring many excited but confused travelers trying to figure out how to manage their trip.”
Here’s how to deal with the excitement and confusion:
It’s not the same old travel industry
COVID-19 changed travel forever. Experts fear travelers will forget the last two years.
“My concern is that many travelers will have expectations that travel will be normal, as in pre-COVID normality,” says Lisa Pagotto, director of Crooked Compass, a tour operator. “It is important to remember that many hotels, tour operators and transport companies have not been operating at full capacity for some time.”
This means that services may be slower as new staff upgrade. Hotels may offer reduced services, such as housekeeping and meals. You may still see health and safety protocols, such as mandatory masking and social distancing.
Be prepared to pay more
“The rising cost of airline tickets comes first,” says Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com.
He says the key is to book in advance. According to CheapAir.com’s 2022 Airfares Study, the cheapest day of the week to catch a flight is Wednesday and the cheapest month to fly is August. So there is still time.
Jen Moyse, vice president of product for TripIt, predicts that inflation and rising gas prices will drive up travel costs this summer.
“Save some extra money,” he advises. “It can help you avoid negative and stressful financial situations before or after your trip.”
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Gas prices will involve deviations, but not cancellations
Fuel prices have hit record highs in the US, but instead of pushing Americans to cancel their summer vacation, those prices simply cause travelers to change their plans.
“People are going to change their travels,” predicts Jessica O’Riley, a spokesperson for Travel Iowa. “Maybe they won’t travel as far or as often. Or they’ll make compromises to compensate for the higher gasoline prices, perhaps spending less on dining or staying with family and friends than in a hotel.”
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But they will still go. Road trips in Iowa were up nearly 15% from 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. Iowa had the second highest road travel recovery rate in the country this winter.
“I think people still consider travel a birthright and will make the compromises necessary to make the trips they feel they have missed in the past couple of years,” says O’Riley.
You will worry a lot
A survey by travel insurance company Seven Corners found that Americans will spend a lot of time worrying about travel.
What do they do? Nearly half of Americans (49%) planning to travel to the United States cited cost as their main concern. Other fears include getting stuck in another country if they test positive for the coronavirus (13% of international travelers) and difficulties keeping up and following test requirements (9%).
The concern goes with the territory. While there is no way to eliminate the risk of travel, after all, isn’t that what makes it exciting? – you can hedge your bets.
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Angela Borden, a product marketing strategist at Seven Corners, says many travel insurance policies include COVID-19 coverage and can help with medical care-related expenses. If you’re a true scary cat, you can pay extra for a “cancel for any reason” policy, which allows you to cancel your vacation and recover 50% to 75% of your prepaid non-refundable costs.
“With ‘cancel for any reason’ travel insurance, you can cancel your trip due to financial hardship, fear of travel due to COVID, hostility at your destination or whatever else you want,” Borden says.
Europe is problematic
Before COVID-19, Europe was a major destination for American summer travelers. This year, Omar Kaywan, co-founder of the Goose Insurance app, says he expects Europe not to be as popular.
“While many travel restrictions have been lifted and we expect a busy travel season in 2022, the conflict in Eastern Europe has created some concerns for travelers,” he says.
Other observers agree that Europe is a problematic destination.
“A major concern for this year’s summer travel is the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing war in Ukraine and how it could affect travel plans in Europe,” said Mike Hallman, CEO of Medjet.
Most major European tourist destinations are far from the conflict. (TV reports aren’t always great for putting wars into meaningful geographic context.) Hallman says travelers to Europe should keep up to date with the State Department’s travel advisories and sign up for the Department of State’s smart traveler registration program. Status, a free service that informs travelers if something seriously goes wrong at their destination.
How to save on a last minute trip
It might seem like this is the summer to stay at home, but it could be a mistake. If you’re flexible with your vacation dates, avoiding busier times like Memorial Day and 4th of July, you can find reasonable flights, hotel rooms, and vacation rentals.
Expedia spokesperson Christie Hudson suggests saving money by combining flights, cars and hotels. Many online travel agencies offer packages. On Expedia, she says, travelers save an average of $ 600 when they package.
Flexibility can help you get a lower rate on a vacation rental. The demand for Vrbo properties typically declines after the peak of the summer season. If you have flexible travel dates, look for vacation rentals in late August or September, when competition is less stiff and prices are generally lower.
Good summer holidays
Chances are you’ll be going somewhere this summer, even if you’re not entirely comfortable with the idea. You’re more likely to get insurance, and if you play your cards right, you might even end up with a deal.
You will be in good company. Internal data from tour operator smarTours suggests that two-thirds of Americans will plan a vacation, which is in line with other traveler surveys. The world won’t be their oyster, though.
“Travelers don’t feel safe going to Eastern Europe this year,” notes Christine Petersen, CEO of smarTours, “Only 6% of travelers surveyed said they feel safe visiting this region.”
Summer travel will be more expensive and worrying, and you may have to select another destination. But cancel? Not this year.