Auto Club Holiday Travel Poll: Less Spending, But Half Will Take At Least One Trip

Travel, Insurance & Consumer Tips
(LOS ANGELES – Nov. 8, 2011) – Local consumers will be spending less on their holiday trips this season, but are about as likely as they were last year to take at least one overnight trip for the holidays in November and December, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Third Annual Winter Holiday Travel Poll.
 
Forty-nine percent of polled local residents said they plan on one or more holiday trips, compared to 47 percent last year, while 39 percent definitely won’t take a trip (37 percent last year) and 12 percent are undecided (16 percent in 2010).
 
The 39 percent not taking a holiday trip cited several reasons, including:
  • High gas prices (45 percent)
  • Too many other expenses (45 percent)
  • Rising price of travel (34 percent)
  • Reduced household income (30 percent)
 
Of those who will be traveling in November and December, 60 percent plan to spend $1,000 or less on their getaways, compared to 52 percent last year who said they would spend under $1,000.
 
Forty-nine percent of surveyed holiday travelers will take one trip in November or December, 39 percent will take two, and 12 percent will take three or more. Last year, 46 percent said they would take one trip, 43 percent were taking two, and 11 percent were taking three or more.
 
The survey also revealed a sharp drop in the number of travelers who said they would sightsee during their holiday trips – 28 percent this year compared to 42 percent in 2010. The most popular holiday trip activities stayed about the same as last year – visiting family (64 percent), celebrating the holiday (42 percent) and visiting friends (34 percent).
 
“We are definitely seeing more price sensitivity on the part of travelers because of the economy and high gas prices, but we also see that travel is viewed as a high priority and people will continue to fit trips into their budgets however they can,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Fortunately, travel providers are recognizing this also and are offering many family budget-friendly deals, such as free kids’ fares on Disney Cruises and significant discounts for early bookings.”
 
Of those polled who indicated they would travel this holiday season, 61 percent will take at least one trip within California, while 35 percent plan to visit Nevada, 20 percent will visit Arizona, eight percent will visit Hawaii and four percent will visit Mexico.
 
The Auto Club offers the following tips for saving on holiday travel:
 
  • If you fly to your destination, consider mailing holiday gifts ahead of time to avoid high baggage fees. Also, wrapped gifts can cause problems with the TSA screening process, so if you do bring gifts on the plane, wrap them at your destination.
 
  • The last-minute holiday deal is back for many travel providers because of lower demand due to the economy. To take advantage, do some online research or let a travel agent do it for you. Travel agents don’t charge for their services, so you’ll get the same price on the deal and also save time.
 
  • For long-distance road trips, plan your stops for gasoline with a tool like GasBuddy.com or the AAA TripTik app for smartphones, which lists gas prices at stations all along your travel route. Price differences can be as much as 50 cents a gallon because gas stations near airports and key freeway locations may charge much higher prices, so it’s worth it to shop around first.
 
  • Avoid speeding. It’s tempting to drive 75 miles an hour or more on an open highway, but doing that on a long-distance road trip could cost you $20 to $30 more per day in wasted fuel. Visit http://mpgforspeed.com to use a cost calculator showing how much fuel costs you at various highway speeds.
 
The Auto Club’s Holiday Travel Poll was conducted online by the Auto Club’s Marketing Research Department along with the Holiday Shopping Poll, which was released last week. The poll surveyed 557 Auto Club members between Oct. 4 and Oct. 20. It has a margin of error of +/-4 percent and the differences between 2011 and 2010 results were tested for statistical significance at a 95 percent confidence level.
 

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 885-2333
Montgomery.Marie@aaa-calif.com