Airfares, hotel prices and rental car prices all fell in July. Here’s how you can get a good deal – CNBC | Vette Leader

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Travelers saw prices drop for large chunks of their vacation budgets in July, offering at least a temporary respite from rising costs earlier this year.

Airfares fell nearly 8% from June to July, while rental car prices and accommodations such as hotels fell 9.5% and about 3%, respectively, according to a monthly inflation report released by the US Department of Labor on Wednesday. It was the second consecutive month of price declines for each category.

“This is really good news I think when people are planning their vacations,” said Sally French, travel expert at NerdWallet.

Airline ticket prices peaked in May this year, driven by factors including increased consumer demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and operational issues for airlines such as high kerosene costs and staff shortages, which prompted companies to cut flight schedules, experts said.

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That rise in airfares in early 2022 was “anomalous,” said Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper.

Hotel and rental car prices also hit record highs in the spring, while high fuel costs also helped stretch travel budgets.

“Many” people have been traveling lately, despite the high cost

According to Destination Analysts, a tourism market research firm, 39 percent of travelers said that the overall cost of travel kept them from traveling more than they would have otherwise preferred over the past six months. Almost half, 47%, explicitly mentioned fuel costs and 27% flight costs.

Financial worries have compounded other travel issues in recent months, such as B. An increase in lost luggage and delayed or canceled flights.

However, “many” people still traveled in the summer — more than half of Americans took a trip in the past month, according to a Destination Analysts survey conducted in July.

Despite the recent slowdown, travel remains largely more expensive than before the pandemic. Air fares increased by 16% in July compared to July 2019, according to the monthly CPI data.

Hotels are up a more modest 6% over the same period, while rental cars are up about 48%, which is “easily the biggest price increase of all [travel] category that we are pursuing,” French said. In addition to consumer demand, factors such as a semiconductor shortage that have impacted the broader auto industry have spilled over to consumers, she added.

“It’s still important to remember [that] If you haven’t traveled or taken a major trip since pre-Covid, expect to pay more than you’re used to,” French said.

This is how you get good deals on upcoming trips

Travel experts had a few tips to ease the sting of potentially costly trips.

Travelers who can remain flexible about vacation dates could potentially get a better deal on the airfare, French said. For example, a tool like Google Flights allows users to compare prices for selected travel dates as well as other combinations earlier or later in the week or month, she said.

You may find that adding a day to a trip can save you enough airfare to more than offset an extra night in a hotel—and give you an extra day of vacation.

“I would encourage people to be really flexible with their budgeting,” French said.

For the best airfares, travelers planning a domestic trip in the fall should book their airline tickets at least three to six weeks before departure, after which fares tend to rise quickly, Berg said.

Flying in the fall is also one of the best ways to save on international airfares, as prices are often lower in September and October compared to the summer months, Berg added. Travelers generally get the best deal if they book about four weeks in advance, she said.

Additionally, departing during the week rather than on peak days generally saves about $35 per ticket, according to Hopper.

However, travelers might be better served by booking a hotel closer to their arrival date, especially for destinations in major cities with numerous accommodation options, experts said. That’s because hotels often lower their rates to clear inventory as the check-in date approaches.

I would encourage people to be really flexible with budgeting.

Sally French

Travel Expert at NerdWallet

Renting a car at a major airport hub can also be safer, especially when demand is high – the typically larger vehicle fleets at those hubs make it less likely that a company will say they don’t have a vehicle for you on arrival, Berg said. For example, travelers who prefer to fly into a regional airport may consider hiring a car from a major airport nearby and taking a taxi there.

Reimbursable travel can also offer a financial advantage — especially compared to rental cars and hotels — for travelers willing to put in a little extra leg work, French said.

For example, travelers can often choose to defer payment for these purchases until their arrival date. While travelers may pay a slightly higher price for this luxury, opting for a fully refundable hotel or rental car purchase allows travelers to monitor prices before their trip. If the price drops before then, travelers can book at the lower price and then cancel their original booking, French said. However, consumers should of course be aware of any restrictions that may apply.

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