Spring Break is Back, But Can You Afford to Travel?

Traveler man sits on a tropical beach with his laptop and works; working in vacation concept.
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Spring break is so 2019 — or at least that’s how it probably seems to Americans who had to forego spring travel the past couple of years due to COVID-19. But now that the number of cases has dropped and most of the U.S. has eased COVID restrictions, millions of Americans are gearing for spring break travel again, if they can afford it.

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Airfare and gasoline prices have hit their highest levels in years due to a combination of supply chain disruptions, pent-up demand and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

The average round-trip domestic airline ticket for the period from March 7 to March 21 costs $290 — up from $240 for the same period last year, The Los Angeles Times reported, citing data from Hopper. If you want to book at the last minute, you’re looking at an average round-trip ticket price of $365.

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The average price for regular gasoline as of March 3 is $3.728 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s up from $3.543 a week ago, $3.413 a month ago and $2.737 a year ago.

Once you get to your destination you can expect to pay more for lodging as well. The average hotel rate this spring break is $165 per night, up from $129 last year and $148 in 2020, according to Hopper. And in some places you’ll pay a lot more than that.

“I’m seeing hotel rates at over $1,000 a night for rooms that were less than $300 in 2019, and people are paying it,” Jay Johnson, president of Coastline Travel Group, told The L.A. Times. “Spring break is definitely back.”

Restaurant meal prices have also surged over the last year amid an overall spike in food costs — and those prices are probably going to keep rising. As GOBankingRates previously reported, food prices that are already at their highest point in more than a decade are set to push even higher amid a global shortage of fertilizer that has worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine.

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But despite the rising costs, many folks are ready to plow ahead with travel plans. Nearly 40% of Americans plan to travel during spring break, up from 29% who said they were traveling for spring break 2021, according to a survey commissioned by Vacasa, a vacation rental company.

Vrbo, a home rental business, has reported a nearly 50% increase in demand for vacation homes this spring vs. the spring of 2021, The L.A. Times noted.

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However, there still aren’t as many travelers now as there were before the pandemic. The number of domestic flights in the U.S. so far this year is 12% below what it was in 2019, according to Airlines for America. International flights are down 21% over the same time frame.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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