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Sorry, Travel Is Not Getting Any Cheaper

by joeheg

While you’re sitting at home and dreaming about travel, it makes sense that you’d spend some time looking at how much those trips will cost. While dream trips used to mean crossing something big off of your bucket list, now it could be as simple as taking a road trip to nearby attractions.

With the travel industry put into an self-imposed hibernation, you’d think that prices have dropped dramatically. That’s true if you’re traveling now, when many are subject to quarantine when they get to locations or when they return. But if you’re planning travel for the future, like when you’d think it’s going to be OK to go on a vacation, don’t expect super low prices for airfare, rental cars or hotels.

I have vacation time from work blocked for mid-August. This would normally be our second trip to Texas of the summer to visit Schlitterbahn. Our first trip was scheduled for mid-June but considering that’s only five weeks from now, that trip definitely isn’t happening. Up until a month or so ago, I was giving the second trip a reasonable chance of happening. Restrictions have loosened in Texas but Schlitterbahn hasn’t opened for the season and who knows when they will or what will be open. After all, how do you socially distance at a waterpark?

But what if?  Can’t hurt to dream, can it? What if things start getting better and I was optimistic that in three months we’ll be getting close to normal. Maybe I’d like to lock in some plans while prices are low.

Great plan but prices aren’t that low compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. At least not for the trip we want to take.


The only set of non-stop flights from Orlando to Austin on JetBlue have horrible times. Prices are much higher than when I looked at the end of March and the same flights cost $175.

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Southwest’s prices are a bit better, around $190 round trip.

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If you add in the $20 each way for Early-Bird check in, that’s $227.

In 2019, we split the flight between Frontier (paying for The Works) and Southwest and it cost us $260 per person. We’d be paying $30 less per person. Not a huge savings when you consider that the airlines just got a huge bailout and are strapped for cash.


By far, the nicest hotel in the area is the Courtyard New Braunfels River Village. It is located right on the river and this is the view.


It’s one of the most expensive hotels and a category 5 Marriott Bonvoy property. You could use a free night certificate from a Marriott co-brand card, but they’re still pricing weekend nights in August at peak, meaning 40K a night and NOT bookable with the certificate.

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Anyone else think it’s weird that the peak nights are cheaper than the base award nights during the week? You’re still looking at $900 for four nights or 300,000 points.

What about our usual place, the Candlewood Suites?

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$650 for four nights. Last year we paid $467 but back in 2017 we paid $718. Since prices fluctuate I can’t be sure if this is on the low or high side. Paying with points would cost the same, 20K IHG points a night, which is a great value considering you can buy them for 0.5 cents each. However, it’s definitely not a huge discount over what you were paying before.

Rental Car

OK, so if airfare is a little cheaper and hotels are the same or a little more expensive, what about a rental car? There has to be a glut of cars that aren’t being rented.

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I did a really quick search on Kayak, which is how I usually get a baseline price for car rentals. $239 for four nights. Considering last year our starting rate when we booked was $329 but by the time of our rental, Autoslash had reduced the price to $149. Who knows what the price would be by the time of our trip but I’m confident the price wouldn’t be much lower than that for the trip.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. My very unscientific, single data point look at travel prices for the end of the summer. The results may be skewed because there might be high demand for a local destination opposed to somewhere you need to travel a far way to get to.

It could be because Texas is a more desirable location than New York or California.

I don’t have the answer. All I can say is that it would be wrong to assume that travel prices will drop because of the coronavirus pandemic. We might not be sure if we’ll be traveling but the travel companies are setting prices like we’re going to be.

#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Christian May 11, 2020 - 7:05 pm

Nice post. No bargains at all, which is really puzzling. I can only suppose that they expect to be packed and have priced accordingly. The places I’ve looked into for August or October have likewise priced high except for flights on American to Montego Bay, which started at 10k miles each way.


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