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Nine of Ten Auto Club Members Plan Summer Trips Despite Economy


(LOS ANGELES, June 5, 2009) The summer vacation getaway tradition remains sacred for the vast majority of Southern Californians even with this year’s economic turmoil, according to the second annual summer vacation survey of more than 800 Automobile Club of Southern California members.

Eighty-eight percent of surveyed members said they will take at least one leisure trip this summer, while nearly eight out of ten (78 percent) plan to travel at least as much as they did last summer and 70 percent say they will spend at least as much on their trips as in 2008.

In 2008, by comparison, 89 percent of members said they would take at least one summer trip, 67 percent said they would travel as much or more than the previous summer, and 75 percent said they would spend as much or more on travel compared to summer 2007.

“Two factors that are keeping this year’s summer travel plans up among our members are the significant discounts being offered from travel providers and lower gas prices,” said Kim Wilde, the Auto Club’s group manager for travel. “Our members have taken advantage of sales on vacation packages, cruises, hotel and car rental rates and even airfares. Those who book their trips well ahead of time are getting great deals and/or added incentives that we have not seen prior to this year.”

More than 40 percent of surveyed Southern California travelers plan to stay within California for their first summer trip, with 7.2 percent indicating they will visit San Diego, 3.2 percent planning a San Francisco trip, and 2.5 percent planning to visit Palm Springs. Las Vegas was the number one destination for Southern Californian travelers’ first summer trips, with 11.2 percent planning to visit there and 13.1 percent planning to visit Nevada overall. Other popular destinations include Arizona (3.9 percent), Mexico, Central and South America (3.7 percent), Hawaii (3.6 percent), New York (3.4 percent) and Europe (3.3 percent).

The first trip of the summer for 58 percent of Southern Californians polled will be by car, while 35 percent plan to fly, three percent will take a recreational vehicle trip and two percent plan to take a cruise.

Of the Southern California members with travel plans, 28 percent plan to take one summer trip, 29 percent will take two, 18 percent will take three, six percent will take four, and seven percent will take five or more trips.

Almost one-quarter of polled travelers said they plan to spend less money on summer trips this year than they did last year, compared to 20 percent in 2008 who said they planned to spend less than in 2007. For those planning to spend less in summer 2009, 54 percent cited concern about the economy as a reason, 40 percent cited reduced income, 18 percent mentioned concern about their job stability and nine percent cited the loss of a job.

By comparison, in 2008, the top cited reason for not spending as much on travel was the drain on travelers’ budgets from high gas prices, which was mentioned by 85 percent of those who planned to spend less.

For their first trip of the summer, 25 percent of surveyed Southland residents said they would spend less than $500, 32 percent planned to spend between $500 and $1,000, 32 percent planned to spend $1000 to $3000, and 11 percent said they would spend more than $3,000.

When rating highly important reasons for taking their first trip of this summer:
  • 88 percent said the vacation destination was a highly important factor
  • 73 percent cited cost
  • 65 percent said entertainment/recreation
  • 63 percent rated the ease of reaching the destination as highly important
  • 57 percent cited proximity to family/friends
  • 40 percent rated a friend’s/relative’s recommendation as highly important
  • 40 percent cited a special event

The first vacation of the summer for those surveyed will last between four and seven days for 43 percent of travelers, three days or less for 36 percent of them, and eight days or more for 22 percent of local travelers.

Eighty-six percent of Southern California members surveyed said they would be traveling with at least one other person to their first summer destination, and 14 percent planned to travel alone.

The Auto Club’s member summer travel poll was conducted via e-mail between April 28 and May 7 by the Auto Club Marketing Research Department. On the survey, a “trip” was defined as one with a distance at least 50 miles away from home and involving an overnight stay.

More information about summer travel deals – and free maps and TourBook information for Auto Club members – is available at any of the 75 Auto Club offices throughout Southern California. Online travel planning is available at
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
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.