Get outta Dodge, on wings or wheels

Rob Davis and Pat Boddy enjoyed Miramar Beach at Destin, Florida, so much in 2022, they’re returning this summer.

By Steve Dinnen

Last year Pat Boddy and her husband, Rob Davis, rented a home for two weeks on the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and then rented a condo in Miramar Beach, Florida, next to their daughter and son-in-law’s place. This year they’re returning to Florida, lured by the bonus of grandchildren, and may spend a few days in the Smoky Mountains on the way back.

Meanwhile, Ted and Jane Brackett are gearing up for a trip to Donegal, Ireland, where some friends from San Francisco offered them the use of their cottage. “We haven’t traveled out of the country since 2017 for lots of reasons, so when we discussed going somewhere we ranked our choices,” Ted said. “Actually, Jane didn’t care where, as long as it was somewhere we hadn’t been before.”

So this is how a few of my friends are spending the summer. I conducted a straw poll among them to see where real people are traveling these days, and pretty much everyone is going somewhere, be it near or far. A survey from a travel publication called The Vacationer estimates that about 20% of American adults — nearly 53 million people — will travel abroad this summer. Additionally, nearly 60% of Americans will travel domestically. All told, that’s about 200 million people in airports and on the roads.

Even so, airfares seem to be fairly reasonable. (Yes, there’s more chaos in the air, but it’s mostly due to scheduling difficulties with Southwest Airlines and United Airlines). A round-trip flight from Des Moines to Bozeman, Montana, for instance, which puts you at the doorstep to Yellowstone National Park, runs around $527 with United Airlines. In previous summers it was nearly $1,000, when COVID-era travelers favored destinations that enabled physical distancing.

While airfares may seem somewhat easy on the wallet, rental cars are a different story. A week’s rental of a seven-passenger GMC Yukon SUV from the Bozeman airport will set you back $3,100. At that rate, why not just drive from Des Moines? You could get a Toyota Highlander at the Des Moines airport for a week for $565. (That’s with unlimited mileage, and it’s 1,100 miles to Bozeman.) That $2,500 savings would pay for a lot of motel rooms on the way to and from Old Faithful.

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