Media Contact: Cynthia Harris
Emervyville, CA., August 30, 2012
Californians continue to prioritize travel as the end-of-the-summer holiday weekend approaches, despite a sluggish economy and ongoing high gas prices.
AAA’s latest travel forecast predicts more than 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this upcoming three-day Labor Day weekend. This represents an overall increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year.
"While many Californians are still caught in a fragile state of economic affairs, they are willing to travel, but will be cutting back on other expenses,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “Those surveyed expect to cut back on shopping, take a shorter trip, travel by an alternative mode of transportation, and stay with family and friends to avoid higher expenditures over the holiday weekend.”
This year, holiday trips by automobile are expected to be the preferred mode of transportation with more than 2.9 million Californians driving to reach their holiday destinations. This represents a 3.6 percent increase compared to 2011. More than 490,000 Californians are planning to travel by air, an increase of 4.1 percent compared to last year. More than 300,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as rail, bus and watercraft. This represents an increase of .2 percent over 2011.
Nationally, AAA projects just over 33 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Labor Day weekend, representing a 2.9 percent increase compared to 2011.
The AAA Leisure Travel Index shows that airfares over Labor Day weekend are expected to decrease by four percent, with an average cost of $197 per ticket. Hotel rates at AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $154 per night, an increase of four percent from a year ago. Weekend car rentals are forecast to decrease ten percent, with a new average rate of $39. The expenditures of a West Coast family of four are expected to average $439 over the weekend, and the average road trip is predicted to cover 635 miles.
AAA’s survey shows that shopping, visiting family and friends, dining, and touring/sightseeing will be the preferred leisure activity for West Coast families. Other favorite activities over the weekend are expected to be going to a beach/waterfront area followed by night life activities.
As part of AAA’s ongoing commitment to provide safety and protection to motorists, the AAA Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow home for drinking drivers in Northern California, Nevada, and Utah from 6:00 p.m. on September 3, until 6:00 a.m. on September 4. Members and non-members alike can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to ten miles.
“Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,’ and a truck will be on its way,” said Harris. “Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver’s home.”
To save money and improve gas mileage while on the road, AAA offers the following advice for motorists:
• Keep your tires properly inflated. Every pound of pressure that a tire is under inflated results in a two percent loss in fuel efficiency.
• Don’t use premium fuel if your car does not require it. Check your owner’s manual.
• Observe the speed limit. At speeds above 55 mph, aerodynamic drag increases and fuel efficiency decreases rapidly.
• Avoid hard acceleration and drive defensively. Try to brake and accelerate smoothly.
• Idling unnecessarily wastes fuel. Most cars today do not need to be warmed up.
• Travel light. A loaded roof rack can decrease fuel economy by five percent.
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.
AAA projections are based economic research and research by HIS Global Insight. The Boston-based consulting firm teamed up with AAA as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Travel is the nation’s largest leisure travel organization. AAA Travel offers trips, cruises, tours and vacation packages throughout the world. Call (888) 937-5523 for more information or visit us at your local AAA Travel office or online at www.aaa.com/travel.
AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to over 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.
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