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With airfares skyrocketing, here’s how to save money when you travel

This article reprinted with permission from nerd wallet.

After years of switching plans and compromises, many travelers are finally ready for a real vacation this summer. But here’s the rub: Prices are skyrocketing as pent-up demand meets limited availability.

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, average air fares rose 33% in April compared to 2021, and prices only appear to be accelerating.

While flight and hotel prices are higher now than during most of the pandemic, they are nothing compared to rental car prices, which have remained high since last summer. According to the BLS, rental car prices rose a staggering 70% in April from pre-pandemic rates in April 2019. Airfares have had their own share of jumps. Although airfares have been below pre-pandemic levels for most of the past two years, they have risen significantly over the past two months.

Anyone who has searched for summer travel doesn’t have to delve very deep into the data to know that it’s expensive. Looking around in May, a Google Flights search for round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Rome showed only a single date under $1,000 in June and July.

So what should a budget traveler do?

Read: With Gas Prices And Inflation Rising, Should You Take A Vacation Or Staycation?

Wait a month or two longer if you can

If summer travel could break your budget, consider extending your vacation by a month or more.

“Airfares in September and October typically drop compared to the peak summer months,” Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper, a travel booking platform, said via email.

Berg cites student return-to-school as a key reason for this fall in demand, which points to an important caveat: Off-season travel only works for those who have the flexibility to take advantage of the cost savings.

But even in mid to late August, prices tend to fall from their July highs.

“Although fares have increased on all weekends this summer compared to 2019, August has seen the least increase in fares,” Berg said.

And sure enough, when we did our research in May, most round-trip fares from Los Angeles to Rome fell below $1,000 in August and September.

Keep track of prices, they may cool down

Summer prices rising is one thing, but this year the cost of travel is also meeting unprecedented demand, limited supply and rampant global inflation.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, kerosene prices at the end of April were the highest in over 30 years. Since the impact of high fuel prices isn’t usually reflected immediately in airfares, summer airfare costs could be even higher by the time you’re reading this.

Yes, prices could keep rising throughout the summer, making $1,000 tickets to Italy look like a decent deal. But they’re more likely to cool off in late summer and early fall, when this unique combination of factors returns to something normal.

See also: The national average for gasoline has hit $5 gallons, AAA and GasBuddy say — and brace yourself for the number to keep rising

Take advantage of the strong dollar and choose locations wisely

A ray of hope in the gloomy travel landscape: The US dollar is currently strong against many foreign currencies. For example, a dollar is worth 0.94 euros as of this writing, compared to 0.82 euros in May 2021. That may not seem like a lot, but it has implications for every aspect of a travel budget, from hotel rooms to train tickets to food.

But be careful: this effect is not uniform. For example, the dollar is actually weaker against the Mexican peso than it was at the start of the pandemic. And while the dollar is particularly strong against the Japanese yen, travel to Japan (and many other countries) remains severely restricted.

you might like: How to choose the best seat on the plane

If you want to travel this summer

Everyone wants to travel this summer, which is one of the reasons prices are skyrocketing. Remember: prices usually drop significantly in August and early fall. So if you can push back your vacation by a month or two, you might be able to salvage it while staying within budget.

Cash: 7 off-the-radar places worth stopping on a California road trip

There’s no guarantee prices will behave this year, but historical trends and the easing of long-stalled travel demand could lead to cheaper prices this fall.

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Sam Kemmis writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @samsambutdif.

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