Do a quick search for travel to Orlando, a popular vacation spot for Connecticut residents, and it’ll cost you a pretty penny.
NBC Connecticut’s Caitlin Burchill compared travel costs for a four-day trip.
A flight for two, a rental car and a decent hotel would have cost around $1,700, and that didn’t include money for food, drinks and fun.
How much could you save by skipping the flight and driving instead? She found a rental car for about $300, but had to factor in gas and any wear and tear. Not to mention, all that driving would cut into her time at the beach.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
When the pandemic travel restrictions lifted, Jennifer Pineros, of Manchester, chose to treat herself to essentially a little over a year’s worth of lost travel in one trip. Her destination: Greece.
“I was gone for two full weeks. It was wonderful, but it was very expensive,” Pineros said.
But it’s when she arrived back in the U.S. that the sticker shock struck. The current rental car shortage pushed prices much higher than she expected.
She booked a $140 rental car to drive from JFK back to Connecticut. When she made the reservation, Pineros wasn’t sure where she would return the car. She found out leaving the car at Bradley International Airport would tack on an extra $260.
She called around to other potential drop-off locations in Connecticut and found that the prices varied.
“I pulled over and I thought of legitimately just bringing it back [to JFK],” Pineros said. “I literally would have saved $100 if I brought the car back and got an Uber.”
In the end, she returned the car to Bradley despite the cost.
She used a third-party travel site to book the rental car, which she believes contributed to the confusion.
“I wish the trip ended better. It was a wonderful trip, but again, I did not expect to spend $400 dollars on the last day of the trip that I never budgeted in,” she said.
Because rental cars are hard to come by right now, some vacationers are thinking outside the box… as in box trucks.
Caitlin’s friend Jackie recently got married after postponing the ceremony during COVID. For their honeymoon in Hawaii, Jackie and her new husband saved a lot of cash by renting a pickup truck from a moving company instead of a traditional rental car.
Joining a travel club can also help you save. AAA says its seen a 30% increase in signups for new memberships. A spokesperson tells us travelers are specifically looking for hotel and theme park ticket discounts.
Certain credit cards also offer travel incentives and other perks.
“Credit card companies are really aggressively pushing for your business right now,” said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst with Bankrate.com.
Make sure to use your rewards before they lose value. And Rossman advises consumers to splurge out of their savings, rather than adding to their debt. And he says being flexible is another way to save.
“If you don’t have anything planned, but you want to get something, maybe you look for the deals rather than the destination,” he said.