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Friday, June 14, 2024

2024 Summer Travel: Pricey, Yet Unmissable

2024 Summer Travel Guide: Costs, Tips, & DestinationsSummer travel in 2024 will be “expensive in every way,” says Katharine Nohr. And she should know.

She’s planning a two-week adventure to Europe in June. It starts with a marathon flight from Honolulu to Zurich, where she’ll speak at a conference. Then she’s hopscotching across Europe—to Vienna and the Olympics. She plans to be in Nantes, France, to watch a soccer game, Lille for basketball, and Paris for gymnastics, boxing, and swimming.

All told, it’ll set her back five figures despite her best efforts, which include flying economy class and staying in the lowest-priced hotels. 

“The trip is pricey, even with my efforts to economize,” says Nohr, an attorney from Honolulu. “But it’s a once-in-my-life adventure.” 

Summer travellers are pursuing exciting, expensive vacations.

Nohr is part of a wave of travellers making big plans for this summer. The itineraries are exciting—and expensive. 

Every barometer of travel intent is up for the summer travel season. Inflation and unemployment are low, and consumer sentiment and curiosity are high, fueling an unprecedented interest in travel during the summer of 2024. 

“Bookings are rising,” says Susan Sherren, who runs Couture Trips, a travel agency. “Unfortunately, hotel, tour, and air prices are not falling. So, if you plan on hitting the road this summer, make sure you are willing to splash some cash.”

Travel companies say they’re overwhelmed with summer reservations.

“The travel economy is booming,” says Joe Ialacci, owner of Yacht Hampton Boating Club, a company that rents yachts in Sag Harbor, N.Y. He’s seeing a 40 percent increase in rentals this summer compared to last year as Americans shift some of their vacation dollars to domestic destinations.

Prices aren’t the only thing trending higher. People’s expectations for their summer vacation are also higher than ever since the pandemic, says Sangeeta Sadarangani, CEO of Crossing, a multinational travel agency headquartered in London

“They’re embracing the unknown,” she says.

And one of the great unknowns is travel prices. How much higher will they be?

What will prices be like this summer?

It depends on where you’re going. There’s good news if you’re travelling within the U.S.: flights and hotels are a little less expensive than last summer. But they’re rising elsewhere. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Airfares are mixed. Domestic roundtrip airfares for summer are averaging $325 per ticket, down 5 percent from last year, according to the travel platform Hopper. Flights to Europe are cheaper, too. They’ve fallen 12 percent from last year to $1,012. But flights to South America are up 4 percent, and flights to Canada have risen 5 percent. You’ll pay an average of $759 to fly south of the border and $430 to head north.
  • U.S. hotel rates are down. According to Kayak, domestic rates are down 7 percent to an average of $304 per night, while international rates are up 2 percent to $314 per night.
  • Car rental prices are rising. Kayak says average domestic rates are up 10 percent this summer to $113 per day. Last summer, rates dropped 14 percent after the car rental shortage ended. Internationally, rates are up 3 percent to an average of $88 per day.

But you can avoid the high prices with a bit of strategic planning, experts say.

What to avoid this summer

According to John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group, American travellers are becoming more predictable in their summer vacation choices. Immediately after the pandemic, they took “revenge” vacations to far-flung locations. Now, they’re returning to more conventional vacations.

“We continue to see U.S. travelers heading back to the more traditional locations across Europe this year, like London, Rome, Athens and Munich,” he says.

Some places will be bustling — and exceptionally pricey — this summer.

Paris during the Olympics. The Olympic Games are taking place in Paris this summer. Rooms are more than double the standard rates typical of the Olympics. Paris is already crowded with tourists during the summer, so you can probably imagine what it will be like with the Olympics. Zut, alors!

Taylor Swift is touring Europe this summer. Prices will be higher, and the crowds will be denser. “If you aren’t planning to attend one of her concerts, I recommend planning around those European cities when she’s there,” says Betsy Ball, co-founder of Euro Travel Coach. (Want to know if your schedules overlap? Here’s Taylor Swift’s concert schedule.)

Other significant summer events. Even if you steer clear of Taylor and the Olympics, you’re still not out of the woods. There’s the UEFA Euro 2024 football tournament in Germany in June. There’s the Tour de France in July, which begins in Florence and finishes in Nice. France will also host the Paralympic Games in August and September, which will occur in Paris, Nice, Marseille, and Bordeaux.

When is the best time to book a 2024 summer vacation?

Since this will be busy, the sooner you book, the better. Hopper recommends buying your airfare two to three months before you depart for domestic flights, and for international flights, it’s probably too late to get that rock-bottom fare. According to its airfare experts, if you’re reading this in April, you can still find something for late August or early September.

As always, you can save money by booking a flight for midweek instead of on the weekend—and, of course, by staying away from the extensive travel holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. 

Also, if you’re going overseas, remember their holiday calendar is different. For example, half of Europe shuts down during August for summer vacation. It’s worth a look-up; otherwise, you could face real disappointments.

Strategies for travelling better during the summer

One tactic that consistently works is splitting your getaway into two sections. Take that required summer vacation with your family somewhere less expensive during the high season. Then, wait until shoulder season for the big trip. 

That’s what Ross Copas, a retired electrician from Tweed, Canada, is doing during the summer of 2024. It’s a road trip across the northern U.S. by motorcycle- from New York to Washington State and then back east through Canada. 

Then he’s heading to Amsterdam in September for a 23-day European river cruise. He says the late summer getaway will be costly, but he doubts fares will fall soon. “So price be damned,” he adds.

That’s pretty smart. Many years ago, I took the same cruise he was planning, the Viking River Cruises, which was worth every penny.

With hotel rates rising in some places this summer, it’s time to consider alternatives. Monica Fish, a Glen Rock, N.J. writer, is headed to Ireland to catch one of Taylor Swift’s performances. She says hotel rooms in Dublin are overpriced if they’re even available, but Fish found an affordable vacation rental. 

“We just had to book it farther in advance than we normally would,” she says. 

Go ahead, follow the crowds this summer.

I think it’s okay to follow the crowds this summer. I’ll be doing it. I plan to rent an apartment for a month in Switzerland with Blueground, a long-term apartment rental company. Then I’m crashing on a friend’s sofa in Spain, heading to Sweden to see other friends and visiting my brother in Finland. Yes, travel writers know people everywhere

But don’t follow the crowds off a cliff. There are places I won’t even go to. I might take the four-hour train trip from Zurich to Paris in June to check out my favourite patisseries, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near the City of Lights during the summer games in July unless I made a reservation a long time ago.

And Taylor Swift? Puh-leeze. I’m more of a jazz guy.

 

 

 

Written by: Christopher Elliott

 

Christopher Elliott is an author, consumer advocate, and journalist. He founded Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps solve consumer problems. He publishes Elliott Confidential, a travel newsletter, and the Elliott Report, a news site about customer service. If you need help with a consumer problem, you can reach him here or email him at chris@elliott.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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