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Memorial Day travel expected to dip slightly

POSTED May 24, 2013 5:13 p.m.

Despite signs of a gradual economic recovery, uncertainty still lingers for Californians who are expected to be cautious in their travel spending this upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.  

AAA’s travel survey projects that just over 4.0 million Californians plan on traveling 50 miles or more this Memorial Day holiday weekend. This represents a slight decrease of -2.1 percent from last year.

“Despite the diminished tailwind for travel plans among Californians this Memorial Day weekend, many are still caving into their pent-up desires to leave town as the official summer travel season begins,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “Many will cut back on expenditures by traveling closer to home, and staying with family and friends.”                                      

AAA projects almost 3.5 million Californians will drive this upcoming holiday weekend, no change from last year. Air travel will decrease by 12.5 percent compared to 2012 figures, with just over 349,000 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 a decrease of 14.3 percent compared with 2012.

The AAA survey revealed that gas prices would not impact Memorial Day travel plans for the majority of travelers (62 percent). Many travelers (38 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 34.8 million people will journey 50 miles or more during the Memorial Day weekend, representing a 0.9 percent increase compared to last year.

The AAA Leisure Travel Index shows that hotel rates at AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase over four percent from a year ago, averaging $166 per night, compared to $160 last year. Weekend car rentals rates will average $43 per day, 19 percent more than last year. The expenditures of a West Coast family of four will average of $890 over the weekend and the average road trip will cover about 730 miles.

According to those polled in AAA’s survey, the top three favorite activities for Memorial Day weekend for West Coast families are: visiting family and friends, dining, and shopping. Other popular activities include touring, sightseeing, beach activities and hiking in national and state parks.

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