Inflation to curb holiday travel plans

Higher costs are already disrupting American vacation travel plans 50 days before Thanksgiving.

A new survey by Bankrate found that about eight in ten, or 79%, of those surveyed are changing their plans due to inflation and rising prices. The consumer financial services company said 43% of the American adults who responded plan to travel this holiday season.

About 26% of respondents said they traveled fewer days, followed by less expensive activities or cheaper accommodation and destinations (25% each), fewer trips (24%) or shorter distances (23%).

Passengers wait in the terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, November 24, 2021. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz / Reuters photos)

Rising airfare and gas prices were among the main factors in changing holiday plans.

About 23% of respondents said they would drive to their vacation destinations instead of flying, while 12% said they would fly rather than drive.

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Around 22% of respondents said they would use accumulated credit card rewards points, miles and other loyalty programs to fund their vacation travel.

According to the latest consumer price index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from August 2021 to August 2022, air fares rose 33.4% and gasoline prices rose 25.6%. Out-of-home lodging, including hotels and motels, grew 4.5% over the period.

August 2022 inflation statistics chart trip

The consumer price index for travel has risen year-on-year. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics / Fox News)

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Another important factor in decision-making was household income.

Bankrate’s survey found that 86% of leisure travelers with annual household incomes under $50,000 will change their plans due to inflation and rising prices, compared with 79% of leisure travelers earning between $50,000 and $79,999, 77 % between $80,000 and $99,999 and 70% earn $100,000 or more.

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Gen Zers and Millennials were more likely to say inflation is driving changes in their vacation travel plans, with 82% of each group saying so. Meanwhile, 78% of Gen Xers and 73% of Boomers cited inflation as a way to optimize their vacation travel plans.

When to book?

To get the best possible deals this holiday season, many Americans are booking their trip in advance. According to AAA, the best time to book travel for Thanksgiving is less than a month before the holiday.

“The exception is to wait until Thanksgiving week itself to purchase, when the average ticket price starts to rise again,” AAA spokeswoman Aixa Diaz said in a blog post.

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According to Diaz, Tuesday appears to be overtaking Wednesday as the busiest day, while Sunday is the busiest.

“Monday flights tend to be cheaper, but if you want to save the most money — and avoid the travel rush — book a flight for Thanksgiving Day yourself,” she added.

According to Bankrate, 16% of the surveyed leisure travelers who need a travel reservation had booked before September and 15% planned to book in September. About 22% of respondents will make their reservation in October, followed by 21% in November and 11% in December. About 16% of respondents said they didn’t know what to do.

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2,455 adults took part in the survey, including 1,055 planning to travel on vacation and 829 who need a travel reservation.

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