Still go­ing on vacation but closer to home

Amer­i­cans are chang­ing their sum­mer plans be­cause of soar­ing gas prices and ho­tel rates.

Los Angeles Times - - Business - By Peter Pae

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

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Lawrence K. Ho Los An­ge­les Times

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.

Eric Risberg As­so­ci­ated Press

SHORT TRIP: More vis­i­tors are likely at San Fran­cisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

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