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Georgians will hit the road but monitor vacation budgets
DULUTH, Ga. (4/11/12)--Georgians will hit the road this summer, after years of economizing and staying close to home with "staycations," according to a survey by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). Although higher gas prices aren't likely to be an impediment, the added cost may cause some people to alter the lengths of their vacations or find cheaper alternatives. That mirrors national trends, said GCUA.

Sixty-three percent of respondents to the GCUA Consumer Survey said they plan to spend more or the same on travel in 2012 than they did last year. That's up from 49% who said the same thing in 2010 (GCUA's Consider This April 3).

Traveling on a budget remains a priority. The GCUA survey found that 31.7% of respondents worked harder to find deals and save on travel in 2011 than they did in previous years.

With many travel bargains and regional destinations to choose from, people can still find the money-- and the time--to take trips this year, GCUA said.

On a national level, travel experts expect people to change the type or length of their travel rather than opt to cut out travel entirely, according to a CBS.com report in March. Many travelers have found that remaining flexible with timing and destination can help. Travelers can search for discounts on several destinations and choose the one with the best deals, GCUA said.

Regional destinations are expected to be popular this year, reducing the fuel costs associated with vacations. Thetravelguide.com suggests vacationers book their vacations in bundles instead of booking airfare, hotel and attractions separately. The site also recommends asking lots of questions when making plans. Sometimes booking for a particular day of the week can result in savings.

During the past few years, family camping trips have seen a resurgence, especially in national parks and forests, with that trend seeming to continue into 2012 (prweb.com April 3). 

Many national parks are seeing a consistent rise in the number of visitors, which makes it harder to find campsites in a park's campgrounds and to enjoy solitude and the appeal of the outdoors. Once in the park, visitors likely will find attractions crowded, roads congested and campgrounds full, prweb.com said.   

Camping in a national forest is a good alternative because there are 175 national forests located in 43 states--many within a day's drive from most big metropolitan areas, and many surrounding a national park, prweb.com added.

Many of her members are still approaching vacations cautiously, Tina Burkhalter, president of Nashville (Ga.) CU, told GCUA. "I believe rising gas prices will certainly affect our members' decisions on where to go and how far to travel," she said.

To save money, she suggests that people consider taking shorter vacations. A shorter trip costs less, but still provides the chance to relax and get away. "Most of our members rely on loan proceeds to fund their vacations," Burkhalter said.

A better option is for people to prepare in advance for their vacations by saving a little at a time throughout the year in a vacation club savings account, and funding it through payroll deduction, she added. With a small amount saved each week, people can give themselves the freedom to take the trip they want, Burkhalter concluded.


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