After a long and sometimes stressful year, Ilyse Rykus and her husband David are very much looking forward to their trip to the Pacific Northwest in August.
The couple travel with David’s parents, who travel to Oregon annually to visit family in the area. All of them have been vaccinated and they are all safe. One of David’s uncles died of COVID-19, which made the trip even more meaningful.
“We never joined them, but given everything that has happened over the past year, we thought it was a good move to be with the family,” said Rykus, who lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.
But the vacation is also an opportunity to relax – Rykus will be 30 years old this summer and will visit places she has never been to during the trip. “My husband and I can’t travel a lot together. When we do, we’ll try to make the best of it,” she said. “It will be exciting to explore with the people I love.”
Like many other Americans, Rykus and her husband have saved up on their travels, and the couple plans to use credit card points they’ve saved for nearly two years to pay for their flights. The hospitality family also helped the couple find deals on hotels.
“It will be exciting to explore with the people I love.”
Research shows that this will be the summer of the “vengeance journey”. A survey by Charles Schwab
found traveling was the top article on people’s spending lists, with 40% of people listing this as something they want to spend money on. Another 24% of people said they would like to take a longer vacation.
These results mirror other research showing just how eager Americans are to take to the streets – or to go to heaven. A study published by the travel website Skyscanner in late April found that more travelers booked trips in May and June of this year than in 2019. Another survey by research company Ipsos
found that half of Americans planning a trip plan a road trip, while 40% plan short breaks with flights.
Even in a normal year, the warmer months are not always the cheapest to travel. “Summer is always the most expensive time of the year to travel because you have nice weather and students, teachers and parents with children at school who can only travel during these times,” said Scott Keyes, founder of travel website Scotts cheap flights.
However, this is not a normal year. Many people were forced to cancel trips over the past year due to the pandemic, and many of them are sitting on travel credits they are dying to use. Airlines and other tour operators are working to ramp up operations in response to increased demand, but it will take time. And airlines will be cautious about putting more planes back into service to offer more flights in case the pandemic worsens again and demand for travel subsides.
“Summer is always the most expensive travel time of the year.”
Experts have therefore warned that travel could quickly become expensive this summer. For example, the latest US government report on consumer prices showed a record rise in airfares.
The long-awaited summer vacation doesn’t have to break the bank, however. Here are tips from finance and travel experts on how to save money on your post-pandemic getaways:
Book sooner rather than later
This may seem obvious, but summer is just around the corner. And although last-minute offers can arise, they are not guaranteed. The more time you give yourself researching hotel, flight, and activity prices, the more likely you are to get the best deal possible.
“If you wait until Memorial Day to book your summer flights, the chances of getting something cheap aren’t good at all,” Keyes said. He noted that there are still cheap fares, such as round-trip flights between the US and Athens, Greece, for $ 560.
But waiting too long can cost you. Once you know where and when to go, start monitoring the cost of air travel to that destination so you can spot a good deal and get it quickly.
Note that credit card points and airline miles can soon lose their value
Another reason not to wait: airline miles and credit card points could soon lose their value. With so many people sitting on unused points and miles from last year, airlines have an incentive to reduce their value, said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at LendingTree
“It will likely happen slowly and gradually, but I think it will probably happen. So it is best for consumers to start using the points they have sooner rather than later,” Schulz said.
Do your travel planning in reverse order
When booking a trip, most people first think about where and when they want to go and only start to consider the price at the end of the decision-making process. Instead, Keyes suggests a reverse approach.
“If we put price as the last priority, it’s not surprising that we end up with some pretty expensive flights,” he said. Instead, he recommends figuring out which flights are cheapest from your local airport, then figuring out which destination seems the most attractive, and then figuring out when to travel.
Websites like Skyscanner
provide opportunities to explore the wide range of options in this way. Of course, for this strategy to work, people need to be flexible about when to travel.
Enjoy $ 0 change fees while you’re still here
Don’t be afraid to change your travel plans if there’s a better deal. After the pandemic, the vast majority of airlines waived flight change fees to allow people to change their travel plans due to the pandemic. These guidelines still apply to many airlines. So if you see a better price, see if it’s free to switch. All savings will be returned to you in a voucher for future trips, Keyes said.
Make the most of flight vouchers
Nadine Marie Burns, CEO and president of the consulting firm A New Path Financial, and her husband had canceled three trips due to the pandemic. Like many people, they received vouchers for their unused flights. When the trip reopened, Burns began to work himself to put some trips together.
Eventually she called her airline Delta
and the customer service representative helped her book a first class trip to Reno, Nevada for her and her husband using their e-vouchers and points. “Sometimes putting the puzzle together is a championship when we all seem to have so many different pieces, like e-tickets, points, companion rates and more,” said Burns.
Of course, people need to keep an eye on the fine print of any remaining flight vouchers. Many of the coupons have an expiration date, said Jordan Staab, president of SmarterTravel Media and Airfarewatchdog. In most cases, travelers must book their trips by that date, but can travel after that.
Flight vouchers from canceled trips often have expiration dates.
“A cool trick that we have successfully used is to book a flexible ticket with the voucher. You can change it at a later date if necessary so that you can stay in control beyond the expiration date,” said Staab.
Use reward credit cards wisely
Many people were able to save money and pay off their credit card debt during the pandemic, thereby improving their creditworthiness. Now could be a prime time to take advantage of a reward credit card.
“The credit card space is incredibly competitive right now, and that’s good for consumers looking for deals,” said Schulz. “Issuers know that there is an explosion of pent-up spending ahead and they are making good deals on new cards in the hopes of getting as much of that spending as possible.”
Finding great new credit card sign-up bonuses is easy, but there is a risk: credit cards can cause people to spend beyond their means. Given the high interest rates that credit cards have compared to other loans, it is not worth saving on a loan if you end up running into a large amount of debt. Buyers should try to pay their remaining balance in full on each payment cycle to avoid high interest rates.
Spending more can actually save you money
By spending a little extra money on a trip, you can have peace of mind when your plans change. Do you remember how airlines allow people to change their flights for free? In many cases, this policy does not apply to what are known as “basic economy” fares, which are the cheapest tickets you can buy.
“If you book a few months and then travel internationally, it can often be worth the extra $ 30 or $ 40 as it gives you the flexibility to change your dates,” Keyes said.
With that in mind, travelers should consider investing in travel insurance, especially for international travel, as border entry policies can change dramatically as the pandemic progresses.
“Many credit cards offer at least travel insurance, and that can be helpful,” said Schulz. “However, if you want maximum protection, consider paying a little more for it.”