Summer travel rush begins as gas, hotel and airfare prices rise


“Know before you go” was a phrase in use at […]

“Know before you go” was a phrase in use at the height of the pandemic two years ago as travelers were urged to double-check their accommodations and transit options before heading off on trips away from home.

While many of the pandemic restrictions and rules have since eased, travelers during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and beyond would still be well advised to check things out.

This time, though, you should be prepared for sharply higher prices, especially for gas, hotel rooms and airfares, and the return of crowds.

“We’re paying for the pent-up demand,” said Jean Gagnon, of Latham’s Plaza Travel. Plane or hotel reservations for this weekend, she said, have already been made by people months ago. And now, travelers who may want to go somewhere on Labor Day, at the end of the summer, should be making their plans. “Flights are full,” she said.

“It’s a very tumultuous situation,” remarked Bob Provost, president and CEO at the New York State Tourism Industry Association.

To be sure, the metrics for tourism/travel in New York haven’t surpassed pre-pandemic numbers. But the decline from earlier years has been slashed by more than half. 

“The pace of recovery for the state overall has escalated,” said Provost, a former Times Union marketing executive.

Statewide, the numbers are tilted because of New York City.  A top 10 global attraction, the city is still struggling with staff shortages at restaurants and hotels and a lack of international travelers.

Ready to spend?

No matter where you are going, prepare to pay more to reach your destination and to sleep there.

According to the national AAA, even the lowest airfares are up 6 percent over last year, while midrange hotels are up 43 percent.

Car rental costs are up a shock-inducing 170 percent and, of course, gas is up 51 percent.

Nationally a gallon of regular gas sold for an average of $3.03 a year ago compared to $4.60 as of this week, according to AAA.

In New York this week gas averaged $4.93 per gallon, with Capital Region prices averaging $4.88 and New York City at $5.05.

Airfares are climbing out of sight. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index airfares have jumped 33 percent year to year.

From March to April of this year alone, they rose 18.6 percent, which was the steepest one-month jump ever.

 “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA.
Overall, AAA predicts that 39.2 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home this weekend, an 8 percent increase over last year.

One group that won’t be catching up, though, are visitors from abroad.

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