Travelers are cutting back on trips and dining out as fuel prices climb.
Travel spending is down 2.1% year-over-year, while the inflation-adjusted value of airline tickets has declined by $2,088, according to data released last week by the U.S. Travel Association.
That’s as an average price for a gallon of gasoline hit $3.07 on April 17 — the highest level in 10 years, according to AAA.
Many travel agents have seen a bump in business as consumers look for alternative ways to save money on fares. Travelers are booking last-minute tickets, or traveling at off-peak times or low season, and also looking to Uber and Lyft to get to the airport, according to Kristi Oakley, marketing director at Co-Active Travel in Nashville.
“They don’t want to be left out of a local market when their flight’s sold out, and they don’t want to pay the ticket price when the airline service has such a high cancellation rate,” she said.
High gasoline prices have dampened the spring, when visitors travel from colder states to the Gulf Coast for festivals and reunions.
Southwest Airlines announced a few weeks ago that it was offering an additional $5 discount on flights departing and arriving in May to cities in Florida and other areas.
Some tourists have been forced to change the way they plan their summer vacation.
“My family used to go to Vegas, Santa Barbara and Yosemite. This year, we’re going to Hawaii and South Africa,” said Catherine Pelchar, an attorney based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Liz O’Malley, of Buffalo, New York, said that because of the price of gasoline, she decided to forgo her usual four-week trip to Europe, instead flying to Florida for a week. The cost savings will be worth it, she said.
“That was the first thing we did. We hit the gas prices at the gas pump. It is going to change how much we spend,” she said.