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Inflation will crimp many Americans' holiday travel plans

How to save money on holiday travel
Travel Watch: Holiday travel tips that will save you money 03:37

Inflation could dash some of the holiday cheer for many Americans who plan on traveling to see family and friends this season.

Surging gas, airfare and hotel costs are making travelers especially budget-conscious, according to a survey from Bankrate. Americans said they plan to travel shorter distances, spend fewer days out of town and engage in fewer activities that cost money. More people are also planning to drive to their destination instead of flying, while others are planning to use credit card points to book trips, the personal finance site found. 

Travel costs are up sharply compared to last year. Lodging away from home, which includes hotel stays, was up 4% in August from a year ago, according to the Consumer Price Index. Gasoline rose 26% during that same period, and airline fares jumped 28%, inflation data shows. 

The days between November 24 and January 1 are the busiest times for domestic travel. The price of plane tickets and hotel stays during the holidays are expected to continue growing, with airfares reaching some of their highest points in the past five years, according to travel booking app Hopper

How to maximize your hotel stay 03:05

Domestic flights on Christmas Day are roughly $435 on average for a round-trip fare, up 55% from last year, while Thanksgiving airfare prices are about $281 round-trip, a 25% increase from last year, Hopper's data shows. 

"Those prices are going up 4% every week between now and the time you want to go," CBS News senior travel adviser Peter Greenberg said. "So anybody who wants to procrastinate now, you do so at your own peril in terms of the price you're going to be paying."

To avoid higher prices, don't travel on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and opt instead to board a flight on that Thursday, Greenberg said. It's going to be cheaper to travel back home on Black Friday, he added. 

The average hotel stay over the Thanksgiving holiday will be $189 per night, up 13% from last year, and $218 a night during Christmas, up 32% from last year.

Holiday travel also proved a challenge earlier this year, particularly around Memorial Day, when passengers experienced thousands of canceled or delayed flights. The cancellations stemmed from a combination of bad weather, staffing shortages and TSA and airlines over-scheduling some flights. 

"Hopefully this holiday season won't be as messy, but I suspect there will be more travel disruptions due to weather, high demand, lingering staff and equipment shortages," Bankrate senior industry analyst Ted Rossman said. 

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