How to plan your summer trip in 2024

28 April 2024
How to plan your summer trip in 2024

Ahhh, summer. That glorious time in the US between Memorial Day and Labor Day when school is (mostly) out and temperatures are warm. This year’s summer travel season will look a lot like what you remember before the pandemic.

So, have you started planning your summer trip yet? Better get started – here’s why:

  • Across the industry summer travel bookings are way up
  • Inflation and unemployment are low
  • Interest in travel is high – as much as 40% higher than pre-pandemic levels

Those aren’t the only things that are high too – prices are kinda high too:

  • Airfares are generally higher, domestically and internationally (with lots of demand, there’s less competition)
  • Car rentals are higher too – now that the rental car shortage has gone away and people are traveling more, rental car prices are higher domestically and internationally
  • Hotel prices are up in the US but lower elsewhere

I know that a lot of people are saying that airfares are lower, and they can be if you’re booked already, but I’m not seeing lower prices play out right now. They may fall based on booking levels, but right now, I’m not seeing it.

Waiting summer traveler gif

What to avoid

If you don’t want to spend a fortune and still travel this summer, here’s a list of things to avoid:

  1. Skip the popular destinations as predicted by Google flights
  2. Skip Paris unless you already have tickets and reservations for the summer Olympics
  3. Not kidding – check Taylor Swift’s concert schedule if you want to avoid the crowds at home and abroad
  4. Skip central Italy in July unless you want to be involved in the Tour de France (Florence to Nice)
  5. August in Europe – half the country takes their (much longer) summer trips that month
  6. Waiting

The best way to ensure you have access to affordable summer trip options is to start early (like now).

Embrace alternatives

There are so many ways to get creative about your summer travel plans. This is definitely the year to embrace alternatives like the following:

  1. If you find the destination on your favorites list is booked up, use power searches to find alternatives like this: “summer 2024 travel alternatives to Paris, France”. You’ll get a list of places that have features similar to Paris but without the crowds.
  2. Book in reverse order – get your car rental and lodging, then find airfare. Just make sure you carefully keep track of your cancellation dates in case you can’t find airfare.
  3. If you find hotels are booked up where you want to go, consider alternatives like VRBO and Airbnb (see the pro tip video below to get the best possible prices).
  4. Skip hotels and vacation rentals and opt for houseboats or camping instead.
  5. Avoid the hassle and expense of a rental care entirely and opt to bike on your vacation instead (Paris recently crossed a milestone where cyclists now outnumber drivers). Many hotels now offer free bike rentals too!
  6. Stay close to home for the summer trip with the kids and book your more expensive solo or couple trip in the shoulder season (hint: Hawaii is cheap in September to mid-October).

Pro tip: Watch out for words like eclectic, cozy, and urban oasis in your vacation rentals – those are warning signs not creative writing.

One of the more recent travel trends, which is definitely being embraced by remote workers, is the Quietude Vacation. For people who find the normal world they live in to be too busy and noisy, many are escaping to quiet lake cabins, small towns, and rural villages. Some travelers are craving the quiet, unplugged, minimalist, and gently active trips these days – that may also appeal to you.

Don’t forget the US holidays

Memorial Day is the official start of summer and Labor Day is the official end of summer, although most schools don’t let students free until June.

The big summer holidays in the US also mean lots of travelers hitting the road and attractions:

  • Memorial Day – Monday, May 27, 2024
  • Juneteenth – Wednesday, June 19, 2024
  • Fourth of July – Thursday, July 4, 2024
  • Labor Day – Monday, September 2, 2024

Plan for cancellations

A new trend that’s on the rise is sales cancellations, specifically of vacation rental homes. 

This happens when the owner of the rental home, for whatever reason, decides to sell the property even though there are booked reservations. 

There are a number of reasons this can happen. One is when the owner passes on and those inheriting the property decide to sell it rather than keep it. Another is through a divorce when the person who receives ownership of the property decides to sell it.

Either way, it’s something to plan for, and here’s how to do that:

  • If you have the property address, check whether it’s for sale in Zillow.com or Realtor.com.
  • When you’re researching properties, keep your list of viable options handy just in case and carefully review the terms so you know what your rights are in case of an unexpected cancellation.
  • Consider booking secondary reservations as a backup – just don’t forget to cancel one before the final cancellation date
  • Make a personal connection with the property owner. It may not work all the time, but if they know a little about your plans for the trip, they may be less likely to suddenly cancel without giving you some notice.
  • Always book with a credit card. If the owner flakes and leaves you without a place to stay, you can dispute the charges and get your money back.

If you booked through a more established vacation rental site like VRBO and Airbnb, you may be offered a full refund or alternative lodging. They may cover the cost difference, so be sure to ask.

Pro tip: Some travel insurance plans provide reimbursement for situations where your lodging is destroyed or unavailable when you arrive. 

And finally – the coolest vacation rental hack I’ve seen in years.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.