May 24 - The Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer travel season, which is projected to see higher costs. Jeanne Yurman reports.
Gas prices have retreated since hitting a peak in February. Yet as the Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer vacation season, fewer Americans are taking to the roads or the skies this year. A gallon of regular unleaded runs $3.65 on average nationwide, down only two cents from the same time last year. Robert Sinclair, Jr. of the American Automobile Association says that's still not enough to spur a jump in travel. SOUNDBITE: ROBERT SINCLAIR JR., MEDIA RELATIONS MANAGER, NEW YORK AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "About half the people we surveyed said that $3.50 is the painful stage when they have to start making some changes due to the price of gasoline." AAA predicts 34.8 million Americans will be on the move this weekend, down nearly one percent from last year. And that smaller number plans to spend less per trip. Air travel will see a decline as fewer airlines drive an estimated three to six percent increase in ticket costs this year. While rates are exceptionally high for Europe, Pauline Frommer of Frommer's travel guides, says think domestically. SOUNDBITE: PAULINE FROMMER, PUBLISHER, FROMMERS.COM (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We're seeing pockets of good deals. Not everywhere but some of the fares domestically are down. For example, Chicago is down 18 percent. We're seeing better prices for Boston, New York, Los Angeles. It depends on the date. It depends on the carrier." And with hotel costs forecast to climb almost five percent, think rentals. SOUNDBITE: PAULINE FROMMER, PUBLISHER, FROMMERS.COM (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Rentals are a booming trend. A lot of people now are looking at villa rentals or whole houses or apartments because you have room to spread out. You have a kitchen to cook in and you often pay as much or less than you would at a hotel." As travel providers from airlines to hotels tack on a longer list of extra fees, savings of any kind are welcome. Those who do travel should expect to dig deeper.