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Your July 4 trip may be more costly than you thought

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By Elisabeth Buchwald

Some 48 million Americans are hopping on trains, planes and automobiles over the July 4 weekend. Most, it seems, will be traveling by road.

That’s a nearly 40% jump from last year when 34 million Americans visited family on the federal holiday during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, many against the advice of health professionals, according to data from AAA.

Still, the expected number of travelers is trailing below 2019 when some 49 million Americans, a record-high, traveled over the holiday.

The resurgence in travel comes as more than half of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Americans are confronting 13-year record high levels of inflation

Americans are confronting 13-year record high levels of inflation

People paid 5% more overall for goods and services last month compared to May 2020, according to data from the latest Consumer Price Index.

Travelers are fully aware of the record gas prices and are “likely to look for more free activities or eat out less, but still take their vacations as planned,” said Jeanette McGee, a AAA spokesperson.

Rental cars, used cars and airfare  saw the highest jump in prices last month  compared to April, costing 12.1%, 7.3% and 7% more, respectively.

Daily car rental rates this Independence Day are 86% higher compared to the same period last year, topping out at $166, according to AAA.

The rise in rates is being driven by the global chip shortage — making it more expensive for rental car companies such as Hertz and Avis /zigman2/quotes/203618115/composite CAR -13.78% to purchase more vehicles to meet growing demand.

That’s also enabled some Americans to make tidy profits off selling their used cars .

And if you’re thinking you might catch a break on hotels, think again.

Mid-range hotel rates are set to cost between $156 and $398 a night on average — that’s over 30% more than what consumers paid for hotels last year, according to AAA.

Many people still  express reluctance about flying  due to the high fares, lack of direct routes to many locations and the threat of COVID-19 variants.

In May, Americans spent over $5 billion on domestic flights, according to Adobe Analytics ADBE, 0.26% . But that’s down 4% on the month, and down 20% from May 2019. (Most Americans stayed home in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic.)

In the meantime, some people have come up with some creative solutions to at least some of these problems related to road travel.

Over Memorial Day weekend,  one traveler MarketWatch spoke to  ended up renting a U-Haul  /zigman2/quotes/204659063/composite UHAL -0.75%  truck instead of a rental car to venture through Maui as a result of the rental car shortage.

The traveler, Matt Landau, said he saw daily rates for a normal sedan between $400 and $500, “if you could even get one — most were sold out.” He paid approximately $100 daily rate, plus mileage and gas.

US : U.S.: Nasdaq
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US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 585.86
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Volume: 19,098
Aug. 4, 2021 2:53p
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