It’s not just you — vacations are impossible to book right now. Here’s what experts say you need to know.

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Woman hiker on a mountain trail overlooking the ocean in Hawaii
Hawaii is one of the most popular, and expensive places to visit right now.Heather Goodman/Shutterstock
  • After staying home for nearly 2 years, many people are ready to take a long-awaited vacation.
  • Pent-up demand has travelers eager to book, but flights and hotels are often expensive or booked up.
  • Here’s why that’s happening and what experts say you can do about it.

After spending two years at home, Los Angeles-based event producer Kate Mazzuca was vaccinated, vacation-starved, and ready to travel again. But even though she started searching months ahead of her proposed travel dates this winter, she was shocked by the results.

“I set my sights on a sunny locale and thought Hawaii would be ideal, but it was unbelievably cost-prohibitive,” she told Insider. “It was $1,000 a night for a hotel 10 minutes from the beach.” She next looked into the Caribbean, but found prices also in the thousands.

If you’ve tried to book a trip recently, you might recognize your own experience in Mazzuca’s search, either from a lack of availability or eye-popping prices that translate to total nonstarters.

Here’s why and where travel and hospitality experts say that’s happening, and what you can do to get around it.

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St. Petersburg, Florida.

Current travel demand is focused mostly on warm weather, domestic locales like Florida.mariakray/Shutterstock
Travel demand is highly concentrated right now around domestic, warm-weather destinations

Recent research from travel insurance company Allianz Partners, which reviewed four million round-trip itineraries from US airports for a period in December, found that 87 percent of them were for domestic travel, compared with just 13 percent for international travel.

It’s a trend that Willis Orlando, the senior product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, is seeing as well. Orlando spends his days analyzing flight prices and told Insider that domestic airfare is still down slightly in price from pre-pandemic levels overall, even in the face of rising inflation. But he acknowledges that for the most popular destinations, airfare can feel very expensive.

“Demand is highly concentrated at the moment,” he said. “It has surged on domestic and short-haul international leisure routes. If you’re traveling at a peak time [such as the holiday season], you’re going to be fighting with a lot of other folks for those tickets, which can result in higher prices.”

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Domestic destinations with year-round appeal for families, like Disney, are likely to be very costly right now.John Raoux/AP

Specifically, travelers are very interested in places like Miami, Maui, Disney, or the Caribbean, and are prepared to pay for it

Brandon Berkson helms the trip-planning service HAP Concierge, which customizes boutique and unique travel itineraries for generally affluent Americans between ages 25 and 44. He told Insider many of his clients want to travel to New York City, Miami, Maui, Sedona, and Disney parks.

“Domestic destinations with year-round appeal for families who are not ready for international travel, or have kids who are unable to get vaccinated, are seeing the highest rates,” he said. “The focus is on outdoor or beach destinations, Disney, and a high desire for escapism.”

Additionally, many popular, close-to-home locations in the Caribbean and Mexico that are easily accessible by nonstop flights are seeing high prices and low availability.

“Anything that’s less than a five-hour flight from major US metros, in particular, places with a beach, will be particularly challenging this winter,” warned Henley Vazquez, travel advisor and co-founder of Fora, a tech-driven startup travel agency.

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