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Expert expects busy travel season

While staycations have become increasingly popular in the last five years due to the nation’s financial crisis, travel experts don’t expect the traditional vacation to ride off into the sunset anytime soon.

“Most of us think of a vacation as a necessity rather than a luxury just because everything is so fast paced nowadays and we have so many irons in the fire,” said Clay Ingram, public relations manager with AAA. “We need that break now more than ever. Most people are willing to make some sacrifices in other areas to make a trip or two each year.”

Those sacrifices come in many shapes and sizes, according to Ingram, including the amount of days that people stay on vacation and the overall budget for the trip.

“People get really creative in ways to save money when they’re on family trips,” Ingram said.

Some ways to cut back include staying fives nights instead of six or making weekend trips, staying in less expensive hotels, eating at less expensive restaurants, packing a few lunches here and there, spending less on souvenirs and focusing on entertainment that might be more affordable.

Ingram said another way to save may be by enlisting the services of a travel agent since the agent may have information on deals that may not be easily found on the Internet.

“They can help you plan your trip and you can call up and say ‘here’s an idea or two or three and I need some help in saving some money,’” Ingram said. “Usually people come out ahead and find some bargains.”

Ingram also recommends planning ahead. That not only guarantees travelers a spot at their desired location, but can also help keep a few dollars in their pockets.

“You need to plan ahead this year, because things are filling up much quicker than they normally do,” Ingram said.

With gas prices expected to decline through the summer months, and travelers adjusting to the tough economic times, Ingram is expecting a busy travel season.

“The last three or four years of (travel) has been down a little because of the problems along the Gulf Coast with the hurricanes, the oil spill, and the economy, so people have been traveling less mostly for economic reasons,” Ingram said. “Right now, the feeling that I get is that most people feel a little bit better about the economy, but mostly they feel better about their own personal situation.”