The overall sense of economic uneasiness and the ongoing lagging employment rate of recent months has many Californians forgoing travel plans for this upcoming holiday weekend, according to AAA.
AAA’s latest travel forecast predicts more than 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this upcoming three-day Labor Day weekend. This represents an overall decrease of 2.6 percent compared to last year.
“California travelers are reacting to the most recent economic downturns and that is having a significant effect on discretionary spending,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “Nonetheless, with a pent up desire to get away for the last holiday of the season, we could see an increase in last-minute weekend travel.”
Labor Day holiday trips by automobile are expected to be the preferred mode of transportation with more than 3 million Californians planning to take to the nation’s roadways this holiday weekend. This represents a slight 0.9 percent increase compared to 2010. Air travel is down by 1.5 percent compared to 2010 as more than 453,000 Californians are projected to fly to reach their vacation getaways. AAA estimates over 230,000 Californians will be taking other modes of transportation, such as rail, buses and watercraft. This represents a significant decrease of 33.1 percent from 2010.
Nationally, AAA projects just over 31.5 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Labor Day weekend, representing a 2.4 percent decrease compared to 2010.
The AAA Leisure Travel Index shows that airfares over Labor Day weekend are expected to rise by 13 percent from 2010, with an average cost of $202 per ticket for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Hotel rates at AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase by six percent with an average of $148 per night. Weekend car rentals are forecasted to decrease by seven percent, with a new average rate of $43. The travel expenditures for a West Coast family of four are expected to average $627 over the weekend, and the average road trip is predicted to cover 498 miles.
AAA’s survey shows that shopping, visits with friends and relatives and dining out will be the preferred leisure activities for West Coast families. Other favorite activities over the weekend are expected to be touring and sightseeing, followed by visiting historical sites and biking.
As part of AAA’s ongoing commitment to provide safety and protection to motorists, the AAA Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow home for drinking drivers in Northern California, Nevada, and Utah from 6:00 p.m. on September 5, until 6:00 a.m. on September 6. Members and non-members alike can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to five miles.
“Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,’ and a truck will be on its way,” said Harris. “Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver’s home.”
AAA Gas Saving Tips:
• Keep your tires properly inflated. Every pound of pressure that a tire is under inflated results in a two percent loss in fuel efficiency.
• Don’t use premium fuel if your car does not require it. Check your owner’s manual.
• Observe the speed limit. At speeds above 55 mph, aerodynamic drag increases and fuel
efficiency rapidly decreases.
• Avoid hard acceleration and drive defensively. Try to brake and accelerate smoothly.
• Idling unnecessarily wastes fuel. Most cars today do not need to be warmed up.
• Travel light. A loaded roof rack can decrease fuel economy by five percent.
AAA offers mobile travel information accessible on the devices travelers use every day. The AAA TripTik® Mobile app provides information on gas prices, hotels, restaurants and attractions. Travelers can use the free AAA Mobile Web and also download free iPhone and Android versions of the AAA Discounts and AAA Roadside apps. Three iPhone apps offer access to AAA products and services.
Travel projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed up with AAA as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Travel is the nation’s largest travel organization. AAA Travel offers trips, cruises, tours and vacation packages throughout the world. Call (888) 937-5523 for more information or visit us at your local AAA Travel office or online atwww.aaa.com/travel.
AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, and financial services and consumer discounts to over 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.