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Don’t Panic Yet! Summer Travel Will Be Busier and More Expensive. Here’s What to Do

Book now for summer!

From Hawaii to New Zealand, destinations with the toughest COVID-19 restrictions are ready to welcome back tourists. Travelers have taken notice and airlines in the U.S. are celebrating the strong demand. According to an analysis by the Adobe Digital Economy Index, travelers spent $6.6 billion on domestic flights in February 2022, 6% more than February 2019, which is a positive sign for the industry. In fact, Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern predicted in February that the summer of 2022 will be the busiest travel season ever.

Rising fuel costs, inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and new pandemic waves in Europe and Asia are bound to have some impact on the industry. However, the numbers are strong right now. Check out the summer travel trends of 2022 to know where people want to go, what they’re looking for, and how to save big on your travels.

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This Summer's Hottest Destinations

Beach destinations are highly-sought after this summer. Expedia is witnessing a double-digit percent increase in demand compared to three years ago, and Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida are the top contenders. National and state parks remain popular with July as the most expensive month to visit. Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge and Yellowstone are tourist hotspots and demand is shooting up.

Now that countries are lifting restrictions, the European summer dream is also a viable option. Expedia’s analysis notes that compared to February, flight searches to Rome jumped 105% in February, Barcelona shot up by over 50%, London by nearly 80%, and Paris by nearly 70%.

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Hawaii Is a Favorite After Restrictions Were Scrapped

There was a nearly 30% increase in interest for spring and summer travels in Hawaii on Expedia after the restrictions ended on March 26. Travel demand is expected to rise more. As per Expedia, Oahu is already outpacing 2019’s demand and the Big Island has seen a six-time increase in bookings compared to September of 2019.   

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People Are Booking Summer Homes Earlier Than Usual

In popular coastal destinations like Ocean City, New Jersey, and Outer Banks, North Carolina, fewer than 20% of vacation homes are still available to book on Vrbo in July. The company, which is part of Expedia, says bookings have outpaced last summer by 15%. Before the pandemic, the peak time for booking summer vacation homes wasn’t until late April. People are now in a rush to get good deals and first dibs on their choice of homes and amenities.

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But There Are Still Great Deals Online—Here's Where to Find Them

You can find affordable stays in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. For under $200, you can book hotels in Detroit, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, and Kansas City. In May and June, you can beat the crowd and save big on stays in the Upper Midwest and parts of Lake Michigan. National Parks continue to be popular and you can expect them to stay busy another year in a row, but there are affordable stays under $200 on Hotels.com in Boulder, Lake Powell, and Juneau. (Read this before you plan your trip to a National Park.)

Early summer in Nordic countries is also cheaper than in 2019, and you might be able to grab major discounts on hotels in Canada. Hotels.com has deals for $250 per night in Zurich, Copenhagen, and Reykjavik; $245 per night in Toronto, Vancouver, and Niagara Falls; and $225 per night in Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Barcelona.

You must also check Travelzoo and find flexible deals around the world. Keep an eye for deals here and snatch an offer before it gets sold out.

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The Most In-Demand Hotel Amenities Are…

Pools. Hotels.com, which is part of Expedia, analyzed searches from the past three years and pools are the number one amenity people are looking for when booking stays. The other most-searched amenities are free breakfast, kitchens, and free parking.

People don’t want to leave their furry friends behind, so Vrbo also saw a 40% increase in searches for pet-friendly accommodations.

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Smart Ways to Plan and Book

We can’t stress this enough: book flexible, refundable tickets and stays, and don’t skimp on insurance. Cheap options come with strings attached—read the fine print to know if you’ll need to pay more to change or cancel your bookings. Plan for summer as soon as possible. People are already booking stays and tickets, and last-minute deals will be hard to find, Expedia suggests. Compare weekend vs. weekday prices, use price alerts on flights and hotels, and check new rules (for example, Disney theme parks and National Parks require reservations).

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