This Is Why Your Summer Vacation Will Cost More This Year

Eating together is enjoyable.

Aja Koska/istockphoto

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Eating together is enjoyable.
Aja Koska/istockphoto

Travel Unravels

With lockdowns in full force and health concerns a constant companion, 72% of Americans skipped summer vacations in 2020. Change is on the horizon, however, as people look to make up for lost time. More than 47.7 million Americans were expected to travel in early July,  according to AAA, and countries around the world are opening their borders to vaccinated Americans. All this means you can expect to see price increases as demand for travel stretches the capacity to provide it.

Related: The 10 Best Cities for a Summer Staycation — and the 10 Worst

Man refueling the car

Gas Prices Are Higher

Gas prices are the highest they have been since 2014, AAA spokesperson Julie Hall says. With an average cost of more than $3 a gallon in most places, you’ll definitely notice the difference. It’s not just demand raising prices: Some gas stations are still recovering from the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack and subsequent gas shortages across much of the Southeast.

Related: 12 Ways to Fill Up for Less at the Gas Station

Travelers in a train station during pandemic Covid 19

Airfare Is More Expensive

Airfares were one positive spot around Independence Day, declining 2% compared with last year. “But travelers should anticipate prices to increase through the summer, as demand continues to climb as more people get vaccinated and become more and more comfortable flying,” Hall says.

Related: Here's When to Book Airline Tickets for the Cheapest Prices

Airplane traveler wearing N95 face mask receiving luggage from conveyor belt

Baggage Fees Are Up

Although baggage fees may not have gone up, you likely avoided them last summer. Of Americans who traveled in summer 2020, 71% took a road trip instead of flying, according to a Value Penguin survey. Most airlines charge between $30 and $50 for the first checked bag. Don’t forget to add the extra cost of baggage to your overall vacation price tag.

Related: Goodbye, Baggage Fees: 10 Carry-On Tips

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Hotel sign

Hotels Are Raising Prices

Travelers should also prepare to feel the sting on hotel prices. Compared with last year, mid-range hotel rates have increased between 32% and 35% as of this month, with average nightly rates ranging between $156 and $398, Hall says.

Related: What Are the Best Budget Hotel Chains?

Arriving at their holiday destination

Vacation Home Rentals Have Limited Availability

When hotel prices go up, typically vacation rentals do too. Hall says things are no different this year. In fact, vacation rentals might have even higher price tags as people continue to socially distance. Having your own space during a still ongoing pandemic is important to many travelers, but you’ll have to pay for it.

Related: The Most Remote Vacation Rentals Around the World

Inserting car key

Rental Cars Are Scarcer

Chip shortages for many manufacturers have added to a lack of rental cars that began with mid-pandemic sales of auto fleets by rental companies scrambling to make up for lost revenue. The result? Sky-high prices. AAA data shows an 86% increase in rental car costs since last Independence Day. “In some locations, prices top out at $166 per day,” Hall says. If you plan to rent a car this summer, expect to book well in advance and pay a pretty penny anyway.

Related: 24 Tips and Tricks to Save You Money on Car Rental

Lyft Las Vegas Hub. Lyft and Uber have replaced many Taxi cabs with a smart phone app VII
Man inserting a subway pass

Public Transportation Is Pricier

Even public transportation costs are higher this summer. While costs within cities show a rise of just 0.5% in April 2021 compared with last year, travel increases from one city to another are higher: 8.8%. Still, if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, public transportation will be one of the best ways to save.

Related: 18 Cities Where You Can Live Car-Free

Camping life

RV Parks Are Charging More

RVers are feeling the rising costs of park fees, says Georgianne Austin, communications director for the Escapees RV Club. “Anecdotally, remarks from longtime RVers regarding the shrinking number of available campsites and questions from newer RVers wondering how others afford this lifestyle with such high campground costs make it clear that consumers are seeing a shift,” Austin says.

Related: The Best Budget-Friendly RV Campgrounds in Every State

Trailer Home in the mountains

There Are Fewer RVs to Buy

Summer travel often brings to mind dreams of RVing. But if you don’t already own, this is not the best time to buy. Prices are up dramatically in response to massive demand. According to a recent Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association announcement, new vehicles are back-ordered through 2022, Austin says. Thor Industries, which makes many popular RV brands, has seen a 550% increase in orders compared with April 2020.

Related: 18 Reasons You Really Don't Want to Buy an RV

RVing In The Mountains In Class C Motorhome Landscape At Sunset
Cavan Images/istockphoto

Renting RVs Costs More Too

RV rentals are also in high demand. Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, RVshare saw double the number of bookings compared with last year, says Jon Gray, the company’s CEO. And with high demand comes higher pricing. “The most popular models, Class C RVs, are up in price across the country, with 5% to 10% increases compared to last year,” he says. 

Related: RV Rental Company Comparison: Which Is Right for You?

Close up of woman hand with a  Bill With American Dollars which people, payment and finances concept
Sasithorn Phuapankasemsuk/istockphoto

Restaurant Meal Prices Are Up

When you’re on vacation, there are other costs you might not initially think about — rising costs restaurants among them. But you have to eat when you’re on vacation. While 2.5% increases are typical to keep up with inflation, some restaurant owners report raising prices 4% to 5% this year. Many restaurant customers also feel the need to leave more generous tips, given all the troubles of the restaurant industry in 2020. 

Related: Beloved Restaurants and Bars That Closed Permanently This Year

Up and Over

Entertainment Costs More

People turned to outdoor activities that were often free or low-cost in 2020. This year, with theaters, museums, amusement parks, and other entertainment venues opening up, consumers have more opportunities to spend — but a year of lost revenue is likely to cause increased fees to recoup some of the losses.

Related: Beyond the Museum: Spectacular Outdoor Art You Can See for Free

Top view from drone of floating liner

Cruise Spots Are Fewer, and Prices Are Steeper

Throughout 2020, cruise lines were grounded to stop the spread of COVID-19. (Demand was also down, given some nightmarish stories of being trapped on ships as the coronavirus spread.) The first cruises of 2021 are about to set sail, though, with many cruise lines expected to keep operating at limited capacity. That means increased prices. According to Hall of AAA, there is already a demand for cruises as far out as 2022.

Related: 17 Cruise Costs You Might Not See Coming

Straight or budget?

Foreign Transaction Fees Are Back

Travelers across the globe avoided foreign transaction fees last year, but the fees didn’t go away. Most people simply didn’t even have the opportunity to travel internationally and incur them due to global restrictions.

Related: Don't Let These 16 Hidden Fees Catch You By Surprise

Departure board

There May Be Last-Minute Trip Cancellations

The spread of coronavirus continues to be a concern even as more people travel. Variants have wreaked havoc across many destinations, resulting in many country-specific lockdowns — and if you have an overseas or cross-border trip planned, there is always a chance this could affect it. (You might still get sick, too.) Cancellations could result in financial loss if you don’t buy trip insurance.

Related: Your New Air Travel Checklist

Entrance with information sign to national park hiking trails in Albion Basin, Utah summer in Wasatch mountains

National Parks Are Hiking Entrance Fees

Many national park visitors have noticed increasing prices. In April 2018, the Department of the Interior announced a phased approach to price increases at 117 national parks. These price increases began in 2018 and continued through 2020. If it has been a year or two since you’ve been to a national park, you’ll likely see around a $5 increase for most parks.

Related: 19 Money-Saving Tips for Visiting National Parks

Empty Store Shelves with Epidemic Shortages

Supply Chain Issues Keep Popping Up

From computer chips to chicken wings, supply chains are still experiencing pandemic strain. This has led to price increases across a number of industries related to travel in ways that are tough to predict. After all, who would have thought toilet paper would ever run out?

Related: 21 Things We Stopped Taking for Granted During the Pandemic