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Inflation is crimping many Americans' holiday travel plans

Travel Mask Mandate
Posted at 8:00 AM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 10:00:54-04

Inflation could dash some of the holiday cheer for many Americans who plan on traveling for the season.

Surging gas, airfare and hotel costs are making travelers especially budget-conscious, according to a new survey from Bankrate. Americans said they plan to travel shorter distances, spend fewer days out of town and engage in fewer activities that cost money. More people are also planning to drive to their destination instead of flying, while others are planning to use credit card points to book trips, the personal finance site found.

Travel costs are up sharply compared to last year. Lodging away from home, which includes hotel stays, was up 4% in August from a year ago, according to the Consumer Price Index. Gasoline rose 26% during that same period, and airline fares jumped 28%, inflation data shows.

The days between November 24 and January 1 are the busiest times for domestic travel. The price of plane tickets and hotel stays during the holidays are expected to continue growing, with airfares reaching some of their highest points in the past five years, according to travel booking app Hopper.

Domestic flights on Christmas Day are roughly $435 on average for a round-trip fare, up 55% from last year, while Thanksgiving airfare prices are about $281 round-trip, a 25% increase from last year, Hopper's data shows. The average hotel stay over the Thanksgiving holiday will be $189 per night, up 13% from last year, and $218 a night during Christmas, up 32% from last year.

Holiday travel also proved a challenge earlier this year, particularly around Memorial Day, when passengers experienced thousands of canceled or delayed flights. The cancellations stemmed from a combination of bad weather, staffing shortages and TSA and airlines over-scheduling some flights.

"Hopefully this holiday season won't be as messy, but I suspect there will be more travel disruptions due to weather, high demand, lingering staff and equipment shortages," Bankrate senior industry analyst Ted Rossman said.