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Revenge travel makes finding a cheap vacation more difficult

Being flexible on departure points for air travel and dates can lower costs
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 11:23 AM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Revenge travel is driving travel numbers and prices up to levels not seen since before the coronavirus pandemic locked down much of the United States.

That means it’s harder to find summer vacation bargains. Travelers can expect to pay more for rental cars, gasoline and hotels. Flights also are harder to come by.

But travelers who can be flexible with their dates and destinations can still find some post-pandemic deals.

Americans can’t wait to get far far away from Zoom calls, restrictions and mask mandates to enjoy sunshine, beaches, tiki huts and umbrella drinks instead. Revenge travel has people packing suitcases and airports to get back at a pandemic that had them cooped up for the past year.

“Revenge travel is, you are angry because you were cooped up for that long and want to get out there and do it. You are tired of sitting at home,” said Eric McBean of M&M Travel Agency & Tours.

Janice Halleck is packing for her first post pandemic trip after COVID-19 forced her to cancel a plan to travel from Flint to see her granddaughter Deseree, who was studying abroad in Ireland.

“My granddaughter just graduated college. I told her when she did we’d take a cruise,” Halleck said. “Cruise is out. We decided we’d do a destination were something to open.”

They called McBean to help them land the best post-pandemic deal. He recommends being flexible with flight plans and destinations. By making airline price a priority, travelers can bring down the price of the trip.

McBean said Cancun and Jamaica remain popular destinations, but travelers should look at the difference in air travel prices from different departure cities.

A flight leaving Detroit for a Saturday to Saturday trip in Cancun is $387, but leaving from Flint will cost $58 more at $445. That added cost can add up quickly for a family -- $232 more for a family of four.

However, parking at Detroit Metro Airport costs about $26 per day, which will add $182 for a weeklong trip. Parking at Bishop International Airport in Flint costs less than half as much at $10 per day or $70 for a full week.

Instead of flying from Saginaw County, travelers could save significantly by driving to airports in Flint or Detroit, because summer flights to Cancun from MBS International Airport were listed at over $1,000.

Leaving on a Monday could reduce prices even more. A Monday flight from Detroit to Cancun costs just $283.

Halleck and her granddaughter chose Cancun, where they can spend a lot of time relaxing outdoors on the beach

“We love the water,” Halleck said. “Gonna be warm. All inclusive package.”

Travelers looking for a package with flights, lodging, meals and drinks all included won’t find the rock bottom deals available during the height of the pandemic. Five nights and six days in Cancun at Catalonia Playa Maroma costs $2,505.51 flying American Airlines out of Flint.

The same vacation costs about $800 less flying Spirit Airlines out of Detroit.

Many travelers are playing it safe and staying in the U.S.

“Normally, I book Jamaica and cruises,” McBean said. “This year, my hotspot was Vegas. They wanted to stay domestic -- not wanting international travel. Not feeling comfortable.”

He’s also booking a lot of Pure Michigan trips to Mackinac and popular in-state destinations this year.

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but the cost of getting there also depends on the departure point. Leaving from Detroit or even driving to Chicago to fly out could shave hundreds of dollars off airfare.

A July flight to Las Vegas from Detroit costs $136, but it’s $131 from Chicago. Leaving from Flint for the same Saturday to Saturday trip adds up to $434 and a ticket from MBS International Airport to Las Vegas is $377.

Airlines are adding flights to keep up with demand, so sudden price drops are possible. Setting price alerts on booking engines like Google Flights can help travelers track costs and grab a deal to escape this summer.

Also, cruises are starting to set sail once again, but strong demand and limited capacity mean prices are high this summer. Expect prices to drop when more vessels set sail this fall.

Anyone planning a road trip -- especially if they want to rent a car -- should plan ahead. Car rental companies sold off much their fleets when the coronavirus pandemic hit, but demand is back now while the number of available cars is not.

In high traffic areas like Hawaii, the rental car situation has gotten so bad that people are renting U-Haul trucks and vans just to get around. In Michigan, renting a full size SUV for a week in July will cost $800 to $1,800, which is about double the cost from before the pandemic.

Anyone who wants to take a trip should act fast to land what few deals are out there. For Halleck and her granddaughter, their trip to Cancun is a chance to celebrate Deseree’s graduation and make up for lost time.

“We are ready,” Halleck said. “I do like a trip a year. It’s been a year waiting.”

With guidance from McBean, they feel they’ve prepared for everything possible. They hope thoughts of COVID-19 will be far, far away and their biggest concern will be whether they wore enough sunscreen once they arrive and have their toes in the sand.

“We’re never gonna be completely comfortable, but we’re not gonna stay home either,” Halleck said.

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