Surge in gasoline prices is altering vacation plans
[ said. He added that the Vegas trip, which includes three nights at the MGM Grand’s new Signature hotel, was less than half the cost of flying to Cabo San Lucas, where they initially planned to go. “We’re saving a bundle and I’m happy about that.”
Last week, gas prices nationwide were averaging $3.04 for a gallon of regular — 25 cents more than a month ago and 15 cents higher than regular gas was at the same time last year, according to the AAA. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, regular gas averaged $3.48 last week, 22 cents higher than last month and 9 cents higher than last year.
Flights over the holiday weekend are averaging about 5% less than last year, with average airfare at $166. Car rental rates also are down about 16% to an average of $31 a day.
But hotel rates are up 13% from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $174 a night, the AAA said. That may be one reason the use of recreational vehicles is expected to be up this year compared with 2006 despite high fuel costs, according to a survey of RV owners.
But travelers will tolerate only so much in fuel costs, according to the Travel Industry Assn., which found in a survey that a third of more than 2,000 respondents would cancel a trip if a gallon of gas hit a nationwide average of $3.50.
“There is that small risk that if gasoline prices do in fact get that high, our industry will suffer,” Cook said.
McGinnis of Expedia Travel Trendwatch is advising his readers to try destinations “off the beaten path” to avoid crowds and save money.
For instance, try flying north of the border to Quebec City instead of to Paris, which traditionally becomes one of the summer’s most-crowded — and most expensive — destinations. Quebec City is “right out of a fairy tale, in a French-speaking Canadian province,” McGinnis said.
Or if Hawaii is a favorite, consider Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. “Off the radar of most travelers, it’s now one of the fastest-growing destinations among Expedia travelers,” he said.
Other ways to save include considering alternative airports. Residents of the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys might consider flying out of Palmdale Regional Airport, where United Airlines will launch a service Tuesday with special introductory fares, including round trips to Washington, New York, Boston and Chicago via San Francisco for $318.