AAA: Less travel expected over holiday weekend

August 29, 2008 3:33:47 PM PDT
We say goodbye to summer this Labor Day weekend. But rising gas prices and tough economic times may be forcing more people to enjoy summer's last holiday closer to home.

Triple A is saying the numbers are down about one percent, and that number is negligible so people may be finding other ways to enjoy the weekend. It isn't stopping people from getting into their cars for a quick getaway this weekend.

One-point-three million Illinoisans will travel this weekend, a little more than one million by car, 200,000 by air. Among those driving, the key to saving money is taking shorter trips.

For a family of four it's still more economical to fill up the minivan with gasoline and hit the road than to fly some place. That allows for money-saving options like packing a picnic or driving up to Wisconsin and visiting their beaches, said Nicole Niemi, AAA Chicago.

On the other hand, there are those who are choosing Chicago as a destination. Even with high fuel and airfare costs, restaurants, hotels and museums are reporting pretty much the same levels of visitors last year and several hotels are catering to suburban visitors.

"People downtown can get a great rate at hotels and several other properties are even offering things like gas cards. So if you come to the city and you drive you get a rebate," said Karen Vaughan, Chicago Office of Tourism.

"We got an air and hotel package that was, you know, the major part of the area where we wanted to see," said Ken Decker, who had just flown in from Florida.

"The trolley is great. It takes you all over. That's wonderful, and the buses and the trains. So you don't have to rent eau car, which is amazing too, very cost effective."

Traffic was bumper to bumper Friday afternoon on the Kennedy downtown. As for the airports, a spokesperson said Labor Day weekend really has never been a big air travel weekend for them, the numbers staying pretty much the same. Where they are seeing a big increase in travelers is on the trains, people looking for a quick day trip from the city.


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