Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Heather HunterNearly 30 percent of Americans expected to take a trip this holiday season

ORLANDO, Fla., (Dec. 17, 2013)AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the fifth consecutive year of increases and the highest travel volume recorded for the season. The year-end holiday period is defined as Saturday, December 21 to Wednesday, January 1.

Highlights from this year’s 2013/2014 AAA Year-End Holidays Travel Forecast include:

  • Holiday travel to total 94.5 million, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million who traveled last year.
  • Year-end holiday travel is expected to increase for the fifth consecutive year, reaching a new high since data has been collected by AAA.
  • Ninety-one percent of travelers or 85.8 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.9 percent.
  • Nearly 30 percent (29.7) of all Americans will take a trip this holiday, with more than one in four (27 percent) taking a road trip.
  • Holiday air travel is expected to decline slightly to 5.53 million travelers from 5.61 last year.
  • Median spending expected to increase slightly to $765, compared to $759 last year.

Additional Resources

“While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen Americans will not be Scrooges when it comes to traveling this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “AAA is projecting more Americans to travel than ever before to gather with friends and family, exchange presents and ring in the New Year.”

Only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five percent and that was a decline in 2007 as the recession was just getting started. “Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays,” said Doney.

The overall economic picture remains in the stagnant state that has been present throughout the year. Following the October shutdown and the agreement to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling, the mood of the consumer remains cautious.  The unemployment rate has improved from one year ago, but overall employment levels remain low. Weak economic factors are reflected in all three major measures of consumer optimism which are now below year ago levels.

While key economic factors remain similar to the Thanksgiving period, the calendar is having a positive impact on travel. When the holiday falls on a Wednesday travelers have more flexibility with their travel plans and the option to start their trip earlier or extend through the following weekend. This calendar effect will help spur an increase in holiday travel this year.

With nine in ten holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA makes a timely appeal to everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving particularly when holiday partygoers may risk getting behind the wheel after a festive evening.

According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in five of all licensed drivers, that drink at least occasionally, reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.  The survey also reveals that 96 percent of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable, with 50 percent reporting that drunk drivers are a bigger problem today versus three years ago.  “Despite the ubiquitous warnings about drinking and driving especially during the holiday season, alcohol-related crashes still represent one in three motor vehicle deaths,” said Doney.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and the injuries that can result.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.

AAA expects to rescue 3.76 million motorists during the holiday season

Between December 21 and January 1, AAA expects to come to the rescue of 3.76 million motorists with the primary reasons for breakdowns being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check battery and tire condition and prepare vehicles for winter driving before heading out on a holiday getaway. Car care tips and information are available at AAA.com.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

Gas prices have climbed slightly from the multi-year low of $3.18 per gallon on November 12, but AAA expects most drivers will pay less than a year ago to fill up during the holiday season. Gas prices recently increased because of planned and unplanned maintenance at a number of refineries and seasonally stronger demand for gasoline. Prices should decline by the end of the year due to rising supplies and increased refinery production.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 91 percent of travelers or 85.8 million people plan to travel by automobile during the year-end holidays. This is a 0.9 percent increase over the 85.1 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 1.4 percent as 5.53 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares slightly lower than last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  During Christmas week the average lowest round-trip rate is $199 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $204 last year. Approximately 3.13 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase 13 percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $138 per night compared to $142 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $102 per night, compared to $101 in 2012.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $63, compared to $55 last year.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled is expected to be 805 miles, which is an increase of 45 miles from last year when travelers logged 760 miles.

Median spending increases slightly; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $765 up from $759 last year. Visiting with friends and family (74 percent), Dining (70 percent) and shopping (51 percent) will be the most popular activities.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Year-End Holidays 2013/2014 Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

ORLANDO, Fla., (Nov. 20, 2013)AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year. This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

Highlights from this year’s 2013 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.4 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million who traveled last year
  • Ninety percent of travelers or 38.9 million to travel by automobile, a decline of 1.6 percent
  • Median spending expected to drop nearly seven percent to $465, compared to $498 last year.
  • The Thanksgiving holiday is a less expensive holiday for travelers compared to other holidays. This year Labor Day spending was expected to be $804, Independence Day $749 and Memorial Day $659.
  • Holiday air travel to decline 3.7 percent to 3.14 million travelers from 3.26 million in 2012
  • Average distance traveled to increase to 601 miles from 588 miles.
  • The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips Nov. 27.

Additional Resources

“While the economy continues to improve, the sluggish pace of the recovery is creating uncertainty in the minds of some consumers and therefore AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Thanksgiving travelers this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney.  “For those traveling the good news is motorists will receive a holiday bonus in the form of lower gas prices which are at their lowest levels for the holiday since 2010.”

“The primary focus of Thanksgiving, more so than any other holiday, is to gather with friends, family and loved ones and celebrate with each other. Travelers attempting to carve out a travel budget will be happy to know that Thanksgiving will be the least expensive holiday of the year,” continued Doney.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. The national average is at the cheapest level of the year and should continue to drop in the weeks ahead. Drivers can find stations selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon in the vast majority of states. The decreased cost of gas will provide consumers with real savings that could be used for other purposes on the trip.

Wednesday before the holiday will be busiest travel day

The Thanksgiving holiday is unique falling on a Thursday every year. Many people are off from work the Friday after; giving travelers more time to spend with family and friends.   AAA asked intended travelers which days they would depart for and return from Thanksgiving travel. Among those surveyed, the highest volumes of travelers plan to leave for their trip the Wednesday before the holiday (37 percent) and return the following Sunday (33 percent) with another 24 percent expecting to return on Monday, Dec 2 or later.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 38.9 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 1.6 percent decrease over the 39.5 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 3.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares comparable to last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  For the Thanksgiving holiday the average lowest round-trip rate is $187 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $188 last year. Approximately 1.4 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase six percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $142 per night compared to $143 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $105 per night, compared to $104 in 2012.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $50, compared to $47 last year.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 601 miles, which is an increase of 2.2 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 588 miles.

Median spending down almost seven percent; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $465, a 6.6 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($498) in 2012.

While spending time with friends and relatives and dining are primary activities for nearly all holidays, it is even more relevant for Thanksgiving travelers. Therefore it is not surprising that spending time with family and friends (67 percent) and dining (56 percent) are the most popular activities planned by travelers. Despite lower median spending, nearly half of all travelers (44 percent) plan to shop during the holiday which can be expected given Black Friday occurs during the holiday weekend.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Labor Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

2013 AAA THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY TRAVEL FORECAST

NEWS CONFERENCE NOVEMBER 20, 2013

WHAT:AAA will release its annual Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast during a news conference at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.

  • How will the current state of the economy affect travel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend?
  • How many people will travel and what mode of transportation will they use?
  • What will be the busiest days in the air and on the roadways?
  • Will fuel prices have an impact on Americans traveling during the holiday?
  • Are costs for hotel rooms, rental cars and airline tickets up or down?
  • How much will travelers spend and how far will they travel?
WHO:Marshall L. Doney, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, AAA
WHEN:Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 10:00 a.m. EST
WHERE:Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Upper Concourse, Door 6, at north end of Terminal C

(Adjacent to the glass wall where the media outlets are located)

Please contact the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Public Affairs Office at (703) 417-8370 to make arrangements for parking live media trucks. All other vehicles must park in the garages or economy lot.

 

Heather HunterOverall value is top priority for most travelers when selecting a hotel

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2013) – Selecting a hotel can be an overwhelming task. On vacation your hotel is your home away from home and base of operations.  The right hotel enhances your vacation experience, while the wrong choice can lead to unexpected expenses, inconvenience and frustration. The first step to selecting the perfect hotel for your next trip is determining what is most important to you and your travel companions.

Additional Resources

“Every traveler and every trip is just as varied as the lodging options available,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway, an oceanfront room or a hotel with activities for kids, the right hotel will enhance your vacation experience. A little research goes a long way in successful vacation planning.”

AAA provides travelers with travel booking services and all the travel information needed to make informed decisions. A reservation through AAA can be made using the AAA mobile app, online at AAA.com, by calling a AAA Travel Agent or by stopping by one of the more than 1,000 branch locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Look Beyond the Price Per Night for Best Value

Whether travelers are looking for a budget motel or luxury beach-front resort, they want to be sure they are getting the best property within their budget.  In a recent AAA survey, 85 percent of respondents cited overall value for money as the top consideration for choosing a hotel. Value was cited as an important consideration for all income levels. Eighty-seven percent of respondents with annual household incomes above $100,000 and 84 percent of respondents with annual household incomes below $35,000 selected overall value as a priority, illustrating that no matter the cost or level of the hotel selected, value is key.

AAA Travel also recommends travelers look beyond the price. At AAA.com travelers can examine prices and compare hotels of similar Diamond Ratings. Be sure to investigate fees that are not included in the price such as resort fees or parking charges. Check what facilities are available at the property which will enhance your stay such as a pool, arcade or children’s programs that could save money on entertainment expenses. Be sure to take advantage of any discounts available to you such as AAA discounts available to members at partner hotels.

While expanding the geographic search for a hotel can lower a hotel bill, convenience to attractions or activities is important to 73 percent of respondents when selecting a hotel.  AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner, which is available free at AAA.com, allows travelers to search and book hotels near points of interest.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch Unless it is Stated

Added benefits such as free breakfast (63 percent) and free hi-speed Wi-Fi (51 percent) also ranked as very high considerations when choosing a hotel. Free Wi-Fi is even more important to younger travelers with 71 percent of respondents age 18-34 saying free, high-speed Wi-Fi is a top consideration when choosing a hotel. Wi-Fi access for a family can add a substantial cost when the kids bring along their laptops, tablets and smartphones, while a free breakfast for every travel companion can lower overall vacation costs.  Be sure to check what extra value your hotel choice offers.
Travelers Going Green

Nearly half (48 percent) of women and 18-34 year-olds surveyed said they seek environmentally-friendly programs when selecting a hotel. AAA provides travel planning information to travelers who wish to consider sustainability programs when making travel plans. Currently an ECO icon marks approximately 3,000 eligible lodging listings in the TourBook® guides, TripTik® Travel Planner and on AAA.com.

Research Reward Programs and Pet Policies

Frequent travel programs or points are important to more than one-third (35 percent) of all respondents. Other considerations for selecting a hotel involve the personal needs of travelers including is the hotel pet-friendly (29 percent), does it have a spa (23 percent) or does it have a children’s program (23 percent).

Nearly half (47 percent) of all people with children under age 13 consider a children’s program when booking a hotel.

Showing your loyalty can result in extra savings or free nights on future trips. Consider signing up for a hotel’s reward program from your first stay. Even if you do not plan on staying long enough to earn a free room, some chains offer benefits to participants in loyalty programs right away. Keep your loyalty numbers organized and use them every time you book. Some loyalty programs with AAA partner hotels offer additional benefits to AAA members – be sure to check for details at AAA.com/Travel.

For those travelers who like to bring Fluffy or Fido on the family vacation Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is a great resource.   Available in print and digital versions, The AAA PetBook is updated annually and features more than 14,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and campgrounds that are pet friendly.  Also, this on-the-road guide offers the locations of dog parks and emergency vet clinics, as well as other pet travel advice.

Travelers with pets in tow check should check with the hotel in advance of their stay to confirm pet policies and the cost related to bring your best friend along. Price can vary greatly and some hotels charge a pet fee by the night or one fee for the entire stay. Also ask if there are size or breed limitations and the rules for leaving your pet alone in the room.  The AAA PetBook also includes tips for bringing your pet on vacation. For more information visit http://www.AAA.com/PetBook.

The results of the survey show that Americans expect value and also desire convenience. The assistance of a qualified travel advisor, such as a AAA Travel Agent can help consumers plan the perfect getaway that meets their needs without the frustration of planning. For more information visit www.AAA.com/Travel.

DesmondJordonEntries welcome through Nov. 30 for a chance to star on the next AAA PetBook edition

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept 30, 2013) For the many Americans whose vacations wouldn’t be complete without their favorite fur ball, the annual AAA PetBook Photo Contest offers an opportunity to show off travel photos in a big way. Through Nov. 30, travelers can enter a photo of their traveling pet for a chance to appear on a cover or inside Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®.

For the sixth consecutive year, the AAA PetBook® Photo Contest is sponsored by Best Western, which has more than 1,600 pet-friendly hotels worldwide. AAA judges entries on artistic qualities and ability to convey the joys of safely traveling with a pet. Candid photographs are preferred. Contest rules and entry forms are available on the AAA.com/PetBook website.

First- and second-place contest winners are featured on the back cover and spine of the softcover edition and in the opening pages of the digital edition. More than 40 irresistible finalists are pictured in a photo insert, and winners and finalists are also showcased on the AAA.com/PetBook photo gallery — a virtual brag book for proud pet parents. Additional prizes include cash, pet treats, and copies of the book and, for the first-place winner, a $150 Best Western Travel Card.

For everyone who travels with pets, The AAA PetBook is a must-have resource. The annually updated guide lists more than 14,000 pet-friendly AAA Approved hotels and campgrounds, along with pet travel tips, recreational opportunities and emergency vet clinics.

The softcover edition of Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is available at many AAA and CAA offices and select bookstores with a cover price of $18.95. Digital editions for popular tablets and e-readers are available through online booksellers at a suggested digital price of $9.99.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About Best Western International, Inc.

Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand made up of more than 4,000* BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Now celebrating 67 years of hospitality, Best Western welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests nightly. Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales, marketing and promotional support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 20 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, race car driver Michael Waltrip, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. In 2012, Best Western won a record number of awards, including AAA’s Hotel Partner of the Year, CAA’s Partner of the Year, TravelClick’s eMarketer of the Year and Compuware’s Best of the Web Gold awards.

For more information or to make a reservation, please visit bestwestern.com.

*Numbers are approximate and may fluctuate.

Heather HunterInteractive travel guides in free AAA Mobile app for iPad highlight AAA experts’ recommendations on offerings too good to miss

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 12, 2013) – It’s now easier than ever for AAA members to plan memorable travel experiences and activities, thanks to AAA’s new Top Destinations digital travel guides. Available via a recent update to the iPad version of the free AAA Mobile App, the guides give travelers a fast, fun way to plan their visits to popular destinations.

“These informative, interactive guides provide valuable time- and vacation-saving insight from AAA’s travel experts,” said Bill Wood, executive editor and vice president, AAA Publishing and Travel Information. “Our editors are seasoned travelers who spend their days immersed in travel information, so they’re in a perfect position to steer members to the best experiences and away from potential pitfalls. The guides also make the most of AAA’s mapping expertise, allowing users to switch back and forth from pages to map views.”

Top Destinations guides are available for several popular U.S. cities including Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, San Diego and Tampa, with more titles underway. The guides are loaded with enlargeable photos, colorful maps, insider details and listings for places to stay, dine and play. Users can save their favorites to a ‘trunk’ for later reference and itinerary planning, and they can share ideas through social media.

Travelers can learn about AAA’s Top Destinations travel guides at AAA.com/mobile and download it from the iTunes Store. Everyone who downloads the free app to their iPad or iPad mini can access sample sections of the Top Destinations guides, and those who complete a one-time AAA member registration can access the full versions.

Heather Hunter4.2 percent more Americans plan to travel during final summer holiday

ORLANDO, Fla., (August 20, 2013) – AAA Travel projects 34.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day holiday, a 4.2 percent increase from the 32.7 million people who traveled last year.  The anticipated increase in holiday travel is predominantly due to increased consumer spending and the improving housing market.  The total number of 2013 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 29 to Monday, September 2.

Additional Resources

“AAA is forecasting a lift in Labor Day travel this year due to the increasingly positive economic outlook and optimism in the housing market,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.  “For many Americans, their home is also their biggest asset, as home prices improve in many parts of the country more families are feeling comfortable about traveling this Labor Day holiday.”

Highlights from 2013 AAA Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Labor Day holiday travelers to total 34.1 million, an increase of 4.2 percent from the 32.7 million who traveled last year
  • Eighty-five percent of travelers (29.2 million) to travel by automobile, an increase of 4.3 percent  from 28 million last year
  • Holiday  air travel expected to increase nearly three percent to 2.61 million.
  • The largest share of travelers (46 percent) will depart on Friday, August 30
  • Monday, September  2, is the most popular date of return for holiday trips with 43 percent planning to return that day
  • The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 594 miles and spend $804

“As schools across the nation usher in their next session of students, the Labor Day holiday provides families with the opportunity for one final extended summer weekend getaway,” continued Darbelnet. “AAA reminds drivers as they head out for the holiday and the school year is beginning that safety should remain top of mind. It is important to remain distraction-free and keep their mind on the task of driving.”

Labor-Day-Travel-Forecast-Graphic-FINALAutomobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation

Approximately 29.2 million people (85 percent) plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 4.3 percent from the 28 million who drove last year.

Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor for people in determining whether they will travel this Labor Day. As of mid-August, prices were on average down 2.7 percent per gallon compared to the same time year. The average price for gas on Labor Day 2012 was $3.83 per gallon, the most expensive average ever on record for the holiday. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.54, 18 cents lower than last year.

AAA forecasts gas prices to remain less expensive than last year based on current trends through the middle of August, but there remains the potential for late-summer hurricanes and refinery problems that could send prices higher.

However, gas prices remain at a level most Americans consider too high. Half of U.S. adults consider gas prices to be “too high” when it reaches $3.44 per gallon. Forty-six percent of adults believe gas is too high when it reaches $3.00 per gallon; 61 percent when it reaches $3.50 per gallon; and 90 percent when it reaches $4.00 per gallon.

August 30 busiest travel day as travelers take full advantage of extended weekend

The largest share of travelers (46 percent) on a single day will depart on August 30 and the largest share will return on Monday (43 percent). Eighty-five percent intend to return from their Labor Day trip on Monday, Tuesday, or later.

Air travel to increase slightly

More than 2.61 million leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase (2.8 percent) from last year’s 2.54 million air travelers.  The remaining seven percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

Average travel distance decreases, spending up slightly

According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 594 miles, which is 32 miles less than last year’s average of 626 miles.

Median spending during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to grow to $804, compared to $749 last year.  Travelers expect to spend 24 percent of their budget on transportation and lodging and 21 percent on food and beverages.

During the holiday weekend the most popular activities will be dining (57 percent), visiting with friends/family (46 percent) and shopping (43 percent).

Car rental rates and airfares rise, hotel rates see slight increase for mid-range hotels

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, weekend daily car rental rates will average $51, 32 percent more than last year’s average of $39. Airfares increased four percent year-over-year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $214 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $205 last year. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average $161 per night compared to $154 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels are expected to drop two percent with an average cost of $115 per night.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Labor Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterAAA Approved historic hotels offer travel experiences rich in culture, comfort and adventure

ORLANDO, Fla., (Aug. 6, 2013) – To help travelers connect with our nation’s history, AAA inspectors assembled a list of their favorite historic hotels — structures of notable record or architecture, typically 75 years or older. Artifacts range from an opulent pre-Depression luxury hotel to a flamboyant Old West rail stop to a sprawling mountain resort with a Prohibition speakeasy.

Here are America’s hotel experts’ 10 top picks for evoking an atmosphere of days gone by. Travelers can read about additional AAA Inspectors’ Favorite Historic Hotels on the AAA TravelViews blog, visit AAA’s historic hotels board on Pinterest and find more than 1,500 AAA Approved historic hotel listings on AAA.com.

 

Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, AAA Three Diamond Historic Bed & Breakfast, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Mission-style architecture adds charm to this ocean-view inn, situated on a terraced hillside among picturesque gardens.  Because there is no elevator, be prepared to climb the stairs to get a full perspective of the property. Each step you take unveils yet another hidden seating area, artistic tile work or lush landscaping accent.

 

The Driskill, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Austin, Texas

Opened in 1886 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1969, the hotel offers a spectacular lobby with inlaid marble floors and magnificent woodwork leading to a grand staircase. From the cattle barons of the Old West to LBJ commandeering the hotel to watch election returns to today’s celebrities, guests enjoy superior service and upscale amenities.

 

Fitger’s Inn, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Duluth, Minn.

This renovated Lake Superior brewery houses a historic hotel, an operating brewery, a brewery museum, shops and several restaurants. Guestrooms reflect the elegance of the brewery’s heydays, each unique in décor and size based on the style of building, many with great views of the lake.

 

The Grove Park Inn, AAA Four Diamond Historic Resort Hotel, Asheville, N.C.

Dating from 1913, the Arts and Crafts inspired architecture and interior design are meticulously maintained.  The lobby’s floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces mirror one another across the great hall. Distinguished past guests include the last 10 U.S. presidents, prolific authors and numerous political notables. Patrons enjoy outstanding cuisine, a 40,000-square-foot spa and a magnificent mountain view.

 

The Hermitage Hotel, AAA Five Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Nashville, Tenn.

The stunning 1910 architecture, restored to its grandeur in 2003, marks the building’s exterior and ornate, cathedral-height ceilings in the large open lobby. Impressive marble columns circle the lobby and one-of-a-kind antique furnishings create an environment of pre-Depression prosperity. One area not to miss is the impressive 1930s art deco style men’s room near the restaurant bar. (Women may enter after knocking.)

 

La Posada Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Winslow, Ariz.

A popular stop on the Santa Fe Railroad, the hotel is just down the street from the “corner in Winslow, Arizona” made famous by the Eagles’ lyrics. Guest attractions include the hotel’s art museum, historical exhibits, architecture, gardens and contemporary southwest cuisine from the Turquoise Room. Restorations that began in 1997 include plans to add a million dollar garden to fulfill a dream of the original designer, Mary Colter.

 

Lake Quinault Lodge, AAA Two Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Quinault, Wash.

This 1926 hotel where President Franklin D. Roosevelt once dined offers guestrooms with the smaller, sparser furnishings of an era when the idea was to spend time hiking in the rain forest or paddling at sunrise on the glass smooth lake. Guests can curl up next to the lobby’s roaring fire, relax in Adirondack chairs at sunset or casually stroll the rolling lawn.

 

The Occidental Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Buffalo, Wyo.

The Wild West comes to life with embossed ceilings, mounted animal trophies and antiques. Calamity Jane, Butch Cassidy, Teddy Roosevelt and members of the Hole in the Wall Gang stayed here. Each guestroom features a unique theme. The hotel, a restaurant and saloon featuring the original back bar plus a complex of storefronts comprise a city block.

 

Omni Mount Washington Hotel, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Bretton Woods, N.H.

Among its many historical claims is The Cave, a Prohibition-era speakeasy still operating as a bar and an octagon-shaped dining room designed to avoid seating any guest ‘in the corner.’ The property is renowned for hosting the 1944 Bretton Woods Monetary Conference that resulted in the creation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. From a distance, travelers note the stately structure’s distinctive red roof atop pristine-white stucco masonry and local granite, set against a backdrop of the White Mountains.

 

Strater Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Durango, Colo.

Steeped in history, this downtown landmark delivers world-class accommodations and hospitality. Employees in period costume add a sense of stepping back in time to your visit. The 93 Victorian-style rooms are filled with walnut antiques and period wallpapers. Western history enthusiasts enjoy the beautiful lobby, lounges and public space. Other offerings include fine dining, nightly live entertainment and live theatre performances.

 

The Willard InterContinental, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Opened in 1901, this time-honored hotel features rich, eye-catching Beaux Arts architecture. It was while staying here that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put the finishing touches to his “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1968 the hotel closed and fell into disrepair.  Demolition was averted by a developer who restored and reopened the hotel in 1986 to provide luxurious accommodations and a high level of personal services.

 

About AAA Inspections and Historic Hotels

AAA offers the only rating program that conducts comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with far more approved properties than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Travelers can find AAA Diamond Rated establishments across AAA’s online, mobile and printed travel information products.

 

Hotels classified as historic are typically 75 years or older with historic architecture, design, furnishings, public record or acclaim and at least one of the following: maintains integrity of historical nature, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, designated a National Historic Landmark or located in a National Register Historic District.

 

Heather Hunter

Originally released June 20, 2013

Shorter holiday travel period expected to result in 0.8 percent fewer American travelers this year

ORLANDO, Fla.,  – AAA Travel projects 40.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday, a 0.8 percent decrease from the 41.1 million people who traveled last year.  The anticipated decline in holiday travel is predominantly due to a shorter holiday period. With the Fourth of July landing on a Thursday this year, the holiday period has returned to the standard five-day holiday, compared to the six-day period in 2012 when the holiday fell on a Wednesday. Decade-high travel volume occurred in 2007 when 42.3 million Americans traveled and the holiday also fell on a Wednesday.  The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7.

Additional Resources

“This year nearly 41 million Americans plan to celebrate the nation’s birthday with a getaway, a slight decline from last year,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.  “This projection is due to the calendar effect of one fewer day in the holiday period and economic growth that is not robust enough to offset the impact of the sequester and the effect of the end of the payroll tax cut on American families.”

Highlights from 2013 AAA Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Independence Day holiday travelers to total 40.8 million, a decrease of 0.8 percent from the 41.1 million who traveled last year
  • Eighty-four percent of travelers (34.4 million) to travel by automobile, a decrease of 0.7 percent  from 34.7 million last year
  • Holiday air travel expected to increase slightly to 3.07 million from 3.06 million in 2012
  • Independence Day holiday travel volume is expected to remain above the 13-year average of 38.9 million for this holiday
  • The largest share of travelers (32 percent) will depart on Wednesday, July 3
  • Sunday, July 7, is the most popular date of return for holiday trips with 38 percent planning to return that day
  • The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 613 miles and spend $747

“Independence Day is typically the busiest holiday of the summer travel season with six million more Americans traveling than Memorial Day just two months ago. The Fourth of July benefits from the fact that all schools across the nation are out of session, making it truly a time for family fun,” continued Darbelnet.

July 3 and 7 busiest travel days

This year 46 percent of intending travelers plan to begin their trip prior to the start of the holiday travel period (July 3-7), compared to 65 percent last year. The largest share of travelers (32 percent) on a single day will depart on July 3 and the largest share will return on July 7 (38 percent). Thirty-four percent intend to stretch their holiday vacation into the following week returning on or after Monday, July 8.

Automobile travel declines, remains dominant mode of transportation

Approximately 34.4 million people (84 percent) plan to drive to their destination, a decrease of 0.7 percent from the 34.7 million who drove last year.

“AAA also reminds drivers as they head out for the holiday that it is important to keep their mind on the task of driving,” said Darbelnet. “Mental distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them. It is not sufficient to have our hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, we also need our minds on driving.”

Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor in travel decisions this holiday. As of mid-June, prices were on average up two percent compared to the same time in 2012. Despite the slight increase compared to last year, prices remain below their highs of earlier this year. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.60, 10 cents higher than last year.

However, gas prices remain at a level most Americans consider too high. Half of U.S. adults consider gas prices to be “too high” when it reaches $3.44 per gallon, according to a new consumer index developed by AAA. Forty-six percent of adults believe gas is too high when it reaches $3.00 per gallon; 61 percent when it reaches $3.50 per gallon; and 90 percent when it reaches $4.00 per gallon. Sixty-two percent of Americans are offsetting high gas prices by changing their driving habits or lifestyle.

Air travel to increase slightly

More than 3.07 million leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase from last year’s 3.06 million air travelers.  The remaining eight percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

Average travel distance decreases, spending relatively unchanged

According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be 613 miles, which is 110 miles less than last year’s average of 723 miles. The decline is likely reflective of the shorter holiday period.

Median spending during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be $747, compared to $749 last year. Transportation is expected to consume approximately 29 cents of every dollar. Travelers expect to spend 20 percent on food and beverage and 22 percent on lodging.

During the holiday weekend the most popular activities will be visiting with friends/family (57 percent), dining (49 percent) and shopping (44 percent). Other popular activities include going to the beach and sightseeing (36 percent) and 28 percent will celebrate the nation by visiting a national park or historic sites (21 percent).

Car rental and hotel rates and airfares rise

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase over four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average $164 per night compared to $158 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels are expected to increase two percent with an average cost of $119 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $58, 29 percent more than last year’s average of $45. Airfares increased six percent with an average lowest round-trip rate of $228 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $215 last year.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, Android and iPad uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel,  and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight Independence Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterSurvey examines summer travel plans, identifying top priorities and key frustrations for travelers

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 2, 2013) – As the weather gets warmer and children finish the school year, many Americans are planning summer getaways. A new AAA survey reveals that two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. adults plan to take a leisure trip between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.   Those planning to travel, will hit the road a few times, averaging 3.5 trips during the summer months.  Additional findings from the survey also reveal that family and value are top priorities while unexpected expenses and finding time to take the perfect trip are the biggest frustrations.

Two-thirds to travel, one-third plan multi-generational trips

Sixty-six percent of Americans plan to take a least one trip during the summer travel season, with many planning to travel more than once. With an average of 3.5 trips among those traveling, 22 percent are planning one trip,   16 percent are planning two trips and the 29 percent are planning three or more trips between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Many travelers will also use these vacations as a time to build family bonds with nearly one in three (32 percent) of respondents plan to take a multi-generational trip in the next 12 months. For one-quarter of Americans the multi-generational trip will include both their children and their parents or their partner’s parents.

Top travel frustrations

The survey, fielded in April, shows that while value continues to be a top priority for travelers, 58 percent of respondents ranked unexpected expenses that can make developing a travel budget difficult the top vacation frustration. Additionally, finding the time to take the perfect vacation came in as the second largest travel frustration and finding the best price for lodging and transportation was third.  The full results of travel frustrations are listed below:

  • Unexpected expenses such as airline fees, resort fees or parking (58 percent)
  • Finding the time to take the perfect trip (52 percent)
  • Finding the best price for lodging and transportation (49 percent)
  • Airport security lines (45 percent)
  • Crowds at your destination (43 percent)
  • Packing for your vacation (27 percent)
  • Family arguments about where to go and what to do (21 percent)

Top considerations for choosing a hotel

Survey respondents continued to reiterate the importance of value as 85 percent of respondents cited overall value   as a top consideration for choosing a hotel. Added benefits such as free breakfast (63 percent) and free hi-speed Wi-Fi (51 percent) also ranked very high. When surveyed, 44 percent of respondents said they seek environmentally-friendly programs when selecting a hotel. The full results of top considerations when choosing a hotel are listed below:

Overall value for money (85 percent)

Convenience to attractions or activities (73 percent)

Free breakfast (63 percent)

Free, high speed Wi-Fi (51 percent)

Environmentally-friendly programs 44 percent)

Frequent travel programs or points (35 percent)

Pet-friendly (29 percent)

A spa (23 percent)

Children’s programs (23 percent)

The results of the survey show that Americans continue to prioritize travel, however they expect value and also desire convenience. The assistance a qualified travel agent, such as a AAA Travel Counselor can help consumers plan the perfect getaway that meets their need without the frustration of planning. For more information visit www.AAA.com/travel.

AAA provides travel planning information to travelers who wish to consider sustainability programs when making travel plans. Currently an ECO icon marks approximately 3,000 eligible lodging listings in the TourBook® guides, TripTik® Travel Planner and on AAA.com.

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