Save money on summer travel despite rising gas prices and air fares with these expert tips

Gas station

Americans feel tricky when it comes to traveling in the midst of soaring gas prices, staff shortages and overall high demand, but experts say there are still ways to save and even get a good deal in the process when planning a summer trip.

“Revenge”, a term that became popular throughout the covid-19 pandemic when people longed for a refuge, is in full swing when a AAA survey is shared with Travel + Leisure found that more than half of Americans planned to take vacations this summer.

But that increase in demand, along with other external factors such as high gas prices, has created a huge price step from flights to hotels and even the cost of a drive – and it does not seem to stop. Of the 52% of Americans who told AAA they would travel this summer, 42% said they would not consider changing their travel plans regardless of the price of gasoline.

“The pent-up demand exists [and] people should travel. They have not traveled freely in two years, they will travel now, “Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel at AAA, told T + L.” They need respite, they need time off and they are not willing to give it up. . They will give up something else instead. “




The price at the pump is most noticeable when you refill a car for a car journey, but Twidale said that it also has a running effect and can be seen in nightly hotel prices and even restaurant prices. Currently, the average price of gas in the United States hovers just over $ 4 with some of the highest prices seen on the West Coast, according to AAA.

When it comes to rising air fares, another factor may be at work: the combination of high demand and staff shortages, which has led some airlines to cut back on summer schedules.

“The biggest factor here is the increased demand. We really see a huge demand for people taking their revenge vacation … while [there are] some problems with capacity and manning on the airline’s side, says Lousson Smith, a product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, to T + L. “People are basically offering fewer seats on these flights.”

But while higher rates may be hard to avoid, there are some things travelers can do to get the most out of their summer vacation at the lowest possible cost.

Be flexible when booking a flight

Smith said the best way to save money on flights is for travelers to be flexible with their dates and / or destinations. It’s a proven way to save money on a great vacation, both before and after the pandemic.

“If you have the flexibility to go wherever you go … go to that Google Explore map … and see what’s available over the next six months,” he said.

For those who may not be as flexible, Smith said they need to be “proactive” when it comes to searching for a trip, but there are still deals to be found. Smith pointed to popular flights such as New York to Fort Lauderdale, which are currently as low as $ 108 round trip, and New York to Milan, which are currently as low as $ 441 round trip.



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Book flights early

Smith said the best time to book a domestic flight is 1 to 3 months before the travel date, while the best time to book an international flight is 2 to 8 months before the trip.

“It will give you enough time to monitor and see how prices go up and down,” he said, adding, “If you are looking for summer travel, now is the time to start looking for cheap flights.”

Expand your flight search to include nearby airports

Travelers who can search for major airports where there is a lot of competition from airlines are likely to get a better price than travelers who are willing to fly from smaller airports or airports where an airline serves many of the departing flights (such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for example, where many of the flights run on Delta Air Lines), Smith noted.

“It really depends on how much competition there is at the airport,” he said

Plan a road trip closer to home

Countless Americans will hit the road this summer, and while rising gasoline prices may give travelers a break, Twidale said just changing the route could help save people’s vacations and their wallets.

“We have a whole spring and summer ahead of us before people get on the road domestically and travel in the United States and gas prices affect that,” she said. “They may not stay as long or may adjust their routes.”

Smith pointed to the country’s abundance of large national parks that are scattered throughout the United States as an option for road trips.

“You can not really avoid the cost of the pump, that’s what it is,” he said. “But you can find closer options where you are.”



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Make sure your car is in top shape

Before embarking on a car journey, AAA recommends that travelers ensure that their tires are properly inflated and that they use the correct type of gas for their vehicle so that they get the greatest possible mileage.

See your speed

Fuel economy actually peaks at around 50 mph on most cars, so AAA says drivers can reduce their highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph to save some money. This can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%.

In addition, travelers should avoid excessive idling as it can cost a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour. And drivers can save fuel by avoiding unnecessary stops and reductions (think: use “fast pass” toll lanes).

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York, she likes to spend her time on the beach or explore new destinations and hopes to visit all the countries in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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