East Valley hotels are gearing up for an influx of weekend guests from across town. Other local holiday travelers are packing for a destination farther from home.
And they all will be paying more for their holiday fun.
Prices for airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals and fill-ups at the gas pump are higher than last year, said Christina Estes, AAA Arizona spokeswoman.
Big tabs aren’t killing July 4 vacation plans, she said, but they are causing people to plan better before they set out.
Use of AAA’s fuel cost calculator has soared 100 percent, Estes said. The Web site, www.fuelcostcalculator.com, allows motorists to figure out how much a road trip will cost before setting out.
Local drivers will pay about 60 cents more for a gallon of gas than they paid last year, but 16 cents less than they paid last month, she said.
Still, a record 40.7 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles this weekend, Estes said. That’s 1.2 percent more than traveled last July 4 weekend.
About 150,000 people a day will be passing through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, said Deborah Ostreicher, Sky Harbor spokeswoman. The airport just opened a new security line at Terminal 2 to help speed them through.
“We expect traffic to be spread out, like at Thanksgiving,” Ostreicher said. “(Today) will be the busiest day, and the 4th and 5th will be very busy.”
Economy parking lots are expected to be packed, she said.
East Valley hoteliers hope the thought of airport crowds and gas-guzzling road trips will convince people to stay in town and vacation at a local resort.
At the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort on the Gila River Indian Community, “It’s looking good,” said spokeswoman Kristin Jarnagin.
As of Thursday, the posh resort had only three of its 500 rooms still available for Monday night and 35 not yet booked for Tuesday night, Jarnagin said.
Most of the calls for reservations are coming from 480 and 602 area codes, she said.
The Hyatt Regency Resort Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch also is filling up fast for the next few days.
“We’re within a couple of rooms of being sold out on Monday and Tuesday and the weekend is like a strong summer weekend,” said spokeswoman Ann Lane. About 60 percent of those reservations are for local people, and, of the remaining 40 percent, most are from California, Lane said.
Estes said if July 4 falls near a weekend, it is typically the busiest holiday for summer travel because families are free to extend it into additional days.
“For Memorial Day, some kids are still in school, and by Labor Day some are back in school,” she said. “But on July 4, they are all out of school.”
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport travel tips for the holiday weekend:
•Economy parking lots are expected open and close periodically. Call the parking hot line before leaving home to check the current status at (602) 273-4545.
•Arrive at the airport at least two hours before flight time to allow time to park and clear security.
•Before leaving home, check with the airline on possible flight delays and baggage weight limits.
•Don’t pack lighters in carry-on luggage. Certain lighters may be packed in checked baggage. For information, check www.tsa.gov.
•When picking up passengers, wait in the free Stage & Go lot on the west side of the airport. Electronic flight display monitors show arriving flights and the estimated time that passengers will be on the curb for pick up.
• Don’t pack fireworks in checked or carry-on luggage.
Holiday hot spots for AAA Arizona members:
• Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Denver are the most popular TripTik and map requests.
• Seattle, Denver, Chicago and Minneapolis are the most popular domestic flights.
• London, Amsterdam and Victoria, Canada, are the most popular international flights.