Protect your finances from the power of summer travel FOMO

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Views from a tower in Portugal, gondolas in Venice, beaches in the Bahamas – as you scroll through your social media feeds, it seems like everyone you’ve met is on a scenic vacation this summer. Compared to the past two years, 2022 is seeing a surge in travel, especially international travel, and it may seem impossible to keep up.

The number of international flights departing from the United States increased about 97% year-over-year from April 2021 to April 2022, according to US International Air Travel Statistics. Airbnb Data from May 2022 also saw an all-time high in long-stay bookings, with US travelers heading to Italy, Mexico, Costa Rica and the Bahamas as well as domestic beach destinations.

If you’re not planning on traveling this year, hearing about other people’s vacations might give you a twinge of heartache: the fear of missing out. But don’t let the comparisons scare you into booking a trip that could upset your finances. Even with time and budget constraintsit is possible to have a fun summer.

How do people afford this?

For many travelers, this summer is the chance to travel for the first time in two years, and the anticipation is well worth it. Some are probably even willing to go over budget or go into debt just to take their dream vacation.

“It’s pent-up demand,” says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. “People have saved a lot of money over the past two years and can afford the price increases.”

For many, the shift to remote working has also made travel more accessible. Yaslynn Rivera, a Los Angeles-based executive assistant at a video streaming company, is making the most of remote work by seizing opportunities she otherwise wouldn’t have had before COVID-19.

“I have childhood and college friends who now live all over the country,” she said. “If I go somewhere, it’s because I know someone there,” she added, explaining her almost constant location changes. She stays with friends instead of booking hotel rooms and Airbnbs, and when she does book a room, she sticks to a tight budget.

“I don’t mind being inconvenienced by the experience,” she says, citing motel rooms, red-eye thefts and working on the road.

While some travelers may be able to afford luxury travel this summer, travelers like Rivera are making the most of the opportunities and connections they have, even if it means sacrificing convenience. If you work remotely and have a flexible schedule, trying Rivera’s approach might be a good way to add more travel to your summer.

The influence of social networks

Despite the realities, social media can still make travel look like a Pinterest-worthy paradise.

“There’s definitely a fear of missing out,” says Giacomo Moriondo, a Chicago-based customer services manager at an aviation services company, referring to seeing friends post from scenic destinations. “I’m jealous; I would love to have the freedom to visit my family in Italy and Argentina, but it’s not financially possible for me this summer.

Moriondo has felt the pressure to travel this summer, but with work at the office, limited time off, and out-of-budget airfare, his options are limited.

“When you see some people posting lavish vacations, you can’t compare,” Rivera notes. “They may be from a wealthy family or on a sponsored trip; they are not on the same playing field.

Consider limiting your social media consumption if such posts bother you. Or if you’re curious, ask regular travelers how they organize their trips. People can be refreshingly honest about their situation, and the answers might surprise you.

The benefits of staying at home

American travelers are flocking to vacation destinations in record numbers, but this summer may not be the best time to take the trip you’ve been waiting for.

“I personally think it’s a bad year for travel,” says Hobica. With rising airfares, strikes in the travel industry and price increases in all categories, international travel – especially with children – can be more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Resisting the temptation to join the travel rush this summer can help you take advantage of milder weather and crowds in the fall or even next year.

“I would wait for things to calm down,” says Hobica. “Too many people are traveling and there are not enough workers to support them; it’s not reliable right now to get where you want to go.

In the meantime, if you haven’t planned a trip this summer, plan some adventures closer to home.

“I turn into a tourist in my own city,” says Moriondo. “You don’t feel like you’re missing out when you do something yourself.”

Exploring your own city or state, visiting family and friends across the country, and seeking low-cost outdoor experiences can enrich your summer and satisfy your travel cravings without breaking your budget.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

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