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MATT GEPHARDT

Gephardt Busts Inflation: How summer travelers are surviving the travel cost increases

Jun 12, 2023, 10:20 PM | Updated: 10:40 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — You might not know it if you traveled over Memorial Day and found yourself stuck in a long line trying to get through airport security. Still, according to a new survey WalletHub shared with the KSL Investigators, 3 in 5 Americans say inflation affects their travel plans.

“Americans are struggling to travel this summer,” said WalletHub’s Jill Gonzalez.

But at the same time, we are seeing record-setting travel numbers.

On June 11, more than 2.7 million passengers went through a TSA checkpoint, surpassing the same day in 2019. AAA estimated 42.3 million Americans traveled at least 50 miles from home over the Memorial Day weekend. That was a 7% jump compared to the year before.

So why is there this seeming disconnect between travel plans disrupted by inflation, but increased traveling?

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Well, WalletHub found people are finding creative ways to make sure they still make it to the beach. Many folks are leaning into their earned airline miles or opening new credit cards that offer big piles of bonus miles for signing up. Others say they would be willing to save up for their vacations by cutting other expenses.

“Forty percent of Americans said that they would forego dining out for a year,” Gonzalez explained. “That doesn’t mean they’re doing it. That doesn’t mean they have to do it. It’s just what people said that they could do maybe to earn that free vacation.”

Nobody likes a cynic, but the reality is more likely that people are going into debt to pay for their summer travel.

One in four travelers surveyed told WalletHub that a good vacation is worth going into debt for. Sixteen percent said they are likely to apply for a new credit card before heading out on their vacations. And one out of five said they would skip a credit card payment over skipping a trip.

All those scenarios, of course, create a more expensive problem when the vacation ends, and travelers wind up paying for it plus interest. Gonzales said that prospect often casts a dark cloud that looms for three out of five travelers while they are trying to enjoy those sunny vacay days.

“A lot of people say that they are thinking about their current credit card bill during their trip, where they’re thinking about what they’ll owe after their trip (while) on their trip,” she said.

And Americans are already holding a record amount of credit card debt of nearly $1 trillion, according to numbers from the Federal Reserve Bank.

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Gephardt Busts Inflation: How summer travelers are surviving the travel cost increases