It’s starting to look like we can make some kind of real plans again to get away from home and enjoy traveling as we always did before COVID-19. But when you do go back to life as you knew it, how are you going to feel? If you haven’t yet ventured out of your home, or even more daringly gone away on a vacation yet, you are not alone. For most of us, just getting back to work or any kind of “normal” routine is still the adventure we are experiencing. There are lots of questions about what we should know and do when it comes to “post-pandemic” life and vacation travel. But as you do it, beware.
The number of people getting out and traveling is on the rise and so are all of the prices!
Caution Has Been My Middle Name
Just yesterday, I went shopping in an actual store for the first time since March of 2020 (yes, I am a highly at-risk person for COVID-19) and I still found myself being very wary despite now being fully vaccinated.
Up until yesterday, my wife has been the only one us of who has actually done the shopping, and I have been limited only to heading outdoors to our local park and visits to the doctors that I see. There is an actual world of people out there beginning to act like the switch has been turned on and life has resumed! It’s wonderful and yet still scares me.
Shopping meant actually seeing the price tags. The resulting sticker shock is always an eye-opener no matter how much experience I have with it.
When it comes to health questions, I know I am not a doctor nor maybe even in the majority when it comes to my opinions on resuming life as we knew it. But I’m going to move very slowly anyway over the next few months. With the projections that 70% of all Americans will be vaccinated by July 4th, there’s a lot of optimism around. But 70% isn’t everyone and then there’s the fact that there’s a whole big world out there that is still suffering from a pandemic. Until everyone is vaccinated, I’m guessing there’s still danger lurking around us.
While I admit that I am not any kind of expert on the health questions, I do know a little something about money issues and the pandemic.
Vacation Travel 2021?
Are you one of the people who had a great vacation planned and booked for last year and then suddenly had your plans blow up in your face when the pandemic hit? Did you have a trip on the books that was cancelled because of the pandemic?
Because of that, you may have been one of the many who got a travel voucher to use because you had paid for a vacation. Now you can actually think about using it for 2021. That is good news. You aren’t going to take a big financial hit on vacation travel and it’s just the R&R you want and need. Like many Americans who’ve now received their COVID vaccine, you are thinking about cashing in your travel vouchers.
Inflation and Vacation Travel
I have been writing about the inflation factor for post-pandemic life now for months and vacation travel is just another part of it all.
If you don’t already have a pre-paid travel voucher from your air carrier or hotel, this is one expense you may want to book immediately or put off—perhaps even put it off entirely to save money. That’s because as of this past April 1st, the price of air travel began to climb!
Prices on domestic flights were up 9%, and 17% for international travel. According to research, prices are expected to continue to tick upwards all year long. Overall, airfares were up 9.6% over last year month to month.
There’s no doubt that we want to get out and visit our friends and families, and that includes those who are a plane trip away. Air travel demand is rising so quickly that you could say that the pandemic’s lack of air travel is over. When demand spikes the way it has, only one thing happens: prices go up!
Cheaper fares or basic fares that save money are being limited and you may have to buy regular, more expensive seating when you fly.
The cost for a hotel stay is also going up. Between mid-March and the end of April, the average hotel price was rising significantly. In fact, compared to January 2021, they went up on average 11%.
Hotel prices in the most popular destinations are way up right now. Resort hotel costs like in Cancun, Mexico and Hawaii are up over 100% from last year at this time. But even scarier is that they are also up 10-25% over pre-pandemic prices.
The nightly rates domestically are still below last year at the moment, but the prices are rising quickly because of demand. That means act now to book or wait until the prices settle back down to earth when things truly return to “normal”.
Ok, What About a Road Trip?
So maybe you’re thinking you’ll just book a road trip? You probably already see it, but gas prices are way up, too. According to statistics, gasoline costs rose 48.9% in April over the year before! The price right now is about $3.00 per gallon nationally and that is expected to at best continue and at worst increase over the summer.
The cost of gas and taking a road trip is now higher than it has been in the past seven years.
But it’s not just leisure travel that gas prices are affecting. The cost of doing business, shipping and delivering raw materials and finished products all over the USA and the world are affected too. Gasoline and energy costs are a chief reason stoking inflation.
The Alternative to Getting Away?
Instead of leaving home, how about planning a stay-at-home vacation (aka a staycation)? I know you’ve spent the past year stuck at home, but maybe you can think about sprucing up your home or backyard to find your own luxury escape.
Not only can you save money by doing it, you may actually be making a good investment and increasing the value of your home when you do.
Decorate your landscape with some beautiful trees and/or plants, get a new grill or backyard seating arrangement, put up an awning to provide some extra shade to enjoy. Some people have even expanded their stereo systems to play their favorite tunes on their backyard patio!
And don’t forget day trips to your local sights of interest. All of us so rarely visit these places once we’re a resident and not a tourist. But no matter where you live, you can find nearby places to explore and provide the in-person entertainment we’ve all been missing.
I haven’t dealt with any of the real health concerns you may have about travel this year, but you should consider them very seriously. Domestic travel may be safer than foreign travel. The inflation factor is only one thing to consider about your vacation. So make a wise decision that includes your finances but also makes complete sense for you and your family, too.
What are your summer travel plans for 2021? Day trips or big trips? Backyards or back to normal? Where are you on planning your next vacation in 2021?