Vacation inflation! How the cost of travel has gone up this year

As the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer, experts are warning that your vacation could set you back more this year. 

Rampant inflation means that the price of a hotel booking, an airfare, and dining out have all soared since this time last year. 

The latest statistics released by the US Labor Department earlier this month showed that annual inflation has risen by 4.9 percent since April 2022. Despite cooling below 5 percent, the rate still remains stubbornly above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target level. 

Analysis of the Consumer Price Index by the Boston Herald charted the average prices of common traveler expenses for the first four months of this year compared to 2022.  

This so-called ‘vacation inflation scorecard’ showed that the cost of going out of town this summer has shot up, and even ‘fun’ expenses are not immune from price hikes. 

Domestic airline tickets are up by 16 percent this year compared to last year – and 9 percent since 2019. 

Staffing shortages mean flight numbers are down, despite the number of people traveling being back up to pre-pandemic levels. This means ticket prices are soaring and airlines are posting record profits.

Higher fuel costs are also continuing to put upward pressure on airfares. 

According to travel booking app Hopper, the average return flight will peak at $349 per ticket for 4th July weekend trips this year. 

Staying in a hotel will also set you back more this year compared to 2022, according to the Boston Herald – with a room costing 7 percent more. 

Discounted room rates are more difficult to find, and staff shortages since the pandemic continue to be an issue, pushing up labor costs.  

Going out for dinner is also 8 percent pricier this year compared to last, and has soared by a huge 24 percent in the last four years. 

Rising labor costs persist in the hospitality sector, and the cost of food and supplies remains stubbornly high. 

If you fancy going for cocktails or a cold beer on your vacation, this will also set you back more than it did last summer – with ‘alcohol away from home’ having risen by 6 percent, according to the index. 

Sports tickets have also been hiked by 3 percent, while ‘entertainment’ – including going to the movies, watching a play at the theater or going to a music concert – have gone up by an average of 7 percent. 

And if you’re considering whether an outdoor vacation could be kinder on your expenses – think again. 

The price of ‘outdoor supplies’, including camping equipment, has shot up by 11 percent since last year and a whopping 28 percent since 2019. 

A couple of cocktails on vacation will also cost you 6 percent more this year than in 2022

A couple of cocktails on vacation will also cost you 6 percent more this year than in 2022

Sports tickets have also been hiked by 3 percent

Going out for dinner is also 8 percent pricier this year

Going to a sports game or going out for dinner will also cost you more this year than last

Some key vacation expenses, however, have fallen in the past year. 

If you’re planning an old-fashioned road trip, you may be in luck. The cost of gasoline has fallen by 9 percent since 2022 – and regular gas is currently at $3.582 per gallon according to the AAA. 

Car rentals are down by 5 percent this year, but still up by 49 percent since 2019. According to personal finance website NerdWallet, National almost always had the highest rental car prices, with average weekly rental car prices of nearly $700. 

The cheapest car rental company, Enterprise, offered car rentals at an average weekly price of just $480. 

Cruises have continued to get increasingly less expensive – falling by 2 percent this year and a total of 6 percent in the last four years. 

The data comes as experts warn US vacationers to prepare for a ‘summer of hell,’ with this weekend predicted to be the third-busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000. 

Industry leaders have warned that such demand has not been met by sufficient planning, and this could lead to chaos for travelers.

‘This summer’s travel demand will be as strong as we’ve seen since before the pandemic, and potentially the strongest ever,’ Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association told Forbes.

‘That kind of demand in a system that is woefully underfunded and understaffed is likely to create substantial frustrations among travelers.’