Spring Travel Costs Are Soaring Thanks to Inflation

A couple enjoys the beach.
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Whether you’re going on a spring break trip with friends or traveling with family, be prepared to pay more for everything from airfare and hotel reservations to car rentals. That’s thanks to inflation at a record-setting 8.5%—the highest rate in 40 years

The Balance analyzed March 2022 inflation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) and found that, compared to March 2021, prices have significantly increased in the U.S. for springtime travel and entertainment. Other data The Balance examined indicated that even household supplies like cleaning products and indoor plants are more expensive.

Key Takeaways

  • The Balance analyzed recent inflation data from the Consumer Price Index and found travel expenses for gas, airfares, lodging, and car rentals are all up more than 20% from last year.
  • Tickets for sporting events have increased 9% from last year, while concert and movie tickets are up 5% in price year over year.
  • Alcohol had the lowest price increases of any of the spring inflation items analyzed by The Balance. 

Costs for Spring Travel and Entertainment Are Sky-High

Before you set off on your spring travel, make sure you budget for your trip to account for a more expensive travel season all around. According to The Balance’s analysis, travel-related expenses had the most significant price jumps in March 2022, with prices for gas, hotels, airfares, and car rentals all up more than 20% from the same time last year. Spring breakers planning road trips might want to budget for gas in advance since gas prices are up 33% from last year. Despite some relief at the gas pump since March, gas prices were still high at about $4.09 per gallon as of April 11.

For those planning to travel a little further this spring break, hotel stays and airline fares are more expensive than in 2021, up 29% and 24%, respectively. The average hotel reservation cost $131.45 per night in March 2022, and the average airfare was $370.52 for round-trip and domestic tickets. If you’re going to need a car once you reach your destination, be prepared to pay more for car rentals, too. The average cost of car or truck rental is $25 per day, up 23% from last year. 

However, you might save some money on travel costs if you take the train. The only mode of transportation that is less expensive now compared to last year is Amtrak, with the average Amtrak train ticket priced at $67.82—12% less in February 2022 (most recent data available) compared to February 2021. 

Sports fans and concertgoers will also be paying more to attend, as our analysis found notable increases in the cost of live entertainment tickets. Tickets for sporting events rose 9% from 2021, with the average ticket to attend NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL games priced at $98. Increased travel costs make attending big sporting events such as the MLB Opening Day, the NBA playoffs, and March Madness even more expensive. Meanwhile, movie and concert tickets are up 5% from last year—the average concert ticket costs a little over $100, and the average movie ticket costs about $10. 

In some good news for spring breakers, alcohol had the lowest price increases of any of the spring travel items looked at by The Balance. The cost of popular alcoholic drinks such as beer, whiskey, and wine rose slightly compared to March 2021. Nationwide prices for beer increased 4% according to the March 2022 CPI, while whiskey and wine rose just under 3% and 2%, respectively. All of these slight increases are well below the CPI year-over-year inflation rate of 8.5%. 

Household Cleaning Supplies and Indoor Plants Cost More, Too

Travel was not the only category to experience price increases due to inflation—consumers paid more for household cleaning supplies and indoor plants, too. For those planning to spring clean their spaces instead of traveling to other places, household cleaning products are 9% more expensive in March 2022 than last year. Those shopping for new plants for their homes can also expect to pay more, as the cost of indoor plants and flowers increased by 6% from 2021.

Methodology

The Balance analysis looked at year-over-year price changes for every item (except for regular gasoline and Amtrak) and was sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for March 2021 and March 2022. Regular gasoline prices and year-over-year changes were sourced from the Energy Information Administration’s Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update for April 11, 2022, and April 12, 2021. Amtrak ticket prices were derived by dividing reported adjusted ticket revenue by total ridership from Amtrak’s February 2022 and 2021 Monthly Performance Reports.

The reported latest prices in dollars for each item were sourced from either common or well-known providers of said products as an example of what a price for an item in the BLS CPI category would be. Average hotel prices were sourced from Statista. Airline fares from the latest Bureau of Transportation Statistics report on national airfares. Car rental prices were sourced from Kayak. Sporting event ticket prices were an average of MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL prices from SeatGeek. Movie ticket prices were sourced from Statista. Concert ticket prices were sourced from Pollstar. Household cleaning product prices were sourced from Statista as a yearly average of what Americans spend on cleaning products.

Indoor plants and flowers were sourced from The Home Depot as an average of 24- to 47-inch Monstera plants. Beer prices were sourced from Expensivity’s World Beer Index 2021. Whiskey price was a Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Apple Whiskey 750 milliliter bottle sourced from Walmart on April 12, 2022. Wine cost was red and white table wine, all sizes, any origin, per 1 liter (33.8 ounces) as of March 2022 from the BLS average price series. Latest price data values that were not available for March 2022 were imputed with the specific product’s category CPI change.

Correction - April 18, 2022: This article has been updated to correct the average prices for hotel reservations, airline fares, car and truck rentals, and the year-over-year change in Amtrak ticket prices in the fourth and fifth paragraphs. The second bullet in the Key Takeaways section was also updated to include the year-over-year change for sporting events, concerts, and movie ticket prices. This article was originally published on April 15, 2022.

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Research and analysis by
Adrian Nesta
Adrian Nesta, Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash
Full Bio
Adrian Nesta is a research analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash, the digital publisher that owns and operates The Balance. His work includes data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization for stories in the data journalism portfolio across every vertical at Dotdash.
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Article Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Consumer Price Index—March 2022,” Page 1.

  2. Energy Information Agency. “Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update: April 11, 2022.”