Posts Tagged ‘AAA Travel’

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 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 Hunter

An up and down economy, fee fatigue, higher fares and travel frustration top causes for the decline

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 22, 2013) – AAA Travel projects 34.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 0.9 percent decrease from the 35.1 million people who traveled last year.  The anticipated decline in holiday travel is predominately due to a decline in air travel of eight percent, fee fatigue among travelers and a waffling economy. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.

Additional Resources

“AAA is forecasting Memorial Day travel  to be slightly lower this year due to an to an up and down economy, the impact of the end of the payroll tax holiday on working families and a 30-year low in the percentage of working age people in the workforce,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “Additionally, economic growth in the first quarter was strong, but the impact of the sequester is now beginning to be felt resulting in reduced economic growth expectations.  These and other variables are expected to result in few travelers this holiday. ”

Highlights from 2013 Memorial Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Memorial Day holiday travelers to total 34.8 million, a decrease of 0.9 percent from the 35.1 million who traveled last year
  • Eighty-nine percent of travelers (31.2 million) to travel by automobile, an increase from 31.1 million last year
  • Holiday air travel expected to decrease eight percent to 2.3 million from 2.5 million in 2012
  • Memorial Day holiday travel volume is expected to remain above the 12-year historical average of 34.7 million
  • Median spending is expected to decrease more than six percent to $659, compared to $702 in 2012 with transportation costs consuming about 28 cents of every travel dollar.
  • Travelers intend to journey an average of 690 miles which is higher than last year’s average of 642 miles

“The primary driver of the decline in holiday travelers is an eight percent decrease in the number of people expected to take to the skies this holiday,” Darbelnet said. “American travelers are experiencing fee fatigue and frustration with everything from higher fares to airport security.  As a result, many are choosing road travel in higher numbers due to the lower cost and convenience it offers. ”

Automobile Travel Only Mode of Transportation to Expect Increase

Approximately 31.2 million people plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 0.25 percent from the 31.1 million who drove last year.  Almost nine out of ten holiday travelers (89 percent) will take to the nation’s roadways during the Memorial Day weekend, keeping automobile travel in the traditional lead as the dominant mode of holiday travel transportation.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

A survey of intended travelers found that gasoline prices would have no impact on plans for 62 percent of travelers. Of the remaining 38 percent of travelers who said gas prices would impact their travel plans, 27 percent plan to economize in other areas.  Eight percent are planning to take a shorter trip and three percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation.

Since national gas prices peaked at the end of February, motorists nationwide have felt welcome relief at the pump. However, current gas prices are in line with this time last year and not expected to have an effect on travel plans.

Air Travelers to decline by eight percent

More than 2.3 million leisure air travelers (more than seven percent of holiday travelers) will arrive at their destination by air, an eight percent decrease from last year’s 2.5 million air travelers.  The remaining four percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be 690 miles, which is 48 miles more than last year’s average of 642 miles. Generally a greater distance traveled also means there will be an increase in air travel, but this year is the exception as air travel is expected to decrease eight percent. It appears auto travelers will be taking longer road trips as travelers expect fuel to consume a larger share of their travel budget. Last year the shortest trips, those of less than 150 miles, made up 21 percent of total travel, this year the shortest trips make up only 13 percent of the total. Those travelers who will take to the skies have shifted towards longer-haul flights.

Median spending is expected to decrease as travelers prioritize family and friends

Median spending during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be $659, six percent less than the $702 median spending last year. Transportation is expected to consume approximately 28 cents of every dollar. Travelers expect to spend 22 percent on food and beverage and 20 percent on lodging.

During the holiday weekend, more than half of intending travelers will plan to partake in visiting with friends/family (59 percent) and dining (55 percent). Other popular activities include shopping (44 percent), going to the beach (32 percent) and touring and sightseeing (27 percent).

Car rental rates highest in four years, hotel rates rise modestly

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 of $166 per night compared to $160 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels remained unchanged with an average cost of $120 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $43, 19 percent more than last year and the highest rate recorded for the holiday since 2009.

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 Memorial 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.

 

Ginnie PritchettORLANDO, Fla., (May 21, 2013) – As everyone makes plans to head  to the beach or attend celebrations around the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, AAA strongly encourages to arrange a safe ride home before they partake in any festivities.

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.  Once there, AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.

While not a nationwide program, a number of AAA clubs offer Tow-to-Go or Tipsy Tow service on select dates for members and nonmembers. This service is not available everywhere. AAA strongly encourages family and friends to pick a designated driver before they head out for any Memorial Day celebrations.

*Please note availability is subject to change without notice

The following AAA Clubs offer Tipsy Tow/ Tow to Go programs for Memorial Day Holiday Weekend:

  • The Auto Club Group (Statewide in Florida and Georgia and Tennessee. Program is called “Tow-to-Go”)
  • AAA Arizona (statewide)
  • AAA New Jersey Automobile Club (Morris, Essex and Union counties)
  • AAA Northwest Ohio ( available in Lucas, Fulton, Wood, Henry, Williams, Defiance, Paulding and Ottawa counties)
  • AAA South Dakota (Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Mitchell and Yankton)
  • AAA Oklahoma ( Metro Tulsa, Metro Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Bartlesville, Enid, Muskogee, Ardmore, Tahlequah and Lawton )

For a comprehensive list of other community programs listed state by state, please visit AAA’s DUI Justice Link Website

Heather HunterRestaurants steeped in notable origins offer dining options rich in history and flavor

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 15, 2013) – As Memorial Day approaches, bringing the start of the summer travel season, many Americans look for ways to connect with our nation’s history during getaways and get-togethers. To help travelers enjoy a taste of our colorful beginnings, AAA inspectors gathered their selections for favorite historic restaurants. In locations that vary from an 1885 school building to a rustic stone and wood lodge in the heart of a national park, these restaurants invite diners to step back in time while enjoying a memorable meal.

Below is a sampling of 10 establishments with notable historic origins, patrons and menu offerings. Access the full list of 40 inspector picks for favorite historic restaurants on AAA’s travel blog at AAATravelViews.com.

The Ahwahnee Dining Room, AAA Three Diamond, Fine Dining/Continental, Yosemite National Park, Calif.

On entering this magnificent establishment that opened its doors in 1927, visitors are struck by the 34-foot-high open beam ceilings, granite pillars and floor-to-ceiling windows. Delicacies on the dinner menu include grilled salmon, braised pork, roasted lamb and prime rib. Inspector Tip: Casual attire is permitted at breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch, but at dinner gentlemen are asked to wear collared shirts and long pants and ladies are asked to wear dresses, skirts or slacks and blouses.

Buckhorn Exchange, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Steak, Denver, Colo.

Henry H. “Shorty Scout” Zietz, a performer in Buffalo Bill Cody’s shows, opened the Buckhorn in 1893. Now, after 120 years of continuous operation, Gramma Fanny’s pot roast is still on the menu. A meat lover’s dream, the menu features a variety of USDA steaks, elk, Colorado lamb, quail, bison, duck and even alligator tail. Inspector Tip: The decor features Old West memorabilia including a 150-year-old hand carved oak bar and an extensive taxidermy collection.

Carolina Crossroads Restaurant, AAA Four Diamond, Fine Dining/Regional American, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Inside the historic Carolina Inn, the restaurant embodies elegance with Chippendale-style chairs, posh fabrics and delicate orchids. Guests can relax over gourmet luncheon sandwiches, salads and cold plates or return for one of the chef’s prix fixe dinner menus offered in addition to à la carte selections. The seasonally changing Southern-inspired cuisine includes creatively prepared seafood, beef and chicken. Inspector Tip: Sunday brunch is a treat with an omelet station and homemade pastries.

Century Inn Dining Room, AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Scenery Hill, Pa.

Swing open the doors of this 1794 pillared stone house and be transported back to Colonial times. The inn was an overnight stop for stagecoach patrons like George Washington, Andrew Jackson and James Polk. The homey dining room offers charming décor, antiques, exposed beams and rich wood tables and chairs. Fresh ingredients drive the seasonally changing menu of regional American dishes served by staff dressed in Colonial clobber.

El Charro Café, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Mexican, Tucson, Ariz.

Tucked away in a historic barrio on the edge of downtown Tucson, this family-owned Mexican establishment was built as the family residence and converted to a restaurant in 1922. One specialty is the chimichanga, reputedly invented here when the chef accidentally dropped a burrito into a skillet of boiling oil. Inspector Tip: Another favorite worth the visit is the carne seca made of sun-dried beef strips seasoned with secret ingredients.

Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Alexandria, Va.

The site’s two buildings include a circa 1785 tavern, now a museum, and the 1792 City Hotel, now the dining room. The Colonial atmosphere comes alive with the aged wood-plank floors and staff in period attire. Menu options include George Washington’s Favorite, a grilled breast of duck, and Gentleman’s Pye, made of tender cuts of lamb and beef in a savory red wine stew. Inspector Note: Renowned patrons have included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Regional American, New Braunfels, Texas

Constructed in 1878 as a cotton gin in this German settlement, now a historic district, the restaurant sits beneath the old Gruene water tower. View the rushing Guadalupe River beneath the shade of ancient oak trees. Inside, enjoy thick-cut steaks, oversized strawberry shortcakes and Jack Daniels pecan pie amid the ambience of enormous wood beams and period brick walls.

The Historic Green Manor Restaurant, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Southern, Union City, Ga.

Established in 1910, the restaurant is built on an early-1800s foundation. Cannon balls from the Civil War have been found on-site. The structure includes multiple fireplaces, elegant staircases and a basement wine cellar. Inspector Tip: The wraparound porch is a great place to wait for the tasty Southern buffet featuring fried chicken, barbeque pork ribs, collard greens, speckled butterbeans and sweet tea.

Union Oyster House, AAA Two Diamond, Family Dining/Regional Seafood, Boston, Mass.

As the city’s oldest restaurant and reputedly the nation’s oldest continuously operated restaurant, this popular establishment serves up traditionally prepared New England favorites — oysters, steamers, chowders, haddock and lobster — and even some landlubber fare. Inspector Tip: The narrow stairs and uneven wood-planked floors reflect the history of this nostalgic must-stop, which will celebrate 200 years in 2026.

Webster House, AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Kansas City, Mo.

Constructed in 1885 as the Webster School, this Romanesque Revival style building was restored and repurposed in 2002 as a unique dining and shopping locale. The menu focuses on lighter fare and Sunday brunch, complete with mimosas, is fantastic. Inspector Tip: The impressive first floor has been artfully restored as an upscale antique shop.

Read the complete list of inspectors’ favorite historic restaurants across North America on the AAA travel blog at AAA.com/TravelViews. Find more than 600 restaurants classified as historic in the searchable listings on AAA.com.

About AAA Inspections

AAA is the only rating system that conducts on-site professional evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with more properties than any other rating entity, AAA is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. For 77 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections and publish the results, on a system of One to Five Diamonds, to guide member travel decisions.

AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotel and restaurant listings can be found in the eTourBook guides at AAA.com/ebooks, the AAA Mobile app at AAA.com/mobile, online at AAA.com/Travel and in the printed TourBook guides available at AAA/CAA offices.

A total of 125 luxurious hotels and 53 world-class restaurants across North America begin the new year with the travel authority’s highest property rating

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 18, 2013) – AAA announced today the 178 select establishments that earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2013 Five Diamond Award® list. Representing just 0.3 percent of the total 59,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, this exclusive group provides unique experiences chock full of leading-edge creativity and highly personalized hospitality to satisfy even the most savvy traveler.

Of note among the 13 new additions are the only AAA Five Diamond hotels in Puerto Rico and Nevis. New York and Florida each added three new Five Diamond establishments: New York added one hotel and two restaurants, while Florida added two hotels and one restaurant. Florida’s additions include the only new Five Diamond pair: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its on-site restaurant, Salt.

 

Additional Resources

New Five Diamond Hotels (9):

Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Calif.

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Bal Harbour, Fla.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Trump SoHo New York, New York, N.Y.

Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Ritz-Carlton Montréal, Québec, Canada

Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies, Charlestown, Nevis

St. Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

Capella Pedregal Resort and Spa, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

 

New Five Diamond Restaurants (4):

Benu, San Francisco, Calif.

Salt (in The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island), Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Eleven Madison Park, New York, N.Y.

Le Bernardin, New York, N.Y.

 

“AAA Five Diamond hotels offer guests a meticulous degree of personalized attention and extensive amenities in a luxurious setting, and Five Diamond restaurants feature world-class service and imaginative menus using the finest ingredients,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development.  “These establishments consistently exceed the expectations of the most discriminating traveler – the AAA inspector — and AAA is pleased to recognize them with a Five Diamond Rating.”

Collectively visiting some 1,200 hotels and restaurants every week, AAA inspectors are in a unique position to identify emerging trends in the hospitality industry. Inspectors have observed hotels and restaurants using increasingly personalized approaches to enhance guest comfort and satisfaction. “The definition of Five Diamond luxury continues to evolve as guests seek unique experiences with intrinsic value,” said Petrone.

Experienced, highly qualified staff are required to provide the custom service today’s luxury hotel guest expects. Larger hotels, faced with the difficulties of responding to individual needs, often restructure their approach. Many use the immediacy of social media to augment the experience as luxury travelers research, purchase, engage in and reflect on their stay. Imagine tweeting your desire for a rare vintage wine and having it arrive moments later at your guestroom door.

Restaurants employ an artisanal touch to provide an individualized culinary experience in a non-obtrusive manner. Menu offerings, once complex and highly orchestrated, are now often simple concepts meticulously executed. Meals and beverages are handcrafted using seasonal, organic ingredients from local sources. Distilled or flavored ice may be one of several original effects added to an already enchanting homemade cocktail mix.

The path to a Five Diamond Rating is rigorous. Properties identified by AAA as potential candidates for the Five Diamond Rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations by a AAA inspector and final decision by a panel of experts. In addition to the evaluation of physical attributes, potential Five Diamond establishments are subject to thorough onsite assessments of all guest services from the initial reservation through checkout for hotels and from seating to  presentation for restaurants. Each area is evaluated based on level of competence, refinement and hospitality.

 

Noteworthy for 2013:

  • The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the only hotel that has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 37 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.
  • The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., has the longest Five Diamond restaurant tenure, 25 consecutive years, since 1988.
  • With two restaurant additions, Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin, New York now ties with California for the most AAA Five Diamond Restaurants: seven in each state.
  • The only new AAA Five Diamond hotel and restaurant pair is The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its on-site restaurant Salt, in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
  • The number of Five Diamond hotels in Canada doubled to four with the addition of the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver and The Ritz-Carlton Montréal. The country is also home to five Five Diamond Restaurants, representing nearly 10 percent of the total.

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

 

About AAA Inspections

AAA is the only rating system that conducts on-site professional evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with more properties than any other rating entity, AAA is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. For 77 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections and publish the results, on a system of One to Five Diamonds, to guide member travel decisions.

Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants are listed 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. Travelers can learn about AAA inspections and Diamond Ratings at AAA.com/Diamonds.

 

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colo.
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Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Calif.
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The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Fla.
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Trump SoHo New York, New York, N.Y.
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Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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The Ritz-Carlton Montréal, Québec, Canada
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Capella Pedregal Resort and Spa, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
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Benu, San Francisco, Calif.
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Salt (in The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island), Fernandina Beach, Fla.
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Eleven Madison Park, New York, N.Y.
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Le Bernardin, New York, N.Y.

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Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies, Charlestown, Nevis
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With 93.3 million Americans expected to take a trip this holiday season, holiday travel to increase by 1.6 percent

ORLANDO, Fla., (Dec. 13, 2012)AAA projects 93.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 91.8 million people who traveled last year. This increase brings holiday travel figures to within half a million of the decade high mark seen during the 2006/2007 season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.

Highlights from AAA 2012/13 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Year-end holiday travelers to total 93.3 million, an increase of 1.6 percent from the 91.8 million that traveled last year
  • Ninety percent of travelers (84.4 million) to travel by automobile, representing 26.7 percent of the total U.S. population
  • Holiday air travel expected to increase 4.5 percent to 5.6 million travelers from 5.4 million in 2011
  • Median spending expected to increase almost six percent to $759, compared to $718 in 2011 with transportation costs consuming about 29 cents of every travel dollar.
  • Average distance traveled to increase to 760 miles round-trip from 726 miles, an expected result with an increase in air travelers
  • Travel volumes for the year-end holidays are generally very stable, only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five percent

Additional Resources

“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Americans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations.”

“As we enter the New Year, one unknown for travel is the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ and the resulting uncertainty related to near-term tax and benefit changes.  Having these items unresolved complicates many travelers’ ability to develop an accurate household budget as they plan for future spending and saving decisions.  It is important that Congress and the President work together to quickly resolve the situation for the good of the nation,” said Darbelnet.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20-3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day. Gas prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, but remain at record highs for this time of year. AAA does not expect gas prices to have a major impact on travel volume, but consumers could have more money to spend on holiday shopping, dining and entertainment if prices drop through December as expected.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel increases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers (84.4 million) plan to travel by automobile this holiday season. This is a 1.3 percent increase over the 83.3 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent as six percent of travelers or 5.6 million will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find lower airfares according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.  For the year-end holiday period the average lowest round-trip rate is $203 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, a three percent decrease from last year. Approximately 3.3 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates to increase slightly, car rental rates increase 41 percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, year-end holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase two percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $129 per night compared to $126 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay three percent more, at an average cost of $95 per night.  Daily car rental rates will average $56, compared to $40 last year.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during holiday period is expected to be 760 miles, further than last year when travelers planned to log 726 miles.

Median spending up nearly six percent; top activities are dining and spending time with loved ones

Median spending is expected to be $759, a six percent increase compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($718) last year.

Dining (67 percent) and spending time with family and friends (66 percent) and are the most popular activities planned by travelers. It is not surprising that during holiday season shopping is the third most popular activity with 57 percent expecting to shop. More than one-third (34 percent) of holiday travelers plan to sightsee during their trips.

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 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 2012/13 Year-end Holiday Travel 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.

Holiday travel continues steady climb from 2008 level with 43.6 million Americans expected to take Thanksgiving trips

ORLANDO, Fla., (Nov. 13, 2012)AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 0.7 percent over the 43.3 million people who traveled last year. This increase marks the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers since 2008 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.

Highlights from this year’s 2012 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.6 million, an increase of 0.7 percent from the 43.3 million who traveled last year
  • Ninety percent of travelers or 39.1 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.6 percent
  • Holiday air travel to decline to 3.14 million travelers from 3.2 million in 2011
  • Median spending expected to drop 10 percent to $498, compared to $554 last year. Spending remains consistent with historic averages as Americans continue to prioritize travel while finding ways to economize
  • Average distance traveled to decline to 588 miles from 706 miles, due in part to a decrease in the number of air travelers and Americans desire to economize budgets
  • Despite mild improvements in unemployment, the housing market and greater consumer optimism, the economy is still struggling to keep its head above water

Additional Resources

“Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of travelers taking to the roads and skies for the holiday. Americans continue to find ways to economize their budgets so they can gather around the holiday table to carve the turkey.”

“While we do not yet know the full impact that Hurricane Sandy will have on travel from the Mid-Atlantic region, we do know that the impact for many Americans in that region is substantial,” continued Darbelnet.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will drop to between $3.25-3.40 a gallon by the holiday, similar to last year’s average of $3.32, which was the most expensive average ever on Thanksgiving. Despite the historically high prices paid by motorists this year, the national average has declined by nearly 40 cents a gallon since early October and should continue to drop through the end of the year. The national average price of gas for Thanksgiving from 2007-2011 is $2.75 a gallon.

Wednesday before the holiday is expected to 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 the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends.   AAA asked intended travelers which days they would depart for and return from Thanksgiving Travel. Among those surveyed, the majority of travelers plan to leave the Wednesday before the holiday (45 percent) and return the following Sunday (36 percent) with another 25 percent expecting to return on Monday, Nov. 26.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 39.1 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 0.6 percent increase over the 38.9 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 1.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find lower airfares according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  For the Thanksgiving holiday the average lowest round-trip rate is $188 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, an 11 percent decrease from last year. Approximately 1.3 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase 27 percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to decrease one percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $145 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay one percent more, at an average cost of $104 per night.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $47, compared to $37 last year.

Average travel distance decreases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 588 miles, which is a decline of 16.7 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 706 miles.

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

Median spending is expected to be $498, a 10 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($554) in 2011.

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 (75 percent) and dining (56 percent) are the most popular activities planned by travelers. Despite lower median spending, half of all travelers (50 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 101 top North American destinations, free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like Orlando, New York and the award-winning Las Vegas, as well as National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and nearby member discounts 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 2012 Thanksgiving  Holiday Travel Forecast can be found in the additional resources box.

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.

AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet Announces 2012 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast

(Click Images to Enlarge)

New chip technology will increase acceptance and security of AAA credit cards for consumers traveling and spending abroad

ORLANDO, Fla., (September 10, 2012) – Americans traveling to international destinations have been challenged by the technology gap between magnetic stripe credit cards issued in the United States and chip-enabled cards widely accepted abroad. AAA, North America’s largest leisure travel organization, announces the rollout of chip technology on its credit cards for current cardholders through our partner Bank of America.

“Chip-enabled cards will expand purchase options, add convenience and transaction security for Americans traveling abroad,” said Siobhan O’Donnell, director, AAA Financial Services Sales and Marketing. “We are pleased to provide this new technology to cardholders which will enhance their international travel experiences.”

Credit cards with chip technology, which is also known as EMV (EuroPayMasterCard Visa), are embedded with a microprocessor chip that encrypts and stores the account information. Many countries outside the United States have already converted from magnetic stripe to EMV chip technology.

AAA’s new chip-enabled credit cards will continue to prompt customers to sign for transactions just as they would today. The cards also include the traditional magnetic stripe, which is used by U.S. merchants.

Current AAA credit cardholders are able to request the chip card option by calling the customer service number on the back of their card. Chip cards will be rolled out for new cardholders later this year. For more information visit AAA.com/creditcard.

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.

 

Projected travel up 2.9 percent from Labor Day holiday weekend last year, highest travel volume expected since 2008 before the recession caused a retraction in Labor Day travel

ORLANDO, Fla., (August 21, 2012)AAA Travel projects 33 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from the 32.1 million people who traveled last year.  The total number of 2012 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high, and is the third increase in holiday travel this year, according to the AAA/IHS Global Insight 2012 Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast.  AAA’s Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday travel forecasts projected increases of 1.2 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. 

Despite a sluggish economy and recent rises in gas prices, the increase in expected Labor Day holiday weekend travelers is driven by improving consumer confidence compared to one year ago and Americans’ unwavering desire to travel.  The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 30 to Monday, September 3. 

Additional Resources

“In the absence of strong economic growth that might fuel a significant boost in travel volume, it is an encouraging sign that Americans continue to prioritize travel,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services.  “Travel is still within America’s discretionary spending budget.”    

The health of the travel industry is dependent upon discretionary spending and growth in travel has a positive effect on employment and the overall economy.  In the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that 7.6 million jobs are supported by the travel and tourism industry.  The jobs total consists of 5.4 million (71 percent) direct tourism jobs and 2.2 million (29 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs.

Impact of household finances on travel plans

A survey of intended travelers found that 66 percent said their current financial situation would

not negatively impact their Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans.  Of the remaining 34 percent of travelers who said their current finances would impact their travel plans, 21 percent will economize in other areas, nine percent are planning to take a shorter trip, and the remaining four percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation.  The group of surveyed travelers who reported their intent to economize in other areas plan to reduce spending on shopping and sightseeing and will stay with friends and relatives instead of reserving a hotel room.  Conversely, changes in the expected primary activities of travelers this Labor Day holiday include increases in entertainment like nightlife, sporting events, concerts and golf.         

Automobile travel up 3.1 percent  

Approximately 28.2 million people (85 percent of holiday travelers) will make their Labor Day holiday journey by automobile, considered the most convenient mode of travel for many Americans.  This is a 3.1 percent increase over the 27.3 million people who took to the nation’s roadways in 2011. 

Number of air travelers expected to increase by 3.7 percent, airfares decrease

Labor Day holiday air travel has been fairly consistent since the recession bounce back began for the travel industry in 2010.  About 2.55 million leisure travelers (eight percent of holiday travelers) will fly during the Labor Day weekend, a 3.7 percent increase over 2011 when 2.46 million traveled by air.  In 2010, 2.6 million chose to fly to their Labor Day vacation destinations which began the steady recovery from the decade-low 1.5 million air travelers in 2009. Airfares decreased four percent over last year with an average lowest round-trip rate of $197 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. 

The remaining seven percent of Labor Day holiday travelers are expected to use other modes of transportation, including cruise ship, rail and bus travel accounting for 2.3 million Americans – a nominal 0.2 percent decrease over last year.            

Average travel distance increases as most travelers prefer shorter trips, spending up  

According to a survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 626 miles, up slightly from last year’s average 608 miles.  Despite the longer average travel distance, most holiday travelers (54 percent) will be taking shorter-distance trips, between 100 and 400 round-trip miles.  The increase in expected air travel is a contributing factor to the slight lift in the average travel distance as air trips typically span longer distances than automobile trips, many over 1,500 round-trip miles. 

Median spending is expected to be $749, a small increase over the $702 median spending of intended holiday travelers in 2011.

Travelers to experience increase in hotel rates, decrease in car rental rates

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Labor Day holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $148 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay six percent more at an average cost of $117 per night.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $39, a ten percent decrease from one year ago.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

National gas prices have fluctuated and been particularly sensitive to region variations throughout much of the year.  On April 5 and 6, motorists experienced a year-to-date peak average price of $3.94 per gallon for regular gasoline.  The current national average price of regular gasoline for August 20, 2012 is $3.72 per gallon, which is 22 cents less than the April peak and 14 cents more than last year’s price on August 20.      

Gasoline purchases are critical expenditures in most household budgets, yet 66 percent of intended holiday travelers said their current household finances would not negatively impact their Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans.  As the Labor Day holiday weekend approaches, increases in gas prices could cause some travelers to alter their plans.  Conversely, falling prices could spur last-minute travel increases. 

Barring any significant unforeseen events such as severe hurricanes, geopolitical incidents or dramatic nationwide price increases, gas prices are not expected to have a major impact on Labor Day holiday weekend travel. Historically, incidents that impact regional gas prices and regional travel have not impacted nationwide holiday travel.       

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, free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like Orlando, New York and the award-winning Las Vegas, as well as National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and nearby member discounts 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 Boston-based economic research and consulting firm 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 2012 Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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.

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