Why Your Holiday Travels Might Cost More This Year

Two people wearing backpacks and warm hats while walking through a town square decorated with string lights.

Image source: Getty Images

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Traveling during the holidays is rarely cheap. But this year, it might cost more than you expect.

If you're gearing up to travel for the holidays, you may be in for massive sticker shock. Airlines, hotels, and rental car companies commonly jack up their prices in the holiday peak. But this year, some of those costs are already on the rise as part of the general bout of inflation that's plagued consumers since the spring.

According to recent data from the Labor Department, the cost of rental cars is up a whopping 42.9%. Meanwhile, hotels are up 18%.

The one bright spot is that airfares dropped 6.4% in September as other travel costs rose. But that decline may be short-lived, since holiday pricing could rear its ugly head in late November and December.

How to cope with higher travel costs

The better you prepare for increased holiday travel costs, the less likely you are to wind up in debt this season. First, start saving for your upcoming trips now. Look at your budget and identify a few spending categories to cut back on. Dining out less frequently, for example, could make it so that you're not left in the red if the car you rent later this year costs you $100 more than you anticipated.

Another good bet is to get yourself a side hustle. If you're able to take on a gig on top of your main job, you can sock away your earnings for holiday spending. That might come in handy not only for travel costs, but also for gifts and other expenses and obligations. And since many businesses need extra help leading up to the holidays, finding a side job may be easier than you think.

Finally, take a look at your credit cards and see what reward programs they currently offer. If you don't get a lot of cash back for hotel stays, rental cars, and flights, consider applying for a new credit card that will reward you more generously for these purchases.

Furthermore, if you expect to fly to your holiday destination, having a travel rewards card could help you reap additional benefits and savings. Many of these cards are loaded with perks that can make your travels less expensive, like free checked bags.

Book your plans early

As the holidays get closer, the availability of flights, rental cars, and hotel rooms is likely to decrease. As a result, now's a good time to consider booking your plans. Most hotels offer fairly flexible cancellation policies, so if you book a room now and prices go down next month, you can most likely cancel without penalty. Airlines are far less flexible, though, so be sure to do your research before booking a flight.

Traveling for the holidays could mean spending more than you bargained for. The more you prepare now, the more you'll be able to enjoy the holidays without landing in debt.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2024

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2024, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

Our Research Expert