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Flight searches for travel “dupes” increased in 2023
Dupe is, of course, a new term that puts a spin on the old concept of bargain hunting.
Data shows that travelers leveraged this strategy more in 2023. For example, flight searches more than doubled for several “dupe” destinations internationally, according to Expedia data.
Searches for Taipei, a dupe of Seoul, increased 458% in the United States and 2,786% globally, according to Expedia. Those to Pattaya, Thailand, an alternative to Bangkok, increased 163% in the United States and 249% globally.
Similarly, searches for flights to the island of Curacao, which replaces St. Maarten, increased 228% in the United States and 185% globally. Those to Perth, Australia, a dupe of Sydney, jumped 33% in the United States and 109% globally. Additionally, those to Liverpool, England, an alternative to London, increased 138% in the United States and 97% worldwide, according to Expedia.
The data compared searches carried out in the 12 months to August 31, 2023 to the same period the previous year.
“TikTok has popularized the idea of dupes…and the concept is gaining more and more traction in the travel world,” Expedia said in a report released Wednesday.
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Affordability is one of the top reasons consumers cite for seeking these alternative destinations, Expedia said.
“If you’re looking to save money on your next trip, consider another destination,” said Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper, a travel app. “Often, you can save on air and hotel rates by choosing an off-the-beaten-path destination.”
For example, the average round-trip flight from the United States to Hanoi, Vietnam costs $1,564. Travelers would save money by going to Ho Chi Minh City, where a flight costs an average of $1,326, Hopper said.
Along the same lines, let’s say you’re considering a trip to Spain.
A round-trip flight to Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands, costs an average of $827. Instead, you might consider a trip to Barcelona, a popular metropolis, where a flight costs an average of $572, according to Hopper. Similarly, flights to Phuket, Thailand, an island getaway, cost $1,705 round-trip, while flights to the capital Bangkok cost $1,404. Hopper prices are current averages for December-March departures.
More Americans have planned trips abroad this year, as their pandemic-related health fears have eased and countries have largely reopened their borders to visitors. Americans asked for a passport in record numbers in 2022 and 2023.
This growing demand has caused prices to rise across the entire travel spectrum. Flight tickets to Europe, the most popular destination for American tourists, were the most expensive on record in the summer of 2023.
In the United States, fraudulent travel search traffic peaked throughout 2023, peaking in July, according to Google Trends. data.
However, Hopper flight data indicates that not all dupes will necessarily pay off for travelers. They may need to try different alternatives to save money.
For example, the average round-trip flight from the United States to Perth, the aforementioned dupe for Sydney, currently costs $2,389, while a flight to Sydney costs $1,572, according to Hopper. However, travelers looking a little further afield – to Nadi, Fiji or Auckland, New Zealand – would spend $1,365 and $1,394, respectively, Hopper said.
However, the dupes aren’t just about the price of plane tickets. People traveling off the beaten path can often save money on local food, hotels and transportation, said Sara Rathner, travel expert at NerdWallet.
Avoiding places that are “too touristy,” especially if you’re traveling during peak season, can also be a more pleasant experience because of the smaller crowds, Rathner said.
When choosing a “dupe” destination, travelers should look for details such as amenities, infrastructure and safety considerations, Rathner added. Reading travel articles and blogs online and asking friends who have already visited the country can give a general idea of potential itineraries and ease of accommodation and travel, she said.
To save money on general travel, try to be flexible with travel dates, Berg said. For example, flying on a Tuesday can save you $100 on domestic airfares, while departing Monday through Wednesday can save you up to $150 per international ticket, Berg said.
Hotel stays are most expensive on Friday and Saturday nights. Starting a stay on Sunday can save an average of 25% on weekend rates, she added.
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