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Auto Club Holiday Travel Poll Shows Economy's Effect on Southern Californians' Trip Plans, Budgets

Travel, Insurance & Consumer Tips
(LOS ANGELES – Nov. 12, 2009) – More than one-third of Southland residents who plan to travel over the November and December holidays say they will spend less money on their getaways because of the economy, according to a new poll conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Market Research Department.
The online survey of more than 700 Southern Californians, which included both Auto Club members and non-members, also found that 44 percent of those planning trips say they’ll spend less than $500 on holiday travel, while 75 percent plan to spend $1,000 or less.
Just over half (52 percent) of all those polled said they will definitely not take an overnight trip at least 50 miles from home this holiday season, and another 18 percent are still undecided about whether they will travel. Among those who say they definitely won’t travel, one-third cited the economy as a major or sizeable influence on their decision, while one-third said it had little to no influence on deciding not to travel.
“We will find out in the next few weeks whether to expect an increase or decrease in Thanksgiving and December holiday travel compared to last year’s holidays, but we do see many local travelers seeking ways to save money and taking advantage of travel bargains created by the economic downturn to get even more for their money,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “For example, 26 percent of our members and 19 percent of all those polled say they plan to use an affinity program such as AAA Discounts to get reduced hotel rates as part of cutting their vacation costs.”
The most popular ways that holiday travelers said they planned to save money on their upcoming trips included:
1)      Staying with friends/family instead of a hotel (39 percent)
2)      Traveling by car instead of by air (30 percent)
3)      Reducing shopping/souvenir budget (29 percent)
4)      Staying in a less expensive hotel (27 percent)
5)      Taking a trip closer to home (22 percent)
6)      Cutting the trip entertainment budget (21 percent)
7)      Sharing costs with friends or family (21 percent)
8)      Using an affinity program such as AAA discounts to get reduced hotel rates (19 percent)
9)      Reducing budget for meals/snacks on the trip (18 percent)
10)  Reducing the number of days for the vacation (18 percent)
The most popular activities during holiday trips, according to the poll, are visiting family (65 percent), celebrating the holiday (45 percent), visiting friends (31 percent), sightseeing (26 percent), maintaining a family tradition of traveling during the holidays (22 percent), shopping (18 percent), and spa/relaxation (16 percent).
Of the Southern Californians planning to take at least one holiday trip the rest of this year, the most popular destinations included traveling within California (53 percent), going out of state (46 percent), going to a gambling destination such as Las Vegas (19 percent), traveling internationally (seven percent), going to an amusement park (six percent) and going to a tropical destination (five percent).
The travel poll was part of a survey that also asked Southern California consumers about their overall holiday shopping plans. The shopping portion of the poll revealed that most consumers don’t plan to cut back on the number of people on their holiday gift lists, but a majority of them do plan to cut their holiday shopping budgets this year.
More information about Auto Club discounts on lodgings, restaurants and other travel is available at or at any Auto Club branch office, where members can get the new Member Saver booklet outlining discounts and special offers for members.

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 420-0477 (cell)

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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.