Why I May Boycott Summer Travel & Why I Think I Am Not Alone

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Boycott Summer Travel

Boycott Summer Travel

There is no doubt that we are currently living in a weird world, a twilight zone so to speak. Things still have not returned to pre-pandemic ways, even as restrictions melt away and we move to an endemic train of thought. At this point, I am not sure that they ever get back to the “good old days” anyway. One thing that has suffered most, in my opinion, is travel. The travel experience is nowhere near what it was, whether we are talking about the process of getting there, the cost, the cleanliness of your room or even the experience when your boots hit the ground. That is a truth, a reality; one that we need to accept and our expectations need to be altered as well. I believe that all of this is going to reach a boiling point over the next few months though and many people are not going to be properly prepared. It is why I am thinking I may boycott summer travel. I just don’t think the juice will be worth the squeeze, and I don’t think I am alone either.

Summer Travel Is Next Level

Summer travel is always a bit chaotic. So many travelers are beholden to their kid’s school calendar and this is the time of year they can have a little free reign while scheduling travel. No more squeezing a trip into a 3 or 4 day bank holiday weekend etc. Parents can schedule a week here or there instead of the rushed approach.

Even people without kids often prefer to travel in the summer months, when the weather is the best. My wife and I used to take a trip or two every summer even before kids, or miles and points for that matter.

All of this adds up to an influx of travelers you usually only see around the holidays, or spring break, the two times I normally avoid travel at all costs. A good chunk of the people during these busy times are infrequent travelers that are walking around with stress levels through the roof. Because of that they are ready to pop off at any slight convivence. Be ready for a Karen and Ken explosion over the next 3-4 months! That would be fine and all besides the fact that we naturally get hit with the fallout from that blast too.

Boycott Summer Travel

This Summer Will Be Even Worse

So summer is already a crazy time to be on the road but I think this summer is the one summer to rule them all. (Catch the nerdy Lord of the Rings reference there?)

Airlines are still woefully understaffed. An issue they brought somewhat on themselves for cutting staff too deeply. That isn’t the full story though. The pandemic also halted the pipeline for new hires and had a lot of people retire a bit early.  That equates to a problem that won’t be solved for YEARS. We have seen what kind of chaos this has led to during other peak times. Think of all of the cancellations and flight changes we saw during the holidays, and over the last month during spring break. It will only get worse this summer! Airlines are so money hungry that they continue to put out schedules they know they will never be able to handle with their staffing levels. Even attempting it puts huge amounts of stress on the pilots, flight attendants, grounds crew and gate agents etc. They have just about had it, which creates an adversarial interaction with their customers.

Even if you get through the airport unscathed the experience on the ground is going to show warts too. The hotel will likely have staffing issues, even when many will be booked to capacity. This will lead to slow service, dirty rooms / public areas and not the smooth process you have become accustomed to. Then once in the area you will notice the same type of issues at local attractions and restaurants. It will require tons of patience on everyone’s part this summer.

Prices Are Making Matters Worse & Points Don’t Help Like They Once Did

Having said all of this, you know what really will send people into berserker mode? The fact that they had to sell their first born to be able to make the trip in the first place. Prices are absolutely INSANE! I have seen 90 minute flights going to $600 and hotels up to $1000 a night, things that would have been under $200-$300 each just a few years ago.

So, you are telling me the experience isn’t going to be like it was AND you have to pay double? That is going to end well, isn’t it?

The sad truth is miles and points don’t come to the rescue quite like they have in the past either. Before, if the price skyrocketed we were all like, cool, that just means a better cents per point redemption for me. The problem is most programs have gone fully dynamic, added new expensive tiers, or at a minimum added peak and non peak pricing. That means that even with points you are likely going to be paying 25%+ more than you would have a few years ago. As redemptions become more and more tied to the cash rate the cost in points will increase when the cash prices do.

How Are People Affording This Craziness?

Quick aside, what family can even afford these prices without miles and points? I couldn’t even imagine paying $5,000 out of pocket simply to go to Florida’s west coast. I know there is a huge pent up demand for travel after the last few years, and vacation savings are bulging because of it, but the value is just not there anymore. When you pay a king’s ransom you expect a king’s reward. That has always been the joke about Disney, it is like paying for a used card, but at least the experience usually delivers for people. Is that $400 Spirit flight and $500 Hampton Inn two blocks from the beach gonna deliver though? People are going to be left feeling cheated all summer long.

Boycott Summer Travel

Boycott Summer Travel – Final Thoughts

All of this, the prices, the watered down experience, the insanity of the less traveled and the headache of managing the constant schedule changes, has me thinking I’m gonna boycott summer travel. I have never been a huge summer traveler because of the crowds, I love living in the shoulder seasons, but my summer travels this year may be more sparse than any in the past.

Currently I have a trip with the family planned at the end of June to head back to Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. But, that is about it until our MtM Diamond meet up in September in Mexico City. I had planned taking a trip with my son again in early June, like we did with Alaska last year, but even that is getting punted until the fall. The prices are a bit more reasonable then and hopefully the crowds are settled down at that point. I am sure I will mix a quick trip in there somewhere during the peak summer season, but I am not going to jam pack the schedule like I will for the fall and winter.

I suspect I am not alone in this thinking. From what I have heard from friends and read in Facebook groups and on Twitter etc. I think many people are going to slow down a bit over the next few months. Hey, sometimes a break is needed anyway. There is no shame in that!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Are you going full steam ahead this summer or will you be boycotting summer travel a bit this year?

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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27 COMMENTS

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27 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not going to use air travel this spring or summer. Instead, I’m heading out on a 2 week drive vacation in 3 weeks, something my wife and I did and enjoyed in 2019. Our destinations are Roanoke, Gatlinburg and Cleveland to see friends and attending a 3 day music festival. We both have places we want to see while we head to each destination. When we get near the end of the day, we reserve our hotel using points. I have a huge stash of points in all the hotel programs, so I’m going to do some serious point burning before they become less valuable. By choosing to travel during this time of year, we should avoid a lot of the crowds and higher point requirements.
    I live in a major destination state for summer vacation travel and avoid Bar Harbor and points south like the plague and like you Mark, prefer traveling in the fall when kids go back to school, the crowds dissipate and prices become more reasonable. We might even entertain a trip to Germany and Austria should sanity return to air travel and a relaxation in the requirements needed to gain entry to these countries.
    As Lord Fauci mentioned today, the pandemic is over and, for us at least, it’s time to travel again as inexpensively as is possible.

  2. Summer is always difficult with demand that exceeds supply. Multiply that with stresses of the pandemic, short and inexperienced staff, it is recipe for disaster. People, who before might’ve held their temper will explode as the see their holidays implode. Avoid the summer or steel yourselves for the fallout.

  3. I am glad I am not the only one ! I am that person who has to use the summer months to travel because of school going kids . We do have a trip early summer to Belize but nothing apart from that which is unusual for us. I booked that United business class points deal to Bangkok and Singapore for late summer. However, after thinking about it more, the inconvenience of the endless COVID tests and the uncertainty of getting stuck in one leg or another with five started making it all not so appealing so cancelled.

  4. I don’t really care about the points cost (within reason) but yeah, we’ve cancelled 2 planned trips already booked for this summer. The service industry is in a negative feedback loop where high prices and understaffing are leading to pissed off customers who take it out on the underpaid service industry workers who are in high demand, and find employment elsewhere, leading to higher prices and understaffing. Rinse and repeat. It’s the perfect storm of high fuel and food prices, a dearth of workers, corporate greed and a huge segment of the population that seems both simultaneously entitled and has forgotten how to behave in polite society. No one wants to stand behind the Marriott check-in desk to be berated by Karen & Chad for whatever reason. Karen & Chad want to yell at someone because reasons. We all suffer.

  5. Jay you obviously didn’t read the article and dont get the point he is trying to make. Suggest you do so before you run your mouth. His points are right on and are based in reality.

  6. Life is too short to wait! And planning ahead (and not waiting) can often pay off. I purchased this July’s SEA-CDG-VIE business class on Air France last summer for 53K miles and $242; and our return HEL-SEA-PDX business class on Finn Air using 57.5K AA miles and $40. COVID didn’t scare us to wait last summer. We were in France at the end of June, two weeks after travel restrictions came down but bought tickets the summer before and hoped for the best. We had an amazing three weeks in France and Italy. No waiting and fear for me! And thankfully, have never had COVID.

  7. I am using the money I am saving by not traveling, prepping my pantry so that when the fall rolls around and inflation is above double digits, store shelves are bare, and gas is affordable only for emergencies, I shall sit in my Garden which I will have faithfully tended all summer sipping on mint juleps while fertilizing my mint plants.I grew up learning how to switch to plan B without batting an eye. My governor has defeated the mouse thank GOD

  8. Life is too short. What if summer turned out to be your last summer. No guarantees as we’ve seen over the last few years. Be a shame to waste time away for some bucks.

    • I am just shifting the travel to fall and winter instead but I can always get behind some YOLO sentiment.

  9. You are doing the right thing. The only way to reverse the ridiculous airfares and hotel prices is to stop feeding the inflation beast and vote with your wallet. corporations are getting hungry and there is revenge travel supply to negate the losses from the 2020 -2021 Covid slowdown period.

  10. Welcome to the new economy. Super high inflation from poor fiscal policies + high oil prices that affect most other sectors due to poor energy policy + high demand from pent-up demand with limited school year travel options + dynamic pricing to most award systems have gotten us to this place. Even simple travel to nearby places for work by car ends up costing too much. Hotels have doubled in price even outside resort areas. I’m currently planning 2023 awards and mostly giving up on 2022 for award travel. I was forced into making a booking on Southwest for May for a family issue that came up and paid about $400 one way and 45k in points the other direction for a STL-JAX flight. Crazy.

    • Close in domestic prices are at levels I have never seen before for sure. Searching for anything in the near future is disheartening so I can’t blame you for punting until 2023.

  11. I’d hate to pass up another summer (it’s been 2 already) without any travel plans. I can’t spend my life in a perpetual state of waiting (waiting for the “all clear” or the “return to normal”). I have no idea if next year’s travel costs will be better or worse. I’ll keep my travel plans simple by trying to avoid complex flight itineraries and go someplace where I won’t need an exorbitantly priced rental car. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Life is made of memories and, sadly, I can’t say I have anything to remember of the past 2 years.

    • I totally get that feeling as well and I think a lot of people are right there in the boat with you. For many this is the first full season of travel in 2 years and they are gonna take advantage no doubt.

  12. Southwest flights that were 26,000 miles are now 50,000 and up. We have the card, but even high grocery prices aren’t getting us those kind of miles. Restaurants are higher everywhere. We have two trips scheduled and one more to plan but 2023 may be less travel for us. The governor is battling the mouse and that isn’t helping anyone in our area either.

    • Domestic flight prices (even awards) are insane right now for sure. The cents per point value may be the same with inflated cash prices but it is costing a lot more to book the same flights.

  13. You’re running a blog about points and miles, and yet is complaining about cash prices?

    Do you guys needs a vacation, or maybe just a break from the blog? Seems there’s been a lot of whiny articles lately.

    • Is having a discussion about the reality of things complaining? Having readers take a realistic look at what travel could be like this summer. And I talked about miles and points prices being sky high as well. Only person I see complaining is you Jay.

      • Yes. I appreciate the article and this thread. This is how we learn about the travel industry- the ups and the downs, the ins and the outs of travel during these times and the challenges we face. Information to help us make informative choices.
        I would love to attend the meetup in Mexico City, but unfortunately we have had too many friends get bad results from covid tests getting back to the USA only to put into expensive quarintines in Mexico.

        • That is a big fear in all travel these days for sure. Getting stranded and having to spend a ton of money until you are cleared to travel. Weird times we are in!

  14. FIRST rule of thumb for travel over the next few months, (at least!) is to LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

    Travel is a mess, as you say. People are stressed on ALL sides of the equation.

    Tell yourself you’re gonna have a good time, skip worrying about little things and enjoy the overall experience of simply being somewhere you want to be.

  15. The pandemic is not over. Just being weary of masks does not mean the pandemic is over.

    The last place to resume travel will be to third world countries and places with inadequate ICU care. There are plenty of places in the world that have reasonably good medical care.

    I consider eating at restaurants unsafe. That is a big part of travel.

    I am not completely against travel now. Last summer, I did a driving trip though it was modified for the pandemic. Restaurants were avoided by bringing food. N95 masks were worn. Outdoor activities substituted for indoor shopping and museums.

  16. I am saying no to price increases by skipping, canceling Netflix, Prime, you name it. Go camping. There is a big recession coming which will create all kinds of promos and loyalty deals.

    • We are going to see price hikes everywhere for sure with inflation way up and gas prices where they are. Trimming what you can now is a good idea Doug.

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