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If you haven't made plans for Memorial Day, it may be too late

April 06, 2021
4 min read
If you haven't made plans for Memorial Day, it may be too late
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With eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine expanding every day and the weather quickly improving, many Americans are starting to think seriously about booking a summer vacation. For some, it could be their first trip since the onset of the pandemic more than a year ago.

But if you're one of those people, you may find that both availability and deals are exceedingly hard to come by.

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In the last month, airfare search app Hopper saw domestic flight searches for this summer increase 58%, exceeding search interest in 2019.

As a result, Hopper is predicting that domestic airfare will rise in early May, increasing 12% leading into the summer travel season.

So, if you're looking for a deal — particularly to a popular, outdoor-focused destination such as Colorado, Montana, South Carolina, Mexico or the Caribbean — you may be surprised at not only how much prices have increased but also how little availability is left upon arrival.

That's because Americans are finally flying again, but airline schedules were significantly reduced during the pandemic. As a result, the sudden surge in bookings is outstripping the airlines’ reduced supply.

Airlines are adding more flights, but haven't been able to keep up with the accelerated bookings to popular leisure destinations. Flights all across Florida, for example, from the Panhandle to the Keys, are being booked to capacity, simultaneously forcing ticket prices upward.

The cheapest fares, Scott's Cheap Flights pointed out, will likely sell out in the next few weeks. Many may already be gone. Travelers who wait until May to book their Memorial Day getaways or summer vacations will be far less likely to find an inexpensive ticket.

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It's not just expensive fares and limited flight availability travelers need to prepare for. As Americans rush to reclaim their summer vacations, the entire industry could see a groundswell.

GasBuddy, a travel and navigation app designed to help drivers save money when they fuel up, recently found that weekly gasoline demand had reached a new pandemic high at the end of March. And gas prices are rising commensurately, with the national average now at $2.872 per gallon — the highest it's been since gas prices peaked in the summer of 2019.

And for travelers who are envisioning a relaxing road trip in a rental car, those dreams could be dashed by the "car rental apocalypse."

Jonathan Weinberg, the CEO and cofounder of Autoslash (a company that helps travelers find rental car deals), told TPG earlier this month that a vehicle shortage caused by reduced inventory and increasing demand could make it next to impossible to rent a car in desirable tourist destinations, such as Hawaii, during peak summer travel dates.

Even if you can secure a car rental, you can expect to pay a premium for the privilege. Weinberg said Autoslash has seen a 300% increase in rental car pricing in destinations such as Arizona, Hawaii and Florida. Nationwide, Weinberg estimates that rental prices have risen by about 30%.

That's not to say it's impossible to find travel deals. Many hotels and resorts — particularly in urban areas — are still incentivizing travelers with value-added promotions and discounted stays.

Travelers will continue to find better deals on international flights, where ticket prices could be "historically low," but even domestic airfares are still depressed when compared to 2019.

But depending on where you're headed and how you're planning to get there, many travelers may be surprised to find that the promise of pandemic-era deals and wide-open availability has evaporated faster than wet footprints around a swimming pool.

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh and Ben Mutzabaugh.

Featured image by (Photo by 9_fingers_/Twenty20)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023