In the seasonal surge to the skies and roads, spring break promises a recharge — and a financial pinch. That’s especially true this year, when flight prices are up 20 percent compared with last March and April, according to the travel booking app Hopper, and hotels in the United States are averaging $316 a night, up 64 percent in the same time frame.
Naturally, even eager travelers are nervous. A recent study from the nonprofit Family Travel Association found that while families are keen to travel — 85 percent of parents said they were very likely to travel with their children in the next year, compared with about 70 percent in 2019 — budget concerns are top of mind.
“Affordability has always been the No. 1 challenge for families,” said Peter Bopp, the director of research for the association, adding that the pandemic’s effect on family finances and inflation have heightened that concern.
“Everything is higher,” said Lauren Masarik, a travel agent based in Jackson, N.J., who runs Vacations by Lauren.
To help families stretch their vacation budgets, agents, analysts and bloggers offered the following 12 tips for saving money.
1. Budget for travel
Conscientious spending allowed Antonia Grant, a Minnesota-based publicist and writer for the blog Families Love Travel, her husband and 8-year-old to spend a month in Italy last summer. They are planning a similar trip to Scotland this year.
“After our mortgage and groceries, travel is our third budget item,” said Ms. Grant, who sets aside roughly 20 percent of the household’s budget for travel. She added that the family has one car and “not the best car or biggest house” because “travel is what we prioritize.”
2. Start with flights
Flights are often the biggest travel expense, so experts suggest tackling them first.
“A lot of time, instead of saying, ‘I’m going to Paris,’ I’ll start with the flight,” said Colleen Lanin, the founder of the family travel blog Travel Mamas.
She has a $49-a-year membership with Going (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights) that alerts her to inexpensive flights from her selected airports. Based on a sale notification several years ago, her family went to China for $450 a person, round-trip from Phoenix.
“I set up price alerts when I get the school calendar,” said Kate Williams, the chief communications officer for the travel search platform Kayak and the mother of three boys, referring to a Kayak tracking tool that notifies users when prices…
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