Tuesday, May 25, 2010


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 24, 2010 – Although recent waves of economic volatility and events such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could dampen many vacation plans, a new survey from AAA finds those in the Mountain West are not forsaking their lust for travel this Memorial Day weekend.

AAA’s travel survey projects that over 2.5 million from the Mountain West plan on traveling 50 miles or more this Memorial Day holiday weekend. This represents an overall increase of 7.6 percent from last year.

“Despite a challenging economy, travel is expected to rebound for this Memorial Day weekend, said AAA Utah spokesperson Rolayne Fairclough. “With a hint of renewed economic optimism, the upcoming holiday weekend will likely see people in the Mountain West making up for their previously delayed travel plans.”

AAA projects just over 2 million of these travelers will drive to reach their holiday destinations. Driving is by far the most predominant mode of transportation, with an 8 percent increase compared to last year. More than 200,000 western travelers are planning to travel by air, an increase of 4.7 percent compared to figures from 2009. Approximately 140,000 travelers are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as rail, buses and watercraft, an increase of 5.4 percent compared to 2009 travel numbers.

Nationally, AAA projects just over 32 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Memorial Day weekend, representing a 5.4 percent increase compared to last year.

The AAA Leisure Travel Index shows that air fares over Memorial Day weekend are expected to remain unchanged from last year, with an average cost of $176 per ticket. Hotel rates at AAA Three Diamond lodgings are averaging $141.60 per night and weekend car rentals are forecasted to drop 15 percent compared to last year, with a new average rate of $36.65. The expenditures of a Mountain West family of four will average $993 over the weekend and the average road trip will cover 754 miles.

AAA’s survey shows that dining and outdoor barbeques with friends and family will be the main leisure activity for 74 percent of those polled. The next three favorite activities over the weekend are expected to be touring and sightseeing, visiting family and friends, and shopping.

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 May 31, until 6:00 a.m. on June 1st. Members and non-members alike can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to five miles.

“Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,’ and a truck will be on its way,” said Fairclough. “Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver’s home.”

AAA Tips for Holiday Road Travel
· Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive. Delay trips in really bad weather.

· Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition before starting your trip.

· Pack a cellular phone and a car charger with emergency numbers available.

· Stay focused. Avoid distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio or other electronic devices.

· Be flexible with travel dates. The costs of visiting a destination can vary greatly based on when you travel. Check two or three possible travel dates before booking.

· Take advantage of planning tools. AAA offers free TourBook travel guides and maps to members and AAA.com is available to everyone for online travel planning.

· Use a travel agent. If you are planning a complex itinerary, visit a qualified travel agent such as those at AAA travel agencies.

· Travel early in the day and plan your departure to coincide with light traffic congestion while traveling through large metropolitan areas. Avoid fatigue and drink plenty of water.

· Apple iPhone users can use AAA’s new TripTik® Mobile GPS-based application to find the cheapest fuel prices, maps, directions and AAA offices while away from home. The app is available for free download at the iTunes store.

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 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 Utah offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 175,000 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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