There may be “no place like home,” as Dorothy from Kansas believes, but it’s summer, and not even a traffic-jam of an economy can dissuade Americans from thoughts of getting out of the house, hitting the road, or taking off.
Despite escalating gas prices, airfares and hotel room rates, more than six of 10 Americans say it is important to get away from home this year, according to a recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. After putting off vacation plans during the depths of the recession, Americans want out and are prepared to pay more for their wanderlust this summer, the poll found. Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) said they expect to spend more on transportation this year and 44 percent have figured on paying more for food, accommodations and entertainment.
They expect correctly. The national average price for a gallon of regular is about $3.64, up from about $2.74 a year ago, according to AAA. This month Universal Orlando and the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks hiked their one-day admission prices from $82 to $85. Both resorts also raised the prices on their multi-day, multi-park packages.
Hotel room rates, meanwhile, are expected to cost more than 4 percent higher this summer than the same period last year. And anyone inspired by Woody Allen’s latest film to jump on a plane to Paris can expect to pay on average 8 percent more than they would have last year.
Travelers will be paying more, but they will be savvier about how they spend their money. They are going online to investigate travel packages, discount offers and any travel industry inducements. A new American Express Co. survey found that about 40% of travelers said that getting a good deal was a big factor in determining their vacation, and many hotel chains are accommodating them with offers of cash cards, free night stays, or gas cards.
Those who travel by car are expected to economize by taking fewer trips or not traveling as far. But according to a recent Travel Industry Association poll, it’s not the price of gas that may dissuade travelers, it is more the prospect of crowds, heat and health concerns.