If stiff supply chains, soaring inflation, and an ongoing pandemic aren’t enough, Americans have another headache — poor travel experiences.
According to a new study by Bankrate, 79% of U.S. travelers who traveled overnight outside of their local area this year experienced at least one negative travel-related issue.
The report cited high prices (57%), long wait times (29%), poor customer service (27%), hard-to-find availability (26%), losses due to canceled or interrupted plans (14%) , or the most prominent issue for summer travel in 2022 (4%).
The report notes that underlying issues are contributing to a poor consumer travel experience.
For example, most survey participants reported higher than usual costs for transportation, meals and lodging. Not surprisingly, gas prices have risen 49% over the past year, airfares have risen 38%, accommodation away from home has risen 22%, and dining out has risen 7%, according to the latest CPI data.
“While many Americans are happy to travel again after being locked up by the pandemic over the past few years, they face significantly increased costs and long wait times,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.
“As pent-up demand unleashes this summer, things are likely to get worse before they get better. High demand combined with the hottest inflation data in four years and ongoing staffing shortages.”
good news? You don’t have to sit down and deal with many travel-related issues—if you have a game plan in the first place.
“Americans will need to be more flexible and creative than ever when traveling this summer,” said Colleen Carswell, hospitality solutions strategist at Carswell Enterprise in Waynesville, N.C. Travelers should bring The first thing is to have the right expectations. “
This is especially true when rebuilding their belief that “if I give more, I deserve more,” Caswell noted.
“It’s now the exception, not the rule,” she said. “Ultimately, in all aspects of travel, it’s important to adjust your thinking and expectations before hitting the road.”
Take direct action to cut costs and avoid confusion
Taking direct action can reduce costs and resolve travel confusion.
“Start by finding something you can get for free,” says Keri Baugh, a longtime traveler and founder of the blog Bon Voyage With Kids. “For example, look at your credit card reward points to see if they can be redeemed for a gift card for travel (such as a restaurant gift card, Hotels.com gift card, or gas station gift card)”
Also, if you have any hotel or airline related loyalty programs, check to see if you can use them for hotel stays. “On a recent road trip from Boston to Florida, we used my husband’s Marriott (MAR) – Get the Marriott International Report Bonus points for the hotel for two nights on the way, and none of our money was used,” Bao said.
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Airlines are a great opportunity to use your points. “My mother-in-law recently redeemed her airline points for a first-class ticket to visit us, and the whole ticket cost her only $7,” Bao said.
It’s also a good idea to take advantage of useful apps like Gas Buddy for road trips.
“The app can help you find the cheapest gas station near you, which can save you money on the road,” Baugh noted.
“Also, use your own car instead of renting a road trip or driving to your destination instead of flying. While gas is expensive, it will be less than the cost of a flight, especially if the destination is five to six hours away within driving distance. Given the large number of flight delays and cancellations we’ve seen, you’ll likely get to your destination sooner.”
Travelers can also save money by relocating their overnight landing spots.
“We recommend staying in an Airbnb or a hotel with a kitchen/kitchenette (like the Residence Inn by Marriott),” Baugh said. “That way you can at least have breakfast in the room and cook other meals.
If you plan to visit a city, get a city pass.
“Most big cities have passes like this, which give you multiple access to a variety of attractions at a sizable discount (sometimes 40 percent) compared to buying tickets for these admissions separately,” Baugh said.
Also, if you plan to visit multiple national parks this summer, check out the US Parks Pass, which gives you access to most national parks and numerous historic sites in the US for $80.
“Additionally, families of fourth-graders actually have free access to national parks, and the National Park Service has a special program.”
Ask an expert
Finally, ask your local tourist office for planning help.
“While travel agencies can offer you deals, upgrades, VIP perks, and even some bonuses in some places, families can also check out their local tourist office to help save money,” says Baugh.
Baugh is planning her family’s European summer trip, and she finds working with the local tourism board a “great help”.
“By contacting a country’s or city’s tourist office, the tourist office can actually help you plan your itinerary, connect you with local tour companies and events, tell you what’s free, and provide information that can help you craft the vacation you want recommended accommodation. Much lower than the cost of a group tour,” she said.