Cost of fuel doesn’t appear to affect American summer travel plans

When gas prices go up, it also costs more to fill up planes, trains and buses. In turn, the cost of a summer vacation rises.

With fuel costs spiking, one would expect travel demand to decrease, right? Not according to Expedia’s Christie Hudson.

“Every indication we have right now is that it’s actually not deterring people yet from making plans for the summer,” said Hudson.

She said the booking of flights and hotels, and the renting of cars and homes, continue to peak, partly because people don’t want to budge on what will be, in some cases, their first post-COVID getaway.

“People are just a little bit more willing, uniquely willing right now, to spend a little bit more in order to go away,” Hudson said.

She said gas price hikes have historically resulted in delayed or canceled trips, but this time around, people may be making trade-offs, such as booking an all-inclusive resort to save on food costs.

“But right now we’re like, ‘I’m tired of canceling, I’ve already canceled or postponed multiple trips, I deserve this trip,’” Hudson said.

Would it be smart and see whether gas prices go down and lead to cheaper plane ticket? Not likely, Hudson said.

“The only time we really see airline prices go down is when airlines have trouble filling seats, and that’s just not a problem that they’re having right now,” said Hudson.

Some tips for paying less:

Not all summer days are created equal. Hudson said the second half of August is the cheapest travel time of the summer — about 10% cheaper than flying in July and 5% less than in June. On the other hand, planning travel around July 4 will cost about 25% more.

When booking flights, flying on Fridays is much more expensive than taking to the sky on a Tuesday.

Hudson said summer travel to U.S. cities is also making a comeback — many travelers avoided those locations due to COVID-19 because activities were suspended and restaurants were closed.

“Round trip flight prices and places like Chicago, New York, San Francisco are all a little bit more affordable than it is to fly to Hawaii or the Caribbean,” Hudson said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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