(LOS ANGELES – March 22, 2010) – Nearly two-thirds of local residents have planned at least one spring break overnight trip during March or April this year, but more than one-third of those travelers say they will spend less on spring break vacations than they did prior to the economic downturn, according to a new poll conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California.
“The most popular dates for spring break travel have traditionally fallen during the week before and the week after Easter, which this year includes the period between this upcoming weekend and April 11,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “But as school holidays and work schedules have changed, AAA travel agents find themselves booking spring break trips throughout the months of March and April.”
A spring break trip was defined in the Auto Club poll as an overnight trip 50 miles or more away from home anytime during March or April.
According to the Auto Club poll, 46 percent of Southern California spring break travelers plan to spend $1,000 or more on their getaways, and 52 percent will make their getaway within the state, while 23 percent plan to go to a gambling destination such as Las Vegas or another casino resort area. Fifty-nine percent of travelers plan to drive to their spring break getaways, while 31 percent plan to fly.
Among the 24 percent of those polled who said they will definitely not take a spring break vacation, more than two-thirds cited the economic downturn as playing a role in their decision not to travel.
The first-ever Auto Club spring break survey also revealed that travelers are aggressively seeking out ways to save money on travel and spring break activities such as visiting amusement parks and attractions, going to the movies, or taking in a live performance.
The top money-saving tactic for travel and spring break activities among those polled was using specials and discount programs such as AAA. Fifty-six percent said they are saving money on spring break activities with discounts, and 35 percent said they are using discount programs like AAA to get cheaper hotel rates. Auto Club members get discounts on admission to several attractions throughout California such as Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, LEGOLAND California and the San Diego Zoo.
Another one-third of travelers said they are saving money on their trips by reducing their shopping/souvenir budgets, and 32 percent said they are traveling by car instead of flying to save money.
“Spring travel bookings have improved this year compared to last spring, but travelers are much more focused on getting the best value for their money,” Andre said. “There are a few last-minute travel deals left for spring, but the availability of last-minute travel is shrinking and generally speaking, travelers who plan ahead are the ones who can get the better deals.”
More than half of those polled (56 percent) said they plan to spend the same or more on travel in the next 12 months as they have in the previous year.
Top activities for those who are taking a spring break vacation, according to the poll, are:
- Sightseeing (51 percent)
- Visiting family (36 percent)
- Visiting an attraction (32 percent)
- Visiting friends (26 percent)
- Shopping (24 percent)
- Hobby such as golf or skiing (19 percent)
- Spa/relaxation (18 percent)
- Maintaining a family tradition of traveling during the spring season (12 percent)
The spring break poll was conducted online by the Auto Club’s Marketing Research Department from Feb. 22 to March 1 of this year, and 659 Auto Club members responded to the survey. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percent.