Personal Finance

This Summer, Gas Prices and Inflation Could Deter Travelers More So Than COVID Rates

A driver fills their car's gas tank, frustrated at the rising price.

Image source: Getty Images

Americans might stay close to home for different reasons than last summer.


Key points

  • Last summer, fear of the delta variant kept some people from traveling.
  • This year, high costs are playing more of a role in that decision.

The summer of 2021 was initially pegged as the summer of revenge travel — that is, until the delta variant fueled a massive uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country. These days, omicron and its string of subvariants are wreaking havoc in several parts of the U.S. But it’s not COVID-19 that’s likely to keep people closer to home this summer. Rather, it’s inflation and the ever-climbing cost of gas.

In a recent survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 90% of respondents pointed to gas prices and inflation as factors that could impact their travel plans over the next three months. By contrast, only 78% cited COVID-19 rates as a factor in their plans.

What’s more, 57% of those surveyed said they’re likely to take fewer trips due to the current cost of gas, while 54% said they’ll likely take shorter trips. Worse yet, 44% of respondents said they’re likely to postpone trips due to the cost of gas, and 33% will likely just cancel their travel plans altogether.

If you’re already worried about the impact inflation and high gas costs will have on your summer plans, you’re clearly in good company. The good news, though, is that there are steps you can take to save money on gas — and travel in general.

How to cut your gas costs

Even though gas prices are soaring, it’s possible to keep your costs down. For one thing, research gas prices before you fill up your car using apps like GasBuddy. And make sure you have a credit card that rewards you generously at the pump.

At the same time, some gas stations offer substantial discounts for drivers who pay for fuel with cash. And so it pays to crunch the numbers to see which option will save you the most — a cash discount, or a generous amount of cash back from your credit card.

How to save on travel

The cost of dining out has soared tremendously now that restaurants are being forced to grapple with higher expenses and wages. If you want to pull off travel more cheaply, it pays to look at renting a private home rather than booking a hotel stay. Not only might you spend less on lodging, but you could save hundreds of dollars in the course of a week by prepping meals in a kitchen rather than dining out.

At the same time, if you don’t have kids, consider postponing your travel plans until school has started again in August or September. Once that happens, you may find it’s less expensive to book a place to stay.

Will high costs ruin your summer travel plans?

Last year, a lot of people had to rethink their plans when the delta variant struck. This year, sky-high prices could be the greatest deterrent for would-be travelers.

Even with the tips above, you may need to cut back on spending or boost your income with a side job to pull off your travel plans without landing in debt. But if you’re eager to get out and explore new places, it may be more than worth that effort.

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