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Flight searches for travel ‘dupes’ increased in 2023

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Affordability is a top driver of travel dupes

Affordability is among the top reasons cited by consumers for seeking out these alternate destinations, Expedia said.

“If you are looking to save money on your next trip, consider an alternate destination,” said Hayley Berg, lead economist at Hopper, a travel app. “Oftentimes you can save on airfare and hotel rates by picking a destination off the beaten track.”

For example, the average round-trip flight from the U.S. to Hanoi, Vietnam, is $1,564. Travelers would save money by flying instead to Ho Chi Minh City, where a flight averages $1,326, Hopper said.

In a similar vein, let’s say you’re considering a trip to Spain.

A round-trip flight to Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands, costs $827, on average. Instead, you might consider a trip to Barcelona, a popular metropolis, where a flight costs an average $572, according to Hopper. Likewise, flights to Phuket, Thailand, an island getaway, cost $1,705 round trip, while flights to the capital Bangkok cost $1,404. The Hopper prices are current averages for departures in December to March.

More Americans planned trips abroad this year as their pandemic-era health fears waned and countries largely reopened their borders to visitors. Americans applied for passports in record numbers in 2022 and 2023.

That surging demand caused prices to surge across the travel spectrum. Airfare to Europe, the most popular destination for U.S. tourists, was the most expensive on record in summer 2023.  

Internet search traffic in the U.S. for travel dupes spiked throughout 2023, peaking in July, according to Google Trends data.

It’s more than just the flight price

However, Hopper flight data indicates that not all dupes will necessarily pay off for travelers. They may need to try a few different alternatives to find savings.

For example, the average round-trip flight from the U.S. to Perth, the aforementioned dupe for Sydney, currently costs $2,389, while a flight to Sydney costs $1,572, according to Hopper. However, travelers who look a bit farther afield — to Nadi, Fiji, or Auckland, New Zealand — would spend $1,365 and $1,394, respectively, Hopper said.

However, dupes aren’t just about the airfare. People traveling off the beaten track can often save on food, hotels and local transportation, said Sara Rathner, travel expert at NerdWallet.

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