What to do about “Vacation Inflation”

What to do about “Vacation Inflation”

By Jacqui Kearns, Chief Brand, Strategy, and Wellbeing Officer

Date: June 15, 2022

Everyone is feeling the financial pinch, as gas prices have risen over fifty percent from last summer and grocery store trips can be the cause of check out counter anxiety. For many of us, unwinding includes sandy shoes and salty air at the Jersey Shore. The sights and sounds of Shore boardwalks are the welcoming mat of summer for residents from across Jersey and the surrounding areas. Beach vacations are a longstanding family tradition for many, and one that we at Affinity welcome for our members. Not only does a trip to the shore mean some fun in the sun, but Gallup research also shows spending on experiences boosts our wellbeing for the long term.1 We compiled a list of the most popular Shore activities, food and associated travel costs to find out just how much more vacationers will be spending this summer.

jersey shore infographic

What changed?
Overall prices increased 16.6% compared to 2021. A full breakdown of what changed and what stayed the same can be found in the graphic below. Most notably, all of the categories saw double-digit increases, meaning businesses are passing some or all of the price increases on to the consumer. While many factors play a part in these changes, like labor costs, supply chain and inflation, the result for the Shore-lovers is the same: Higher costs.

jersey shore infographic

What to do about it?
There is no single solution for beating vacation inflation this year but Affinity wants to make sure our members have a toolbox of options for hitting the sand and soaking in the sun this summer. For families this might mean squeezing more towels into the car in lieu of chair and umbrella rentals and packing a cooler with sandwiches instead of springing for a restaurant lunch. The key to preserving the experience is making tradeoffs when possible and keeping the summer traditions alive where it makes sense financially. Of course, with prices still on the rise, planning and saving for the trip needs to start even earlier than usual, and now is a good time to even start thinking about 2023 summer plans.

jersey shore infographic

When to spend and when to save?
Since getting to the Shore is a part of the experience that can’t be changed, grabbing any savings where you can find them can add up. Apps like GetUpside and GasBuddy can help you save on gas. Apps and websites including AAA TripTik Travel Planner, Waze, and MapQuest can help you find the cheapest gas station on the route to your destination. Additionally, Wawa, BPme Rewards, Shell Fuel Rewards, and other gas station chains all offer individual gas savings when at their respective locations. These are the smaller savings that can help add up over time to combat price increases. Researching your cash back or bonus cards could be another source of savings. Many credit cards, including Affinity’s, offer bonus categories, and gas is often included. It never hurts to do the math when there’s a price difference between paying cash or card, especially when gas prices are on the rise.

jersey shore infographic

Going to buy your own beach chairs and umbrellas might not be cheaper than renting, even with increased rental costs accounted for. On top of that, storing those items isn’t always realistic. If you have more than one trip to the Shore planned this summer and can store those items, it absolutely would be a cost savings to purchase them. Affinity members get 1% cash back when they use their Affinity Cash Back Debit card. This up-front cost would mean considerable savings over time for families that enjoy staking a claim in the sand for a day of fun in the sun.

With grocery prices on the rise, the boardwalk pizza slice might still be an economical option when compared to packing sandwiches and beverages with ice and carrying it with you along with chairs, towels and beach bags. When it makes sense to slice and pack that store bought watermelon, the savings can help offset other areas where making compromises isn’t possible. The added benefit is having your snacks nearby as you enjoy a beach read or dry off from a swim.

Leisure activities saw an 11.5% increase. This means those boardwalk rides and activities cost more and those small changes can add up when planning for a family or group. Packing a ball, frisbee or kite can offer hours of entertainment in exchange for miniature golf or bumper cars. If the Ferris wheel is a tradition that can’t be given up, making concessions in other areas of the trip can help offset the changes. Simply choosing a spot without expensive attractions and food at the boardwalk can also result in significant savings. New Jersey state parks have waived entrance fees for parks Memorial Day through Labor Day which allow beach goers to enjoy Island Beach State Park and fifty other state parks at no cost.

Shore businesses still need the support of visitors so keeping your vacation plans in place and making adjustments where needed can be mutually beneficial as businesses recover from the pandemic slow down and the related challenges that are now going into the third summer. Affinity members can also reach out to our digital branch to help identify extra ways to save with the spending you’re already doing. Visit www.affinityfcu.com for more information.

This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments.