Holiday travelers to brave gas costs - East Valley Tribune: News

Holiday travelers to brave gas costs

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Posted: Monday, May 24, 2004 6:15 am | Updated: 4:51 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Record-high gas prices won’t keep East Valley residents from kicking off summer with a Memorial Day weekend road trip. But fuel costs will change the way many of us take vacations this weekend — and all summer long.

We’ll take shorter trips, which means more of us will stay in Arizona.

And if we do leave the state, we’ll scrimp on hotels, trinkets and meals so we can afford gas, which currently costs an average $2.13 per gallon in Arizona.

Though everybody grumbles about the cost, few are willing to give up the chance for summer fun.

"You’ll see some changes in how people go on vacation, but you’re not going to see them stop vacations because of higher gas prices," said Kim Pappas-Miller, a spokeswoman for AAA Arizona.

About 84 percent of Americans plan a car trip during Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA, which is about the same as last year.

Summer vacations will be as popular as ever, too.

Though record fuel costs are a shock, they won’t stop vacation plans because they typically make up a small portion of total travel expenses.

For example, a driver will spend an extra $20 this year on an 800-mile trip using a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon, according to AAA.

Meanwhile, a family of four will spend about $235 a day for food and lodging.

Arizona hotel and resort operators are betting East Valley residents will stay in state instead of California.

Valley hotel bookings are up 7 percent compared with this time last year, according to the Phoenix & Valley of the Sun Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Gas prices may encourage Valley residents to stay in four-star hotels that offer reduced summer rates, bureau spokesman Doug MacKenzie said.

"I think this will truly help the local economy," MacKenzie said.

Bookings are up 30 percent over last year at Carefree Resort and Villas, resort spokeswoman Carol Baetzel said, because Valley residents are looking for a nearby getaway.

Valley resorts could lure vacationers who would otherwise go to California, Baetzel said.

San Diego and Los Angeles are summer vacation favorites of Michael Lira of Mesa, but he said high gas prices will keep him in Arizona.

Lira said he doesn’t want to spend what it takes for such a long drive.

"We’ll probably just go to Jerome and spend the night there," Lira said.

Adrienne Black of Mesa said the prices will keep her family home more this summer.

Black takes her family across Arizona and California while her daughter participates in horse shows, and she doesn’t want to cut back on that. So the family will save by reducing pleasure trips or by camping out.

Gas is a huge expense for Black, who drives a Ford Expedition that costs $40 to $50 for a fill-up.

"I won’t even fill it up at any given time," Black said. "I’ll do $20 at a time and try to condense my trips."

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