Cheap travel is finally coming after an expensive summer

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With record fuel prices and skyrocketing airfares, the traditionally busy summer travel season has been a grueling one.

Relief, however, is on the way with the arrival of the slower travel season – known as shoulder season – as children return to school. But travelers should still expect to pay more than they have in recent years.

Even though bigger price drops are expected in the fall, the overheated summer prices are already starting to cool.

The national average for a gallon of gasoline on Monday was $4.21, down 14 cents from a week ago and down 63 cents from a month ago, according to AAA. That’s still more than a dollar a gallon more than a year ago.

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After months of increases, consumer price data showed air fares fell 1.8% in June from the previous month and accommodation fares fell 3.3%, based on US Travel Association travel prices. index.

In a pricing provide Posted on Monday, travel-booking app Hopper said domestic air fares will drop to an average of $286 round-trip this month, down 25% from the peak cost in May.

A dip from summer to fall is normal, but such a large drop is not, said Hopper’s senior economist, Hayley Berg.

“Typically, we would see maybe a 10-15% price drop,” she said. “And it really has more to do with how high prices are this summer and less with what happens this fall.”

Airline ticket prices peaked higher than expected in May and June, she said, thanks to soaring jet fuel prices, high demand and limited capacity.

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Hopper said Monday there was good news for hotel guests, too: The average cost of a night has fallen slightly from a high of $199 in mid-June to $185 now. The company expects hotel rates to continue falling this month before rising again in September and October.

Travel analyst Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, said a downturn in the economy would typically lead travel agencies – cruise lines, hotels, airlines, car rental companies – to cut price if demand drops. But he warned travelers shouldn’t expect pre-pandemic prices.

“Unless the bottom falls out of the economy, which doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment, I don’t think we’ll see travel prices fall to levels below those seen in 2019 or before, at least in the United States,” he said.

He said if the dollar remains strong against the euro, leisure travelers in Europe could pay relatively less than in 2019 for hotels, food and entertainment.

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Scott Keyes, founder of Scott Cheap Flights, recommend traveling in late summer or early fall, even for reasons other than lower prices. Early summer travel chaos, for example, is likely to be less of an issue with fewer people.

“It’s just because there’s a lot less pressure on the system in the fall,” he said.

Keyes said the weather was still generally good in the northern hemisphere in September and October (although hurricane season could upset plans) and the experience of exploring new places or revisiting favorites could be more. pleasant.

“The number of other tourists drops to a fraction because of the academic calendar, so you’re going to have a lot more leeway, a lot less competition when it comes to not just airfare, but also hotels, car rentals, activities,” he said. .

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