Americans finally ready to travel as airfare prices peak — 7 tricks to score deals

After a long and at times stressful year, Ilyse Rykus and her husband David are eagerly looking forward to their trip to the Pacific Northwest this August.

The couple are traveling with David’s parents, who take an annual trip to Oregon to visit family in the area — everyone has been vaccinated, offering them all peace of mind. One of David’s uncles died of COVID-19, making the trip even more meaningful.

“We have never joined them, but considering all that has happened this past year we thought being with family was a good move,” Rykus, who lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., said.

But the vacation also represents an opportunity to cut loose — Rykus is turning 30 this summer, and during the trip she will be visiting places she’s never been to before. “My husband and I don’t get to go on many trips together, so when we do we try to make the best out of it,” she said. “It will be exciting to explore with the people I love.”

‘It will be exciting to explore with the people I love.’

— Ilyse Rykus, who lives in West Palm Beach, Fla. with her husband David.

Like many other Americans, Rykus and her husband have been able to save up for their travels, and the couple is planning to use credit-card points they had saved for almost two years to pay for their flights. Family in the hospitality business also helped the couple score deals on hotels.

Tourists from outside the European Union who have been fully vaccinated should be allowed in, ambassadors from the 27-member bloc countries agreed Wednesday. The EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will advise on the list of countries and the requirements.

Research indicates that this will be the summer of “revenge travel.” A recent survey from Charles Schwab

found that traveling was the top item on people’s spending lists, with 40% of people citing it as something they want to dole out cash on. Another 24% of people said they want to go on an extended vacation.

Those findings echo other research showing how eager Americans are to hit the road — or skies. A study released in late April by travel website Skyscanner found that more travelers were booking trips in May and June of this year than in 2019.

Another poll from research firm Ipsos

found that half of Americans planning to travel are looking to go on a road trip, while 40% were planning getaways involving flights.

‘Summer is always the most expensive time of year to travel.’

— Scott Keyes, founder of travel website Scott’s Cheap Flights

Even in a normal year, it’s not always the cheapest to travel during the warmer months. “Summer is always the most expensive time of year to travel because you’ve got nice weather and you’ve got students, teachers and parents with kids in school who can only travel during these times,” said Scott Keyes, founder of travel website Scott’s Cheap Flights.

But this isn’t a normal year. Many people were forced to cancel trips over the past year because of the pandemic, and plenty of them are sitting on travel credits they are itching to use.

Airlines and other travel operators are working to ramp up operations in response to the higher demand, but that takes time. And air carriers will be cautious to bring more planes back into service to offer more flights, just in case the pandemic takes another turn for the worse and travel demand subsides again.

As a result, experts have warned that it could quickly become expensive to travel this summer. The most recent report on consumer prices from the U.S. government showed a record increase in the price of airfare, for instance.

That long-awaited summer vacation doesn’t need to break the bank. Here are tips from financial and travel experts on how to save money on your post-pandemic getaways:

Book sooner rather than later

This may seem obvious, but summer is right around the corner. And while last-minute deals can arise, they aren’t guaranteed. The more time you give yourself to research the prices of hotels, airfare and activities, the more likely you are to snatch up the best possible deal.

“If you wait until Memorial Day to book your summer flights, the odds of being able to get something cheap still then aren’t good at all,” Keyes said. He noted that there are still cheap fares available, such as round-trip flights between the U.S. and Athens, Greece, for $560.

But waiting too long can cost you. If you know where and when you want to go, start to monitor the cost of airfare to that destination so that you can recognize a good deal and scoop it up quickly.

Credit-card points and airline miles could soon lose value

Another reason not to wait: Airline miles and credit-card points could soon lose value. With so many people sitting on unused points and miles from last year, airlines have incentive to reduce how much those are worth, said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at LendingTree

“It’ll likely happen slowly and gradually, but I do think it is likely to happen, so consumers’ best move is to use those points they have sooner rather than later,” Schulz said.

Do your trip planning in reverse

When booking a trip, most people start off by thinking about where they want to go and when, and only begin to consider the price at the end of the decision-making process. Instead, Keyes suggests a reverse approach.

“By setting price as the last priority, it’s not surprising that we end up with some pretty expensive flights,” he said. Instead, he recommends seeing which flights are cheapest out of your local airport, and then figuring out which destination seems the most appealing and then figuring out when you’ll travel.

Websites like Skyscanner

and Google

offer ways of exploring the vast range of options in this manner. Of course, for that strategy to work, people will need to be flexible about when they want to travel.

Take advantage of $0 change fees

Don’t be afraid to change your travel plans if a better deal comes along. In the wake of the pandemic, the vast majority of airlines began waiving flight-change fees so people could amend their travel plans because of the pandemic. Those policies still remain in place with many airlines, so if you see a better price come along, look into whether it will be free to switch. Any savings will be returned to you in a voucher for future travel, Keyes said.

Make the most out of flight vouchers

Nadine Marie Burns, CEO and president of advisory firm A New Path Financial, and her husband had three trips cancelled due to the pandemic. Like many people, they received vouchers for their unused flights. With travel opening up again, Burns began to work on putting together some trips herself.

Eventually she called her airline, Delta
and the customer service agent helped her book a first-class trip to Reno, Nevada, for her and her husband using their e-vouchers and points. “Sometimes there is a mastery about putting the puzzle together when we all seem to have so many different pieces such as e-tickets, points, companion fares and more,” Burns said.

Of course, people need to keep the fine print of any remaining flight vouchers in mind. Many of the vouchers come with an expiration date, said Jordan Staab, president of SmarterTravel Media and Airfarewatchdog. In most cases, travelers need to book their trips by that date, but can travel after it.

Flight vouchers from cancelled trips often carry expiration dates.

“A cool trick we have used successfully is to book a flexible ticket with the voucher and you can change at a future date if needed, so you can maintain control past the expiration date,” Staab said.

Use rewards credit cards wisely

Many people were able to save money throughout the pandemic and pay down their credit-card debt, boosting their credit scores along the way. That could make now a prime time to take advantage of a rewards credit-card.

“The credit card space is incredibly competitive at the moment, and that’s good for consumers looking for deals,” Schulz said. “Issuers know that an explosion of pent-up spending is coming, and they’re offering good deals on new cards in hopes of capturing as much of that spend as possible.”

It’s easy to find big sign-up bonuses for new credit cards, but there’s a risk: Credit cards can cause people to spend beyond their means. Given the high interest rates credit cards carry compared to other loans, it wouldn’t be worth it to try to save money with one if you end up accruing a large amount of debt. Shoppers should aim to pay their balance in full every payment cycle to avoid paying high amounts of interest.

Spending more could actually save you money

Spending a little bit more money on a trip can give you peace of mind should plans change. Remember how airlines are letting people change their flights free of charge? In many cases, that policy doesn’t apply to so-called “basic economy” fares, which are the cheapest tickets you can purchase.

“If you’re booking a couple months out and then traveling internationally, it can often be worth the extra $30 or $40 because that gives you flexibility to be able to change your dates,” Keyes said.

In that same vein, travelers may want to consider investing in travel insurance, particularly for international trips, given that border-entry policies are very much subject to change as the pandemic continues.

“Plenty of credit cards offer at least some form of travel insurance, and that can be helpful,” Schulz said. “However, if you want maximum protection, you should consider paying a little extra for it.”

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Travel news: How to travel cheap and score an Airbnb discount | Travel News | Travel

However, Airbnb and also offers a weekly discount, which could make the difference between a five-day and seven-day long holiday for holidaymakers.

The couple said: “With stuff like booking accommodation, I think, especially as things like Airbnb, they often offer a monthly discount.

“So if you want to go for a month, they’ll ask you to pay the same and you will pay for two weeks. It’s a huge discount.

“You’re basically getting a month’s holiday for two weeks if you’re able to stretch out that long.

READ MORE: Save 51 percent off Bruges Christmas Market day trip from UK – less than £50

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Travel news: How to travel cheap and score an Airbnb discount | Travel News | Travel

The couple detailed how a number of accommodation providers offer discounts for month-long stays, which may be perfect for travellers who are on a longer term nomadic journey.

However, Airbnb and also offers a weekly discount, which could make the difference between a five-day and seven-day long holiday for holidaymakers.

The couple said: “With stuff like booking accommodation, I think, especially as things like Airbnb, they often offer a monthly discount.

“So if you want to go for a month, they’ll ask you to pay the same and you will pay for two weeks. It’s a huge discount.

“You’re basically getting a month’s holiday for two weeks if you’re able to stretch out that long.

READ MORE: Save 51 percent off Bruges Christmas Market day trip from UK – less than £50

Alex said: “I always tell people, if you can rent a car or some form of your own transport because then you get to create your own holiday freedom.

“You can be in another country and not having to rely on buses and stuff.”

They added for nature lovers a rental car is particularly shrewd an investment on holiday.

Emma said: “Especially if you’re into nature, wildlife, anything like that. If you rent your own car you can pick and choose, creating your own day tours.

“It’s an initial investment up front it really reduces what we spend.

“Instead of doing tours you could rent a car and just go to those places on your own and it will cost you half.

“And, you’re not wasting time going to places you’re not interested in on the way to somewhere you are.”

Luckily for the pair, they don’t need to work about renting a car because they created their own ideal campervan for £7,000.

The couple converted a VW T4 into a small campervan and made the leap into vanlife.

Alex said: “We used to say to each other. Just imagine if we had a bed in the back of our car. We just need somewhere to sleep and anything on top of that is a bonus.”

The couple has a double mattress in the van, but have eschewed many mod-cons.

Alex added: “We decided not to go for like a built-in sink or anything like that because he found with other trips we tend to wash up outside anyway. We skipped all the plumbing.”

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How to Score the Best Luxury Hotel Deals: 5 Expert Tips

TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS a night for a hotel room with one king-size bed in Nantucket. More than $4,000 a night for a “Desert View Suite” in Utah. Travelers itching to get back on the road are getting an unwelcome surprise: hotel sticker shock. According to a recent survey from travel booking app Hopper, lodging prices in the U.S. are up 42% from earlier this year, and are likely to rise even more by the winter holidays. “We’ve seen crazy high levels at some leisure destinations,” said Hopper economist Adit Damodaran. Why the spike? “Demand for hotels just skyrocketed overnight” around Memorial Day, explained Andrea Stokes, hospitality practice lead at research firm J.D. Power. Plus, many guests chose to stay stateside this year instead of going abroad. The good news: You can still ferret out bargains or wrangle a discount. We asked a few travel industry insiders for their best booking tips:

Time it right

Hopper advises booking at least 30 days in advance for a hotel in a resort area. But for city center hotels, try the opposite tack: Book less than two weeks from arrival to get last-minute deals when inventory opens up. And look for midweek specials.

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Mbappe or Neymar to score at EVENS plus 50/1 tip

After last night’s appetiser, the Champions League semi-finals offers up a delicious main course as Man City travel to PSG.

Betway have a boost centred around the Parisians’ two main men, where you can back either Neymar or Kylian Mbappe to score at EVENS.

And we have created our own 50/1 bet builder for those who prefer longer odds.

Kevin De Bruyne is part of our mammoth 50/1 tip

AP:Associated Press

Kevin De Bruyne is part of our mammoth 50/1 tip

Pep Guardiola admitted he has been deliberately thinking of anything other than PSG’s superstar double act at night to avoid sleepless nights.

Mbappe scored six goals across the four games against Barcelona and Bayern Munich while Neymar dazzled against the Germans – doing everything except finding the net.

If Mauricio Pochettino’s men are to damage City, it will surely come from one half of European football’s most-rampant partnership.

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We’re pairing Mbappe with City’s brilliant Belgian in terms of goalscorers.

And with a tense end-to-end game expected, we’re expecting both defensive midfielders to be cautioned.

Especially when you think of the attacking talent dotted all over the field, it’s likely they’ll be forced into professional fouls.

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Strategies to score a COVID-19 vaccine appointment: Zip code lists, time zone changes and multiple profiles

If your frustration is mounting, viewers share their best tips and tricks beyond the go-to websites to secure a shot at pharmacies.

Booking an appointment to get a vaccine can be tough. If you’ve tried the popular websites like “Vaccine Spotter” and “Vaccine Hunters” without any luck, there are other more specific tips that might do the trick.

They worked for Andover mom Kassie Mauch and her family. She scored appointments for all four of them this week. 

“It’s out there, you just have to have the time and resources to find it,” said Mauch, who spent most of her time searching online from her dinner table. “It took me about 11 hours over the course of a week and checking multiple sites all day.”

She was mostly focused on finding the Pfizer vaccine for her 16 and 17-year-old daughters who play sports and work in food service. 

“They’re both excited because they feel like it gives them that next sense of freedom,” said Mauch, who also relied on three devices – her iPhone, iPad and a laptop. 

First of all, Mauch says create a list of zip codes and search for appointments using those and not names of cities. There are lists online and you can narrow them down to where you’re willing to travel. 

Second, keep refreshing each website to update the appointment availability, especially at CVS and Walmart. Costco and Thrifty White do it automatically when there are new appointments.

Third, change your clock – especially if you want an appointment through Walmart.

“What I found is if set your device ahead to New York or Eastern Time, the appointments will drop at 11 p.m. Central Time,” said Mauch. “They’re adding these appointments at midnight Eastern Time and if you set your device ahead, you can actually get them right away at 11 p.m.”

Mauch’s fourth tip is to create a user profile with each pharmacy for everyone you’re booking for ahead of time. She didn’t and lost several appointments because of it. 

 “I only had one profile and so, if you don’t have profiles you lose those appointments because they don’t give you enough time to actually fill it out,” explained Mauch.

Filling out the forms online for each profile takes awhile and the site will time out, taking the appointment with it.

Lastly, don’t bother uploading your insurance card. It also takes too much time and it’s not necessary online. But you will need it eventually.

“If you say you don’t have it, then you don’t have to go through extra steps and you won’t lose your spot,” said Mauch. “But if you bring your card when you actually check-in, then it’s fine.”

These are just a handful of hacks that Mauch hopes will help others and keep her own family safe too.

“It’s not just protecting the kids for their day to day life, it’s planning for the future,” said Mauch.

It’s important to note that not everyone has the time or technology to get an appointment like this. You can also get a shot through your health care provider – they should call you to schedule it. There are also appointments available at some county public health departments.

The Minnesota Department of Health is also doing some mobile clinics in targeted communities and it added a ninth mass vaccination site Friday at the old YMCA in Lino Lakes.

MDH also encourages everyone to sign up on the “Vaccine Connector” through the state and register for a vaccine appointment. 

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Arizona vs. UCLA final score: Wildcats unravel in second half for fifth straight loss to Bruins

At halftime of Thursday’s game, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said that Arizona would currently be one of the last few teams in the NCAA Tournament field if it were eligible, adding that a win at UCLA would theoretically go a long way toward ensuring the Wildcats made it.

In reality, though, the UA’s season is nearly over, and this latest result is a strong indication the team is ready to be done.

Arizona (14-8, 8-8 Pac-12) was outscored 44-29 in the second half, allowing UCLA to shoot 73 percent after halftime in a 74-60 win at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, Calif.

It was the fifth consecutive loss against the Bruins (15-5, 11-3) for the UA, which has dropped two in a row and five of seven overall.

James Akinjo had 21 points and Azuolas Tubelis added 18, that duo making 14 of 26 shots. The rest of the Wildcats were 7 of 24, and three of those makes were from Terrell Brown Jr., as starters Bennedict Mathurin, Kerr Kriisa and Christian Koloko only took seven total shots (making three).

Arizona shot 42 percent, was 4 of 16 from 3 and turned it over 16 times, a game after having just five turnovers in the home loss to Oregon. The Wildcats had a 20-9 edge in free throw attempts but missed six, unable to use their propensity to get to the line to their advantage.

Up a point at halftime, Arizona turned it over three times in the first four minutes after giving it away eight times in the first half. That, combined with UCLA making nine of its first 10 shots and going on a 9-0 run, enabled the Bruins to lead 49-39 with 12:04 to go.

Arizona missed seven straight shots before Jordan Brown hit a hook shot with 10:08 to go, and after Akinjo hit a 3 with 6:58 left the Wildcats were only down 55-49.

The Wildcats were within five when Kriisa was called for a travel at midcourt, one of a seemingly endless supply of walks called in the game, and UCLA responded with a Tyger Campbell 3-pointer to make it 58-50 with 5:54 remaining.

Arizona got as close as 58-52 when Akinjo was fouled on a 3 and made 2 of 3 free throws with 5:46 left, but made its next five shots to pull away.

Arizona jumped out to a 10-2 start, a reversal of recent slow starts against Oregon and Colorado, and trailed for only a minute in the first half. The Wildcats started 11 of 19 from the field, with back-to-back 3s by Akinjo and Kriisa gave them a 27-20 edge with 6:59 left.

The UA then went more than five minutes without scoring, allowing UCLA to take a 28-27 lead on a Jaime Jaquez jumper with 2:12 left. Jacquez finished with 25, making 10 of 12 shots.

Tubelis’ tip-in with a minute left, Arizona’s only field goal in the final 6:58, gave it a 31-30 halftime edge.

Arizona will try to avoid another Los Angeles sweep when it visits first-place USC on Saturday. The Trojans won 87-73 in Tucson in January.

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