A Good Time For A Staycation

Katie Young
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Wednesday - June 04, 2008
| Del.icio.us

It looks like I’ll be stuck here this summer. No free-wheelin’ travels to new and exciting places for me. I just can’t afford to travel. For that matter, I wonder if I’ll even be able to afford a drive to the North Shore or be able to run my air conditioner with the record-high fuel prices.

I may just have to find new and exciting things to do in the comfort of my own home. Knitting? Scrapbooking? Puzzles? I have to say the thought of spending the summer cooped up at home is not particularly appealing to me. I’m one of those people who tends to get “rock fever,” even though I love living in Hawaii.

I managed to find a fantastic fare to California in April but had to cancel my travel plans because of medical reasons. Now, however, I have this ticket I can rebook for a fee and pay the difference, but I’d have to pay more than double the original ticket price! I’ve decided I may just have to cut my losses.

And there is no relief in sight. Even a quick jaunt to a Neighbor Island is getting costly, making it more of a financial investment than it may be worth for many travelers.

It seems those who live on the Mainland are even struggling to justify summer driving trips. According to AAA, record fuel prices and tough economic times have definitely altered travel plans for many Americans.

AAA projected the number of Americans traveling during the Memorial Day weekend would drop. It estimated that 360,000 fewer travelers would travel 50 or more miles from home over the holiday weekend.

While most of these people were traveling by automobile, some still took to the skies, although there was a drop in those traveling by plane as well. Air fares over the holiday weekend were projected to rise 8 percent over last year. Car rentals also saw a significant rate increase.

It also reported that one-third of travelers either shortened their trip or canceled it altogether due to high costs.

The Travel Industry Association (TIA) reported in early May, however, that 59 percent of Americans who were currently planning a trip with their car, truck or SUV this summer would not change their travel plans even with additional increases in the price of gas, according to a survey coauthored by the organization. TIA also reported that 16 percent of those expecting a tax rebate as part of the economic stimulus package approved by Congress are planning to spend their rebate on an overnight or day trip for leisure purposes.

Among the 41 percent of survey respondents who stated their plans would change if gas prices rise further, the greatest percentage would drive a shorter distance to their vacation destination. In addition, 36 percent would take fewer trips or cancel completely, while others would cut costs by purchasing fewer souvenirs or by spending less money on meals, entertainment or lodging.

Of course, living within driving distance of a vacation destination certainly creates more options. But what about those of us who live on an island? Sure, we’re in paradise and can easily take a day trip to the beach or hike in the mountains if we just want to get out of the house.

This may be the summer when we all have to explore places closer to home - whether it’s another island or just another corner of our own island. Several hotels are already promoting new kamaaina specials to target Island customers.

There’s even a new term in the visitor industry -“staycations” - to describe those stays with local destinations.

So what about you? How have rising travel costs affected your summer travel plans?

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