5 Ways Your Vacation Will Cost More Because of the Pandemic

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Last summer, you were forced to cancel your vacation due to the pandemic. Now that COVID-19 cases are on the decline, you’re ready to get out of town — and so is everyone else.

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More than two-thirds of Americans — 67%— are planning to travel this summer, according to Tripadvisor’s 2021 Summer Travel Index. Of this group, 74% will vacation domestically and 13% will jet off to international destinations.

Since the U.S. has one of the leading COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world — 51.9% of the population has had at least one vaccination as of June 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — many countries have re-opened their borders to leisure travelers. For example, Croatia, France, Morocco and Spain are now welcoming Americans back — some with restrictions.

No doubt, you’re excited to get away, but do realize, your trip might cost more than expected. Here’s a look at five areas where you’ll need to budget extra, because staying home is the only way to avoid these fees.

Last updated: June 22, 2020

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Mandatory Health Fees

If you want to visit certain countries, you’ll be required to purchase COVID-19 travel coverage. This type of insurance typically covers medical care up to $100,000 — which could include the cost of COVID-19 testing and services like evacuation or local burial or cremation — according to Reuters.

Health fees vary by country, so you’ll want to research your destination prior to booking. For example, Aruba and St. Maarten each have a mandatory fee of $30 per person for visitors 15 years old and up, dropping to $10 for infants to 14-year-old travelers.

The Bahamas is slightly more expensive, at $40 per person for fully vaccinated U.S. and Canadian citizens, rising to $50 for fully vaccinated travelers from other all other countries. However, children aged 10 and under are free.

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Gas Prices

In summer 2020, most people weren’t hitting the road, and gas prices reflected that. The lack of demand, combined with low crude oil prices, caused the national average gas price to tumble to $2.03 for the week of June 8, 2020 the lowest during this time period since 2004, according to AAA.

These low prices are no longer holding steady, as the national average cost of a gallon of gasoline was $3.07, as of June 17, 2021, according to AAA. Crude oil prices are on the rise, so this number could increase even before the month ends.

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Since leisure travel — especially by plane — wasn’t popular in 2020, the lack of demand caused airfares to decline. However, air travel is swiftly coming back, as more than 2.1 million people passed through TSA checkpoints on June 20, 2021, compared with just 590,456 on the same day in 2020.

The average price of roundtrip domestic plane tickets for summer 2021 is expected to be $283, reflecting a 35% increase from summer 2020 — when the average was $209 — according to the Hopper Consumer Airfare Index Report.

However, you probably won’t see much of a price increase for international travel. The price of a roundtrip ticket is expected to average $775 for summer 2021 — just a 3% rise from the $755 average during the same time period last year.

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Dining Surcharges

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has been hard on many restaurants. Some are offsetting extra costs by passing them on to customers in the form of dining surcharges.

For example, in May 2020, several restaurants in West Plains, Missouri implemented a 5% COVID-19 surcharge to customer bills, according to a report from news station KY3. Additionally, some San Francisco restaurants are planning to add a dining surcharge now that COVID-19 restrictions are ending, according to a June 2021 report from NBC Bay Area.

If you’re unwilling to pay a surcharge, check with each restaurant before dining to find out if any additional fees will be tacked onto your bill.

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Quarantine Costs

Many countries have reopened their borders to Americans — if you’re willing to quarantine upon arrival. Of course, you’ll have to foot the bill, so be ready to pay these added expenses.

For example, all travelers flying into Canada are required to book and pay for a three-night stay at a government-authorized hotel, while awaiting COVID-19 test results. Starting July 5, fully vaccinated travelers who meet all mandatory requirements will be able to waive this requirement.

Quarantining in Canada at a government-authorized hotel isn’t cheap. For example, rates at the Alt Hotel at the Toronto Airport start at $339 per night for single occupancy and $399 for a double occupancy package — which includes airport transportation and three meals a day delivered to your room, among other benefits.

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