CINCINNATI — Are you looking forward to traveling again this summer? Surveys find that more than half of Americans are going to fly or hit the road.
Unfortunately, prices are back to pre-pandemic levels or higher in many cases, making the long-awaited travel comeback already a bit bumpy.
Shaniqua Long just arrived in Las Vegas to learn that car rental agencies are running short after selling off their fleets during the pandemic.
"They said they didn't have any cars, and I had already paid for it," she said.
Long was forced to pay more for an upgraded car.
Now, daily rates are as high as $200 a day in many areas (even $600 per day in Hawaii!) for what last year were $50-a-day rental cars.
Some Hawaii visitors are renting U-Haul trucks as a cheaper alternative, according to news reports.
Travel agent Varinnia Colemere said many travel necessities are experiencing a jump in demand and prices.
"It's car rentals, hotels, and airline tickets," she said.
Last summer's rates are gone
Travel expert Bobbi Rebell of the personal finance site Tally recommended booking summer plane tickets as soon as possible.
"Unfortunately, the super-low $30 airfares we were seeing at the height of the pandemic are not going to be available anymore," she said. "Airlines cut capacity, so right now we are having supply and demand that is not necessarily in balance."
She said the same is true with hotels in vacation spots, which are filling quickly and raising prices.
"We are seeing more demand, and prices are going up," Rebell said. "Maybe not at the same pace as airlines because they did not come down as much as airlines."
The only place where hotel rates remain near pandemic lows are in big cities like New York and Chicago, where tourists are still scarce.
With the future still uncertain, however, Rebell said make sure your plane ticket is changeable without penalty. You can still do that as long as you don't buy a Basic Economy seat on most airlines.
And she said you should purchase travel insurance for a resort vacation in case you need to cancel and so you don't waste your money.
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