Still going on vacation but closer to home
Americans are changing their summer plans because of soaring gas prices and hotel rates.
Gasoline prices are astronomical and hotel rates are going through the roof, but that hasn’t discouraged people from planning getaways this Memorial Day weekend.
And summer travel — especially within the U.S. — is looking hot.
Studies “show that the majority of consumers expect to continue to see high gas prices this summer, but they seem to be taking this much more in stride than they have in the past,” said Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Assn.
But families are making adjustments. They are planning to stay fewer days at less-pricey hotels that are closer to home and they’ll dine at cheaper restaurants, said Sandra Hughes, vice president of travel for the Automobile Assn. of America.
The action will start in earnest Friday, the AAA said, as the number of travelers trekking 50 miles or more for the holiday weekend is expected to rise about 2% from last year. It was up about 1% in 2006.
Summer travel won’t be much different, so expect crowded airports and packed airplanes, said Chris McGinnis, editor of Expedia Travel Trendwatch. Fares aren’t going up as they did last year, when they rose about 10%.
“It’s getting crowded out there, but prices are holding firm,” McGinnis said.
That’s because low-cost carriers are adding planes and seats for summer, putting pressure on major airlines to hold the line on fares. Some airlines tried raising fares several times in the last two weeks but had to retreat when others declined to follow suit.
Meanwhile, a weak dollar and new passport rules are putting a damper on interest in overseas vacations. Shorter domestic trips to destinations such as Las Vegas and San Francisco are surging, according to online travel services.
Jun and Johnny Chung of Irvine are among those couples electing to stay closer to home. They will drive to Las Vegas.
“I do mind that gas prices are so high, but we’ve got to get away,” Johnny Chung
TOURIST LANDMARK: Diamond Head looms over beachgoers on Hawaii’s Oahu. Airfares have stabilized this year after increasing markedly in 2006. Fuller flights and crowded terminals are expected to be the rule at U.S. airports this summer.
SHORT TRIP: More visitors are likely at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.