Media Contact: Cynthia Harris
Emeryville, CA., May 21, 2012
The official start of the summer travel season will see millions of Californians hitting the roads, according to a new survey about Memorial Day travel trends from AAA Northern California.
AAA’s travel survey projects that 4.2 million Californians plan on traveling 50 miles or more this Memorial Day holiday weekend. This represents a slight increase of 1.5 percent from last year.
“High debt burdens, gasoline prices, and uncertainties regarding the strength of the current economic recovery have not deterred Californians from holiday travel,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “But many consumers intend to cut back on the distance they travel, as well on entertainment expenses, to compensate for reduced travel budgets. Others will be opting for backyard barbeques, a staple of this three-day holiday weekend.”
AAA projects over 3.5 million Californians will drive this upcoming holiday weekend. This represents an increase of 1.6 percent from last year. Air travel will decrease by 5.2 percent compared to 2011 figures, with just over 390,000 Californians intending to fly to their holiday getaways. Approximately 265,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as rail, buses and watercraft. This represents an increase of 11.9 percent compared with 2011.
The AAA survey revealed that the recent volatility of gas prices will not impact Memorial Day travel plans for the majority of travelers (53 percent). Many travelers (34 percent) will economize in other areas, such as reduced spending on entertainment, staying at lower priced hotels, and staying with family and friends.
Nationally, AAA projects over 34 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Memorial Day weekend, representing a 1.2 percent increase compared to last year.
The AAA Leisure Travel Index shows that air fares over Memorial Day weekend are expected to be 7 percent lower than last year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $189 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Hotel rates at AAA Three Diamond lodgings are up eight percent from a year ago, averaging $160 per night. Weekend car rentals rates will average $36, just $2 less than last year. The expenditures of a West Coast family of four will average just over $800 over the weekend and the average road trip will cover about 750 miles.
According to those polled in AAA’s survey, the top three favorite activities for Memorial Day weekend are: visiting family and friends, dining, time at the beach, and touring. Other popular activities include night life or visiting museums, historical sites and national and state parks.
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 p.m. on May 28 until 6 a.m. on May 29. Members and non-members can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to 10 miles. Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver’s home.
“Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,’ and a truck will be on its way,” said Harris.
Motorists are being hit hard by high gas prices and are finding it harder to save money at the pump. By taking the time to gauge the condition of your vehicle and make the necessary repairs, costly breakdowns can be avoided.
AAA Car Care “Musts” You Don’t Want to Skip:
• Tire Pressure: Under-inflated tires decrease fuel economy and wear the edges of their tread.
• Engine Air Filter: Check every six months or 7,500 miles. If you cannot see through it, replace it.
• Battery Cables/Clamps/Terminals: Check for corrosion, slow engine cranking, dimming headlights. Clean and tighten battery connections if necessary.
• Windshield Washer Fluid: Check washer fluid monthly. Test washer spray nozzles for proper use.
• Motor Oil: Consider using energy-conserving oil, with additives that increase fuel economy.
AAA’s projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Travel is the nation’s largest 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 nearly 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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