Record Memorial Day weekend fuels soaring travel costs
As the summer holiday season approaches, airports across the country are bracing for a flood of fliers.
According to figures recently released by AAA, the Remembrance Day The weekend is expected to be one of the busiest ever, with more than 42 million Americans expected to take flight, marking an 11% increase from last year.
However, the dream of a budget-friendly pre-Memorial Day vacation turned into an expensive trip for Kelsey Elizondo and Isaiah Wright after the couple, returning home to Atlanta from Salt Lake City, Utah, discovered that airfare costs had skyrocketed.
“It’s outrageous how expensive it is to fly now. It’s crazy. We traveled a lot before the kids and felt like we could go anywhere even on a budget” , Elizondo said.
This year, traveling with their two young children doubled their flight costs.
In April, airfares jumped a significant 2.7% from March. Although it remains slightly lower than last summer, it is almost 10% higher than it was before the pandemic, according to a report on air travel consumers published by the United States Department of Transportation.
Not only are flights more expensive, but hotels have also seen a price spike, up 3.5% from last year and a staggering 15% increase since 2019.
However, there is an upside for travelers opting for road trips, as car rentals are expected to be cheaper this summer, down 11% from last year, but still 51% higher. than four years ago.
According to Sally French, a holiday inflation tracker for NerdWallet, a personal finance website, increased travel demand has driven prices higher.
“So people should expect to pay more for their trip than they have in the past two years,” French warned.
In an attempt to save money, 35% of travelers surveyed by NerdWallet chose to drive instead of fly, taking advantage of gas prices that are more than a dollar lower on average than those in the ‘last year.
“I didn’t think gas was going to be a big deal, but I almost spent a thousand dollars and we didn’t go more than 2,000 miles. That’s crazy,” said Jacob Rash, who filled out his motorhome. at a Buc-ee’s in Georgia for $2.85 a gallon.
The cost of various holiday activities has also seen a sharp increase. Food outside the home has jumped almost 9% from last year and 24% since 2019. Plus, movies and concerts now cost around 7% more than last year , which further strains holiday budgets.
With all of this growing spending, travelers find themselves spending a lot more than they originally planned. Kelsey Elizondo shared her experience saying, “What we thought we were going to spend versus what we actually spent is crazy.”
As the summer vacation season kicks off, travelers should be prepared for more intense than usual rush hours, especially from Thursday afternoon. Further peak times are expected Monday afternoon and early Tuesday evening, according to AAA.