Can Americans Afford Spring Break in Joe Biden’s America?

April 11, 2022

By James Carter and Mya Phillips

For the first time in a couple of years, COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have lessened to the point people can travel again. But can American families afford their spring break trips to warmer locales or see friends and family given 40-year-high inflation and record-high prices for gasoline?

Sadly, the answer may be no for many families.

The cost of the Biden Administration’s economic policies is becoming more evident every month. According to a recent estimate, inflation costs the average American family $385 more each month. That’s more than $4,600 per year, some of which could be stowed away for a special trip but are now required to pay for groceries, gasoline, and home heating and cooling.

For a family of four driving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for five nights, it will cost about $500 more to make the trip than in 2019. As you would assume, much of the higher cost comes from the elevated price of gasoline, which has been up 47% since March 2019.

To make matters worse, Disney increased prices for merchandise, park tickets, and parking. It also raised prices on nearly every food and beverage item in its parks, resorts, and other properties. Why? Its costs are rising too. Two of Disney World’s main food suppliers, Mondelez and Kraft Heinz, recently announced price increases. Kraft Heinz indicated that it plans to raise prices on certain products by as much as 20%. Mondelez recently shared that it plans to raise the prices on many popular food brands (i.e., Chips Ahoy, Ritz, and Sour Patch Kids) by 7%.

The same family of four will pay even more if it decides to fly and rent a car rather than drive the nearly 2,000 miles roundtrip themselves. In 2019, airfare reached a 4-year low-price average of $275 for domestic tickets. COVID flight cancelations followed by higher jet fuel prices have caused costs to soar. In recent days two major carriers announced plans to cut flights this spring and raise ticket prices. Once again, our family of four bears the brunt of inflation and soaring fuel costs we see under the Biden Administration.

Back on the ground, skyrocketing prices are also hitting the rental car market. According to Kayak, the average daily rental car rate was $46 in December 2019. That nearly doubled to an all-time high of $81 per day in December 2021, and more of the same is expected this year. Let’s not also forget that in addition to the price of renting the car, you will pay more again when you fill up the tank before returning it to the airport.

Inflation does not “just happen.” As the old saying goes, it’s the result of too much money chasing too few goods. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve waited too long to start raising interest rates, and the Biden Administration’s costly spending and regulatory policies have only aggravated the situation. What Americans need right now to combat inflation is a less accommodative monetary policy, less government spending, and federal policies to unshackle the private sector and increase the supply of labor and output.

Meanwhile, as many hard-working families struggle with higher prices on groceries, gasoline, utilities, and just about everything else, these higher costs might mean a shorter spring break or perhaps no spring break trip at all. Indeed, with mask and vaccination restrictions on the wane, Americans are now free to do all the things they can no longer afford to do.

James Carter serves as Director, Center for American Prosperity for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).