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When the COVID-19 crisis erupted in early 2020, it forced a lot of people to put travel plans on hold for a long time. Travel then picked up in 2021, but some of those plans were thwarted by the emergence of the Delta variant and the lack of widespread vaccine availability.

But this year, COVID has been less of a factor in people’s decision to travel. And with many former restrictions being lifted, consumers have been less hesitant to commit to plans.

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That increase in demand, however, has caused travel costs to soar over the past number of months. And if demand stays strong, consumers could end up paying even more to travel in 2023.

Travel costs could continue to climb

Recent estimates by travel management company CWT and the Global Business Travel Association show that corporate travel prices are likely to rise in 2023. And if companies are looking at higher prices, so are regular travelers.

A big reason travel costs are so high right now is that demand is strong at a time when the airline and hospitality industries are lacking in staff. Throw in rising fuel costs and general inflation, and it’s no wonder so many people are racking up giant credit card tabs in the course of taking a trip.

Recent estimates point to air fares rising over 8% in 2023. And while that may not seem like an alarmingly large increase, given that travel has already gotten expensive, it could put a lot of people in a tough spot next year.

How to save on travel in 2023

If you have big travel plans in 2023, or you’re the type of person who tends to travel often, then it’s important to do what you can to keep your costs to a minimum. The last thing you want is for your plans or habits to lead you into dangerous debt.

One good bet is to research airfares and hotel rates ahead of time, and book strategically. Hotels in particular tend to have flexible cancellation policies, so booking a room well in advance of a given trip might work to your advantage.

Another good bet is to get yourself a travel rewards credit card, especially if you think you’ll be doing a lot of travel by air. Many of these cards come with money-saving perks like free checked bags and discounts on in-flight purchases. And since the days of getting free meals on domestic flights are long behind us, that’s an important benefit to have.

At the same time, look for a credit card that rewards you generously for gas fill-ups if you think you’ll be taking a lot of road trips. Better yet, find travel buddies to split the cost with — not to mention the driving.

As expensive as it was to travel in 2022, consumers could end up paying even more to get out and explore in 2023. It’s best to gear up for that possibility by padding your travel budget, booking plans strategically, and acquiring the right credit cards.

Check out The Ascent’s best credit cards for 2022

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