Four of the top ten are within a day’s drive for Idahoans

BOISE – (May 1, 2018) – With a few regional exceptions, the Western United States is a popular destination for many summer travelers this year, according to new data compiled by AAA.

While Orlando remains the top travel spot for the season, a review of AAA’s summer travel bookings shows a clear preference for many locations in the West. Here’s the list of the top ten domestic destinations (the numbers in parentheses show the previous year’s ranking):

  1. Orlando, Florida (1)
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii (4)
  3. Anchorage, Alaska (2)
  4. Seattle, Washington (3)
  5. Los Angeles/Anaheim, California (5)
  6. Maui, Hawaii (7)
  7. Fairbanks, Alaska (6)
  8. Las Vegas, Nevada (8)
  9. Boston, Massachusetts (13)
  10. Salt Lake City, Utah (14)

“The data shows what many of us have known all along – the diverse landscapes and experiences that can be found in the West are tough to top,” says Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “The good news is that a number of these locations are within a day’s drive for Idahoans, along with several of the most popular national parks in the country.”


International Travel

For those who aspire to travel abroad, AAA’s top international destinations this summer are:

  1. Rome, Italy (3)
  2. Vancouver, British Columbia (1)
  3. Dublin, Ireland (4)
  4. London, England (2)
  5. Paris, France (7)
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica (8)
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (5)
  8. Calgary, Alberta (10)
  9. Cancun, Mexico (6)
  10. Amsterdam, Netherlands (9)


What about those pesky gas prices?

Last week, a report by the Energy Information Administration calculated national gasoline demand at 9.857 million barrels per day – the highest level on record for the month of April, and a measurement that exceeds typical summer demand as well. Coupled with the switch to summer-blend fuel and seasonal refinery maintenance, there has been unseasonably high pressure on pump prices.

“Recent travel patterns for major holidays over the past few years have shown steady growth due, in part, to higher consumer confidence and relatively low unemployment – both of which can motivate travelers to finance more activities through debt,” Conde said. “If the wave of optimism continues to rise, the high-water mark for fuel demand will likely follow.”

Today, the U.S. average for a gallon of gas is $2.81, which is 16 cents more than a month ago and 43 cents more than a year ago. Since the first of the year, national gas prices have climbed 32 cents.

Pump prices have been even more painful in the Gem State. Idaho drivers are paying $3.09 per gallon today, 31 cents more than a month ago and 53 cents more than a year ago.  Idaho currently ranks 8th in the nation for most expensive fuel prices.  Neighboring states in the top ten include California (2), Washington (3), Nevada (5), Oregon (6), and Utah (7).  Gem State prices have increased by 56 cents since the first of the year.


Begin with a budget

“There’s no doubt that higher gas prices change our thinking about how to achieve our travel goals, especially since 64 percent of families plan to take a road trip this year,” Conde said. “There are a number of ways to stretch the travel budget.”

AAA advises summer travelers to plan ahead and work with experienced travel consultants to get the best value for their dollar on package deals. It’s also a good idea to be flexible with travel dates – a simple adjustment of just a few weeks could yield significant savings on hotels and airfare.  Finally, make sure your car is ready for the road – advance detection of an automotive issue could prevent a major expense later, including costly vehicle repairs and untimely travel delays.

AAA members should also download the AAA mobile app to identify the cheapest fuel in the area where they’re traveling.

“Try to group the priorities for your trip into ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C’ categories so that you can set clear budget priorities,” Conde said. “Be prepared to let go of a few of the ‘C’ activities where needed.  Another option is to consolidate your trips and whittle down some expenses before you hit the road.  That could help free up funds for more unique travel experiences.”