The Summer Travel Paradox

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Then we have the economic impact on your pocketbook: Expect to pay a little more for air travel this summer. Based on a 30-day sampling of published-price summer airline tickets booked through Priceline.com, the average domestic airfare for June travel was $375, up 1.4 percent from a year ago. August’s average domestic airfare is $377, or 1.5 percent more than last year. July flyers are paying about the same as last year, with an average domestic airfare of $388.

When it comes to the crowds, you could find yourself waiting in long lines at hotels, too. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that the average hotel occupancy in the United States this year will reach 62.2 percent, the most crowded that hotels have been since 2007.  And you’ll be paying more to stand in that line: Hotel prices are up 7% from last year. Travelocity said the average daily rate for a Memorial Day hotel booking is $157.

So what’s your advice?
First, prepare to hurry up and wait. Be early for flights and try to book trips in advance to get better deals. Generally the sweet spot for buying is four to six weeks before you travel. Prices are highest eight to 10 weeks and two to three weeks in advance. You can also save some money by booking early morning or late evening flight times that tend to be less expensive.

Also, it’s counterintuitive, but flying out on one airline and back on another can result in a less expensive fare than flying round-trip on a single airline.

So many airlines are charging for baggage now, so you can save by packing lightly. And consider bundling the cost of a rental car into the airfare.

For hotels, look into hidden costs like parking and join any available loyalty programs—it might mean perks like free Wi-Fi.

But the long and the short of it is that people are getting comfortable spending more money, and that’s a direct result of a recovering economy, so think of the money you spend and the crowds you suffer as an act of patriotism!

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