Most years, waiting until late April to book your summer vacation meant missing out on the best deals. But this spring — thanks to a glut of rentals and un-booked hotel rooms — experts say it’s still possible to score a cheap trip.
U.S. hotel prices are expected to rise 4.7% this year to an average $107 per night, according to Smith Travel Research, but experts say those prices may be offset by better promotions. Thanks to reduced traffic and a slew of new hotels, even popular spots aren’t booked up. Summer favorites such as South Padre Island in Texas and Branson, Mo., still have more than 50% availability for summer rentals, says Jon Gray, the vice president of U.S. business for rental site HomeAway.com. (The site reports overall listings are up 30% compared with last year.) And hotel prices are down in cities such as San Diego, where rates fell 7.4% to $135, and Orlando, which saw a 7% drop to $94, reports Hotels.com.
It’s the cost of travel itself that may limit roaming. Airfares are already up roughly 4% this year, and summer travelers may see even higher prices. Domestic fares for summer flights are up 3% to an average $383, and international fares are up 5% to $880, according to Travelocity. “If you procrastinate, that could be a substantial hit,” says Gabe Saglie, a senior editor for Travelzoo. Gas prices, meanwhile, are hovering at $3.83 per gallon — just four cents shy of last year’s average, reports AAA.