Posts Tagged ‘AAA Travel’

JulieHall

Busy year-end holidays will be marked by more travelers than ever on record

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 16, 2014) – AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the highest forecast growth rate for the year-end holiday season since 2009 and the highest travel volume for the holiday period on record. (AAA data dates back to 2001.) The year-end holiday period is defined as Tuesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 4.

Highlights from 2014/2015 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast:

  • Holiday travel is expected to total 98.6 million, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million who traveled last year.
  • Travel volume for the year-end holidays will reach the highest peak recorded by AAA (since 2001).
  • Nearly 91 percent of all travelers (89.5 million) will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2013.
  • Air travel is forecast to grow one percent from 2013, with 5.7 million travelers taking to the skies.
  • Low gas prices continue to help boost disposable income this holiday season, with today’s national average price of gas at $2.53 per gallon, 70 cents less than a year ago.

Additional Resources

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will join with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President and Chief Operating Officer. “While the economy continues to improve at an uneven pace, it seems more Americans are looking forward with increasing consumer confidence, rather than looking back at the recession. This is helping to drive expected travel volumes to the highest level we have seen for the year-end holidays.”

“Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009,” continued Doney. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year.”

The calendar is having a positive effect on the number of travelers expected this year. This year the holidays land on a Thursday, creating a holiday travel season that is one day longer than last year’s and the longest since 2008, offering travelers more options for departures and return trips. This flexibility makes it possible for more people to fit holiday travel into their schedules.

With more than 90 percent of holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA urges everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving. According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in eight of all licensed drivers who 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 91 percent of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable, with 42 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, an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death occurs every 45 minutes,” said Doney.

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

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

Today’s national average price of gasoline is at the lowest level in five years and 70 cents lower than last year, a welcome gift for holiday travelers. Gas prices have fallen for 82 days in a row, helping to increase Americans’ disposable income 3.5 percent from year-ago levels, which has had a positive effect on travel.

Hotel, car rental rates rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $138 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen five percent with an average cost of $108 per night. Daily car rental rates will average $66, four percent higher than last year.

Airfares fall seven percent this year, driven by low-cost carriers

Average discounted round-trip airfares across 40 top domestic routes are expected to fall seven percent this year, to $186. This is influenced by the availability of discounted rates from low-cost carriers in several top markets. AAA encourages travelers to consider the full cost of a ticket when purchasing air travel, as many airlines charge ancillary fees for checked bags, meals, priority boarding and seat assignments.

AAA expects to rescue 1.1 million motorists this holiday season

Between December 23 and January 4, AAA expects to come to the rescue of more than 1.1 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.

AAA offers travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the 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 collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.

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 2014 Year-End 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. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

 

Pump Prices Likely Below $2.50 by Christmas

December 15th, 2014 by admin

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, December 15, 2014) Holiday cheer has come early for the motoring public, with the average for retail gasoline at its lowest level in more than five years. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.55 per gallon. The average price at the pump is more than a dime (-12 cents) less than one week ago and more than a quarter (-36 cents) less than a month ago. The national average is down 69 cents from this same date last year and has now dropped on 81 consecutive days for a total of 80 cents during this stretch. Motorists are paying $1.15 less than the peak 2014 price, which was $3.70 on April 8. AAA estimates drivers are saving more than $400 million dollars each day compared to the high prices paid earlier this year.

 Avg-Gas-Prices-2011-2014

The average price at the pump has fallen nearly 25 percent since the start of the year, and if the global price of crude continues to register new multiyear lows, these lower prices are likely to persist. Barring any unexpected spikes in global prices, or declines in domestic production, the price at the pump should remain relatively low approaching the New Year and into 2015.

Every state in the continental United States is posting an average price below the $3.00 per gallon benchmark. Hawaii ($3.70) and Alaska ($3.39), as is often the case, are the nation’s most expensive markets for retail gasoline and of the lower 48 states drivers in the northeast are paying the most per gallon:  New York ($2.98), Connecticut ($2.90) and Washington, D.C. ($2.90). The nation’s least expensive markets are the Midwestern states of Missouri ($2.25) and Oklahoma ($2.29), closely followed by the Gulf Coast states of Texas ($2.33) and Mississippi ($2.33).

 10-least-Expensive-Avg-Gas-Prices-12-15-14

The impact of falling global oil prices for consumers is abundantly clear in the retail gasoline market with prices lower nationwide on the week, month and year. The price at the pump is down by a nickel or more week-over-week in every state and Washington, D.C. Forty-one states are registering savings of a dime or more, and the most dramatic savings are in Idaho (-22 cents), Michigan (-20 cents), Ohio (-19 cents) and Indiana (-19 cents). Drivers in Michigan (-56 cents), Idaho (-54 cents) Indiana (-51 cents) and South Dakota (-50 cents) are saving the most on a month-over-month basis. The price in every state has dropped by twenty cents or more during this span.

Yearly comparisons continue to reflect even more extreme discounts at the pump, largely due to the price of crude setting new multi-year lows.  With the exception of Hawaii (-22 cents) and Alaska (-29 cents), the price at the pump is down in every state and Washington, D.C. by more than 35 cents versus this same date last year. Forty-two states are posting a discount of 50 cents or more per gallon year-over-year and drivers in 20 states are saving 70 cents or more. The largest savings are in Florida (-80 cents), Maine (-79 cents) and Kentucky (-79 cents).

 Top10-Weekly-Savings-12-15-14

Concerns of sluggish global oil demand combined with abundant supply continue to leave global oil markets searching for a bottom. Just two months ago market watchers were divided on the likelihood that the prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) would fall below $80 per barrel. Last week, for the first time since 2009, the price of WTI dropped below $60. WTI is now approximately 40 percent cheaper than the start of the year and nearly 50 percent below the high in June ($107.26). The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continues to maintain production levels, and the cartel’s three biggest members are reportedly ramping up exports to Asia in an effort to sustain market share in that region. Reductions in global oil prices have ultimately meant a welcome savings at the pump for motorists; however sustained low prices could impact U.S. production, which is more expensive than its global counterparts. Market watchers are also beginning to consider the potential for geopolitical instability in countries that are heavily dependent on oil exports to balance their budgets, including Venezuela and Nigeria. WTI was down $2.14 to settle at $57.81 per barrel on Friday at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX.

JulieHallImproving Economy Brings 1.9 Million More Travelers, Consumers Pay Lowest Thanksgiving Gas Prices in Five Years

Additional Resources

ORLANDO, Fla., (November 20, 2014) – AAA Travel projects 46.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2007 and a 4.2 percent increase over 2013. Almost 90 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will celebrate the holiday with a road trip and likely will enjoy the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 26 through Sunday, November 30.

Highlights from 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast:

  • Thanksgiving holiday travel volume is expected to reach the highest level since 2007, with 46.3 million Americans taking a trip.
  • The 2014 forecast is 4.2 percent higher than the 44.4 million Americans who traveled last year and the greatest growth rate for any holiday since Independence Day 2012.
  • Road trippers likely will pay the lowest Thanksgiving price for fuel in five years. Today’s national average price of gas is $2.85 per gallon, which is 43 cents lower than the average price for Thanksgiving a year ago ($3.28 per gallon).
  • More than 89 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will travel by automobile, a 4.3 percent increase from 39.6 million last year.
  • Air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to be at the highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies.
  • Travelers will encounter moderately higher prices with airfares one percent higher, mid-range hotels up eight percent and car rentals costing 10 percent more.
  • The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend.

“This year, more Americans will give thanks for the opportunity to travel to friends and family than any year since 2007,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President and Chief Operating Officer. “Americans are more optimistic about the future as improvements in several key economic factors, including employment, GDP and disposable income, are boosting consumer confidence and the desire to travel.”

“Holiday joy has come early this year with Americans likely to pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2009. Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving,” continued Doney.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

The national price of gasoline has fallen below $3.00 per gallon for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers likely will pay the cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. More than 89 percent (41.3 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 4.3 percent increase from 2013.

Travel expenses rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase eight percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $142 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $114 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $55, 10 percent higher than last year. Airfares will only increase one percent, with an average discounted round-trip rate of $189 across 40 top domestic routes.

Most of travelers’ budgets go toward transportation, food and shopping

Travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the course of their holiday travels. Despite lower average gas prices, travelers are allocating 31 percent of their budgets to fuel transportation. Food and beverage and shopping will account for 22 percent and 20 percent of holiday travel budgets, respectively.

Travelers’ spending plans mirror their intended activities this Thanksgiving, with 70 percent of travelers reporting they will enjoy dining during their vacation and 59 percent will go shopping. Eighty-nine percent of travelers plan to spend time with friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA offers travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the 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 collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.

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 2014 Thanksgiving 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. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

Heather HunterSmiles, safety and scenery mark top contenders for publication cover fame

ORLANDO, Fla., (Aug. 26, 2014) Are you one of the many Americans who take your pets on vacation?  Whether your favorite fur ball prefers hiking, boating or some other pursuit, capture the fun and enter your best shot by November 30 for a chance to show off your pet in a big way.

For the seventh consecutive year, the AAA PetBook Photo Contest is sponsored by Best Western, which has more than 1,600 pet-friendly hotels worldwide. Photos are judged on the ability to convey the joys of traveling safely with pets, along with artistic qualities. “Pets who are naturally happy when on-the-go can make excellent photo subjects at scenic destinations,” said PetBook Product Manager Sara Demko. “The challenge is to combine all of the contest attributes — joy, safety and travel — in one clear, well-lit image.”

“When snapping photos or choosing one to enter, contest participants can improve their results by running through a quick checklist,” added Demko. “First, be sure to photograph pets from the front to show their facial features and emotions. Ensure they’re wearing appropriate harnesses or safety vests for the situation. Picture them in a vacation setting, and look for an angle that separates your pet’s coloring from the background. And make sure the lighting and resolution are strong enough to show details.” Tips, contest rules and entry forms are provided at AAA.com/PetBook, along with plenty of examples in the contest photo gallery.

First- and second-place contest winners grace the back cover and spine of Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®, and more than 40 finalists are pictured inside the book. Winner and finalist photos are also showcased on the AAA.com/PetBook photo gallery — a virtual brag book for proud pet parents. Additional prizes include cash, pet treats, copies of the book and, for the first-place winner, a $150 Best Western Travel Card.

For everyone who travels with pets throughout the U.S. and Canada, The AAA PetBook is a must-have resource. The annually updated guide provides detailed listings — including pet policies, amenities and fees —for more than 13,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels, plus more than 800 pet-friendly campgrounds. Listings also include nearly 700 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants that welcome pets in outside dining areas. For recreation planning, the book lists national public lands and attractions that allow pets and 300 dog parks in popular travel destinations. Tips for first-time and seasoned pet travelers address packing suggestions, pet etiquette, border crossing and emergency vet clinics.

Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is available at many AAA and CAA offices at discounted member prices and select bookstores with a cover price of $18.95. The current edition is also available in digital formats for popular tablets and e-readers 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 68 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, Minor League Baseball, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. In 2013, Best Western earned our highest level of brand recognition, including our fifth AAA/CAA Hotel Partner of the Year award, second Compuware Best of the Web Gold award, fourth No. 1 ranking in Brand Keys Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index for midscale hotels and seventh TTG Asia Best Mid-range Hotel Brand. Forty-one percent of Best Western hotels worldwide won TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence for customer satisfaction.

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

Heather HunterLabor market improvements and positive consumer expectations drive 1.3 percent increase in holiday travelers

ORLANDO, Fla., (August 21, 2014) – AAA Travel projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a 1.3 percent increase over 2013. Nearly 86 percent of travelers (29.7 million) will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip before summer comes to a close and children head back to school. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 28 to Monday, September 1.

Highlights from 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Historically, when Labor Day weekend begins in August, Americans have shown a higher tendency to travel.
  • Consumer spending has surpassed income growth, indicating that Americans are willing to take on debt to finance a vacation.
  • Automobile travel will increase by 1.4 percent this year, with 29.7 million travelers hitting the road.
  • Nearly eight percent of travelers (2.65 million) will travel by air, a one percent increase from last year.
  • Travelers will encounter airfares just two percent higher than last year and daily car rental costs that remain consistent at $51.
  • Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are nine percent higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are six percent more.

Additional Resources

“As the economy makes modest gains, more Americans are joining the labor force this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “With Labor Day symbolizing the American workers’ contributions to the strength and prosperity of our country, it’s only fitting that millions are choosing to celebrate this positive direction with an all-American road trip.”

Consumer spending is continuing to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. In the third quarter of this year spending is expected to increase 3.8 percent year-over-year, while disposable personal income is only expected to increase 1.4 percent. Reliance on credit cards, rather than increasing income, is fueling holiday travel spending this year. While economic growth is slow, consumers are feeling more comfortable taking on debt.

“This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation,” continued Doney.  “Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year.”

Travelers likely to pay lower gas prices for Labor Day

Most U.S. consumers are paying the lowest gas prices for early August since 2010. AAA expects gas prices to have little impact on the number of people traveling for Labor Day, though lower prices could help make travel more affordable.  Barring a major development, such as a Gulf Coast hurricane, prices are likely to remain relatively low leading up to the holiday weekend compared to recent years, which will allow travelers to allocate more of their budgets towards travel expenses. The current price of gas is $3.44 compared to $3.59 on Labor Day last year. AAA provides the latest gas prices for the nation, states and metro areas at FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com.

Airfare and hotel costs rise, car rental fees flat

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase six percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $171 per night compared to $161 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $125 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $51, the same as last year. Airfares have risen two percent with the average round-trip, discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $219, up from $214 last year.

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 cities, like the award-winning Las Vegas title, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android offers GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for 10 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. More information including an infographic for the AAA / IHS Global Insight 2014 Labor Day 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.

Yolanda Cade(HEATHROW, May 21, 2014) Today’s proposed fee-disclosure requirements from the U.S. Department of Transportation will lead to a better-informed traveling public and should enable travelers to better plan and budget for vacation travel.  AAA supports the proposed steps to increase fare transparency, which is essential regardless of where a customer chooses to purchase a ticket. Currently, fees for additional services are often difficult to determine when searching for airfares and as a result, many consumers are unable to understand the true cost of travel before purchasing a ticket.  As one of the largest leisure travel agencies in the United States, AAA supports the requirements. With the Memorial Day weekend approaching AAA is projecting that 2.6 million leisure travelers will take to the skies to kick off summer with a getaway. Those travelers provide a good reminder about the popularity of air travel and the importance of good information for consumers.

Heather HunterAAA projects more than 36 million Americans to travel for the holiday

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 16, 2014) – AAA Travel projects 36.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year.  Kicking off the summer driving season, more than eight in ten travelers will be driving to their destinations.  The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26.

Additional Resources

Highlights from 2014 Memorial Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Memorial Day holiday travel volume is expected to reach a new post-recession high with 36.1  million Americans taking a trip
  • The 2014 forecast is 2.6 percent higher than the ten-year historical average and the second highest travel volume since 2000
  • Eighty-eight percent of travelers (31.8 million) to travel by automobile, an increase from 31.4 million last year
  • Holiday air travel expected to increase from 2.4 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers
  • Travel by other modes of transportation including cruise, trains and buses will see the largest increase, up 6.5 percent (total 1.7 million travelers)
  • Travelers will encounter slightly higher prices with airfares six percent higher, mid-range hotels up two percent and car rentals costing one percent more

“As we enter into the summer travel season with warmer temperatures and tulips in bloom, thoughts of historic cold are still fresh in the minds of Americans in many parts of the country,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA Chief Operating Officer. “The winter blues appear to have given Americans the travel bug and a case of cruise cabin fever as travel for the holiday is expected to hit a new post-recession high.”

In addition to seasonal rising temperatures, improvements in several key economic factors are driving the expectation for more holiday travelers this year. “As the economy continues to improve at a slow and steady pace consumer spending, disposable income, consumer confidence and the employment outlook are trending up which is welcomed news for the travel industry,” continued Doney.

The unforgiving winter was a hindrance to economic growth at the beginning of the year but economic factors influenced by weather, such as car and home sales, appear to be resolving themselves now.  Indicative of the unusually harsh winter, AAA experienced an increase of nearly 12 percent in battery related calls this winter.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA expects that most drivers will pay lower gas prices by Memorial Day weekend due to rising supplies. AAA expects holiday gas prices to be relatively similar or even slightly less than last year’s national Memorial Day average of $3.63 per gallon, though unexpected developments such as refinery problems or international events could result in higher costs. With many plans already made and budgets set, it is unlikely that gas prices will have a significant effect on travel plans compared to a year ago.

Travel expenses rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase just two percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $169 per night compared to $166 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen three percent with an average cost of $124 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $44, only one percent higher than last year. Airfares are experiencing the largest increase. The average round-trip, discounted fares for the top 40 U.S. routes have increased six percent to $227 from $215 last year.

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 10 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 2014 Memorial Day 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 HunterCozy cafes and simple eateries coast to coast beckon locals and travelers with down-home favorites like pot pies and skillet scrambles 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Feb. 4, 2014) Some of the most exciting aspects of travel are seeing new sights, experiencing different cultures and sampling unfamiliar cuisines. Yet every now and then, even the most die-hard road warrior can become a bit homesick. That’s when just the sight and smells of favorite dishes can make everything seem much, much better.  AAA inspectors, who each year experience hundreds of restaurants, share 10 of their favorite places to enjoy a taste of home.

Travelers can read about nearly 70 AAA Inspector Picks for Favorite Comfort Food Restaurants on the AAA TravelViews blog, and explore thousands of additional restaurants in the AAA.com Travel Guides.

American Flatbread, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Pizza, Burlington, Vt.

Red and white checkered table cloths. Warmth emanating from the wood-fired earthen oven in the corner of the dining room. This is where comfort comes to relax. Ask for a table near the kitchen and watch as flatbread pizzas are expertly prepared in a mesmerizing show. Ingredients are seasonal, organic and locally grown, a true reflection of many Vermonters’ healthy lifestyle. It’s a block from the Flynn Theater, perfect for before a show.

Angie’s Waterloo, AAA/CAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Canadian, Waterloo, Ontario

A great place to enjoy real country hospitality and tasty home-style fare. A local favorite since 1962, the restaurant covers its walls with newspaper clippings of local events and family photos. The scent of fresh baked pies, breads and cookies rouses one’s appetite. The country breakfasts, fish and chips and daily specials make this multi-generational institution a tradition for many.

Big Pink, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Miami Beach, Fla.

“Real Food for Real People…Really” is the motto here, a fixture on Miami Beach since 1996. Everything on the menu is super-sized, so make room in your refrigerator for leftovers.  Try the Big Pink TV dinner daily special, the Thanksgiving on a roll or the mouthwatering foot-long hot dog made with Kobe beef. The tables are chock-a-block close, so get cozy and don’t be surprised if a neighboring diner asks for a smidgen of your peanut butter s’mores. A great place to people watch, especially in the early morning hours after a long night out.

Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant, AAA Two Diamond, Family Dining/American, Bryce Canyon City, Utah

For over 50 years, travelers have been waking up to traditional, country-style breakfasts in front of an old wood stove at this rustic cottage complex. Primarily known for its homemade soups and pies, the daily menu offers generous portions of basic American fare like cowboy steaks, fresh local trout and chicken fried steak. Locals swear by a rule to eat dessert first — and why not with one of the largest selections of homemade pie around!

Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Comfort Food, Gahanna, Ohio

This smartly-styled retro diner, appointed with mosaic tile floors, futuristic light fixtures and stainless steel walls, is an excellent place for generous portions of comfort foods. There are usually several soups available, but one can always expect steak and bean chili. A good choice for a hearty entrée is the meatloaf stack, served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, onion rings and barbecued gravy. Another delicious option is the Southern fried chicken. Worthy desserts include the “Seriously Big Chocolate Cake” and “24K Carrot Cake.”

Georgia Brown’s, AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/Regional American, Washington, D.C.

This stylish restaurant serves up contemporary Southern cooking, with an emphasis on the Low Country of South Carolina, right in the heart of the city.  The menu boasts down-home dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, country-fried meatloaf, sour mash pork chops, cornmeal-fried catfish and twice-cooked pork shank with sweet potato cheese grits. Enjoy live jazz every Wednesday night, “’Cause it’s been said that she knocks ‘em dead … ooooh sweet Georgia Brown!” as the song lyrics say. Valet parking available for dinner only.

La Palma Chicken Pie Shop & Restaurant, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/American, Anaheim, Calif.

As you enter the front door the aroma of fresh-baked pies quickly alerts your senses to the down-home cooking you are about to enjoy. Start with piping hot chicken noodle soup or chicken pie. Fried chicken is always a good bet but, whatever you choose, don’t leave without a slice of — you guessed it — homemade fruit pie.  Decorative roosters and hens adorn every inch of free space. Seating includes tables and benches, with plenty of paper napkins to help wipe the deliciousness off your face.

The Meatball Shop, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/ Italian Comfort Food, New York, N.Y.

What could be more comforting than a meatball? This popular little place in Greenwich Village serves up some of the best, whether it is straight ground beef, spicy pork, chicken or even veggie topped with tomato sauce, mushroom gravy or parmesan cream. To up the comfort level, order them as meatball sliders. Despite the many “ball” options, they keep it casual here; no reservations are taken, so arrive early to avoid a wait.

The Moose Cafe, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/Southern, Asheville, N.C.

Perched on a rise and offering a panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains, you’ll feel right at home the moment you step foot inside. Grab a seat and tear into a plate of hot, flaky biscuits, served with homemade apple butter, sorghum and honey. Order up a sweet tea served in a mason jar, setting the tone for the Southern delicacies to follow. The café is adjacent to a farmer’s market, so when the vegetables are at their peak, they are on your table for authentic ‘farm to table’ dining, nestled away in the Carolina mountains.

Salt Lick Bar-B-Q, AAA One Diamond, Casual Dining/BBQ, Driftwood, Texas

“You can smell our pits from miles away!” With a slogan like that, you’d better deliver – and the Salt Lick Bar-B-Q surely does. If you get a chance to swing by the original location in Driftwood, you’re in for great time and a great meal.  This popular fun spot serves brisket, pork and beef ribs, sausage, chicken and turkey. For lighter fare choose a sandwich, or tip the scale the other direction with the all-you-can-eat family style extravaganza.

About AAA Inspections

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.

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.

Heather Hunter

Travel agency honored for dedication to partnership that creates unique and memorable vacations for AAA members

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 22, 2014) – AAA Travel, one of the largest leisure travel agencies in North America, was recently honored by Royal Caribbean International with the Loyal to Royal Consortia Partner of the Year award. The award recognizes AAA as top performing travel agents and for commitment to the cruise line. Royal Caribbean is a AAA preferred partner and as such offers members exclusive benefits and discounts through AAA Travel.

“We are honored to be recognized with the award that demonstrates the strength of our partnership,” said William Sutherland, AAA vice president, travel services. “As a preferred partner Royal Caribbean has demonstrated strong dedication and commitment to providing AAA members with exciting travel experiences.”

“We are thrilled to name AAA as Royal Caribbean 2014 Consortia Partner of the Year,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Services, Royal Caribbean International. “AAA is committed to this partnership and we thank all AAA travel agents for having the confidence in Royal Caribbean to book their clients on our ships and their important role in creating WOW vacations.”

In addition to the Consortia Partner of the Year award, AAA Carolinas was named Royal Caribbean’s Southeast Region Partner of the Year. Late last year Royal Caribbean was named AAA’s Cruise Partner of the year.

Loyal to You Always is Royal Caribbean’s historical commitment of unwavering support for travel agents and helping them increase profits and grow their businesses. Loyal to You Always is built on four principles: Personal interaction and support; Valuable resources that get results; increasing profits for travel agents; and Award-winning travel agent education and development programs.

More than 1,000 accredited, full-service travel agency offices are located in the United States and Canada to serve members and the public. AAA Travel services include the sale of worldwide air, cruise and rail tickets; escorted tours and independent tour arrangements; hotel and car rental reservations, a variety of travel insurance programs and the AAA branded product, AAA Vacations®, designed for members offering exciting itineraries, engaging experiences and exclusive values.

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 45-year legacy

of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike. Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE:RCL), the cruise line sails 21 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand.

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.

Only 124 luxurious hotels and 59 world-class restaurants across North America were selected to receive the travel authority’s highest property rating

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 17, 2014) – Today AAA announced the 183 select establishments that earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2014 Five Diamond Award® lists. This exclusive group represents just 0.3 percent of the 59,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. Five Diamond establishments stand apart using highly personalized approaches and creativity to enhance guest comfort and provide memorable experiences.

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As a result of this year’s additions, Chicago is now on par with New York City in its wealth of fine dining options, each home to seven Five Diamond restaurants. To the north, Québec now boasts Canada’s highest concentration of Five Diamond establishments, with four restaurants and one hotel.

New Five Diamond Hotels (6):

Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.

Wynn Tower Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.

Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah

Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, Canada

Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico

Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

New Five Diamond Restaurants (8):

The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.

Acadia, Chicago, Ill.

Grace Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.

Sixteen, Chicago, Ill.

Per Se, New York, N.Y.

Restaurant La Tanière, Québec, Canada

Restaurant Le Patriarche, Québec, Canada

Cocina de Autor, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

AAA inspectors collectively visit some 1,200 hotels and restaurants each week, allowing them to identify emerging trends in the industry. “At the ultra-luxury hotel level we’ve noted a move toward minimalism in design but not overall experience,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development, “and an emphasis on privacy and intimacy with options like in-room fitness, private butler service and spa-like bathrooms. Guests enjoy highly personalized, learning-oriented experiences worthy of immediate sharing through digital channels.”

Inspectors have also observed a continuing evolution in the nature of fine dining. “Reservations are increasingly hard to get as formality is reduced in favor of greater creativity and attention to food sourcing,” said Petrone. “Innovative chefs handcraft artisanal menus featuring local, fresh and healthy ingredients. Increasingly educated guests focus more on the quality and origin of cuisine rather than complex presentations. A knowledgeable staff that can facilitate a memorable dining experience is paramount.”

“Attaining the Five Diamond rating is not an easy undertaking,” said Petrone. “Establishments at this level must consistently provide an unparalleled guest environment and experience.” Candidates for the rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Inspectors meticulously evaluate guest services and physical attributes, closely examining the level of competence, refinement and hospitality, from reservations to checkout for hotels and from seating to presentation for restaurants.

Noteworthy for 2014:

  • Chicago gained three Five Diamond restaurants: Acadia, Grace Restaurant and Sixteen, bringing its total to seven, on par with New York City.
  • California and New York each gained one Five Diamond restaurant, bringing their totals to eight and keeping them tied for states with the greatest number.
  • California and Quintana Roo, Mexico, were the only states to gain both a Five Diamond hotel and a Five Diamond restaurant.
  • Canada and Mexico both gained three Five Diamond establishments per country.
  • One hotel, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 38 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.
  • The restaurant with the longest consecutive Five Diamond tenure, 26 years, since 1988, is The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va.

For more information about Diamond Ratings and the complete Five Diamond hotel and restaurant lists, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

About AAA Inspections

For 78 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA trip planning products: the eTourBook® guides and AAA Mobile® app for tablets and smartphones, the TripTik® Travel Planner and Travel Guides on AAA.com and AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA/CAA offices.

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.

 

Hotel Images

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

Chateau du Sureau, Oakhurst, CA

Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah

Restaurant Images

Grace Restaurant, Chicago

Sixteen, Chicago

The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA

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