Planning summer travel? The time to book is right now

May 18, 2021, 9:45 PM UTC

As life returns to normal, the wanderlust that has been building in people over the past 15 months is reaching critical levels. But if you’re one of the millions of people planning to resume travel this summer, you’re going to want to book that travel immediately—or face substantially higher prices.

A study by travel site Hopper suggests people book any planned flights before Memorial Day to avoid a price spike. The average airfare is expected to surge 16% between then and July 4, the site says. And by Independence Day, airfares will be back at pre-pandemic levels.

Lodging is about to cost more as well. Nightly hotel prices are already up 11% since March and are expected to increase another 17% by early July to an average of $165 per night. And if you’re planning on getting a rental car wherever you’re going, be aware that demand for rental cars on the site is up 495% since January—and that demand has led to a surge in pricing.

Year to date, rental car prices are up 95%, especially in high-demand cities such as Los Angeles, Orlando, and Las Vegas.

The price of international travel hasn’t exploded quite as much, since so many countries are still not allowing visitors, but the climb is starting. The average rate has increased 8% since mid-March, and airfares to Europe are up 17% since the beginning of May, currently averaging $880 round trip.

While leisure travel is on the rise, business travel is not expected to see substantial increases immediately, as managers have become more comfortable with teleconference meetings. That’s going to put additional pressure on airlines and hotels to make up lost revenue from corporate road warriors, which could result in even higher prices for vacationing consumers.

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