SAN FRANCISCO, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With wedding season fast approaching, Hotwire.com, a leading discount travel site, today revealed more results from its second annual American Travel Behavior Survey, conducted online on its behalf by Harris Interactive in October 2012 among over 2,000 U.S. adults. According to the survey, during the last 12 months, 21 percent of American adults spent as much as $197 Billion on trips they felt obliged to take. Furthermore, 48 percent of Americans spent money on obligation trips to weddings of family and friends during the same time period and were anticipating they would do the same next season. With so much money allocated to obligatory travel, travelers may be thinking about putting off the fun trips they want to take because they believe they won't be able to afford them. The good news is the travel experts at Hotwire have compiled a Where to Go Now & How Guide to the top five affordable and fun destinations for spring, so even if travelers have to attend a wedding or some other obligatory event this season, they should look to one of the following destinations for more fun-on-the-dollar.
"We know Americans across the country are using large portions of their travel budgets so they can make it to all those 'must see' moments in life like weddings, reunions, birthdays and major holidays," said Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group. "Fortunately, obligation trips don't have to come at the cost of leisure travel if you have the right resource guiding you toward savings. We're offering deep discounts to a variety of locations so that this year you can comfortably afford both the must-go and must-have trips."
Here are the top five destinations for some leisure fun in Hotwire's spring 2013 Where to Go Now & How Guide:
Washington, DC – catch the capital in bloom at a discounted price
Why Now: Many folks head to beach hot-spots like the Caribbean during spring, but that means other locations, like our nation's capital, are dropping prices to attract travelers. In addition, with the government sequester reducing budgets and sizes of political meetings, hotels are discounting even more to fill rooms left unfilled by officials. Spring also happens to be one of the best times to visit DC as the city has ideal weather and plenty of events. Attending one of the many springtime wine festivals, taking a tour through Washington Cathedral's spring garden or making a quick 45-minute drive to Sandy Point State Park are ways to make a richly diverse getaway.
Value: Bargains abound in DC, with daily rates averaging around $100 per night. That's down 5% from last year, making this the prime time for a visit to the Washington Metropolitan area.
How: Sample Air/Hotel Package Deal: 3.5-star hotel in the Silver Spring area and RT airfare from JFK for $245 per person (rate reflects searches on 3/26/13 for travel dates of 4/11/13 – 4/13/13).
Chicago, IL – wind down in the Windy City at a fraction of the cost
Why Now: Beginning in April and running through summer, Chicago experiences one of its most bustling times of year. However, when visiting during the earlier months of spring, you can score some great deals and partake in some wonderful activities all while avoiding the summer crowds. And this summer is expected to be quite busy, so visiting over the next couple months should net you lots of savings. Travelers who visit Chicago this season can catch a Chicago Bulls game, check out a Picasso at the Art Institute of Chicago or head over to the Lincoln Park Conservatory to catch a glimpse of the annual Spring Flower Show. Those looking for an outdoor escape will find respite in the Indiana Dunes State Park, which is just a short drive away. The park consists of 2,182 acres of indulgent sun, sand and greenery.
Value: Prices are down 5% from this time last year. That means nightly rates are averaging around $81—a steal for Chicago any time of year, but especially now with so much going on.
How: Sample Air/Hotel Package Deal: 4-star hotel in the Downtown Chicago – Millennium Park area and RT airfare from JFK for $387 per person (rate reflects searches on 3/26/13 for travel dates of 4/11/13 – 4/13/13).
Vancouver, BC – tour Canada's Terminal City for less
Why Now: Vancouver is easy to fly to from most major U.S. airports, and is only a few-hour drive from Seattle. The snow might be gone in the main part of the city, but the temperatures are usually not warm enough for it to dissipate in the mountainous areas just outside Vancouver. This means that travelers looking for one more ski trip to a world-class mountain can capitalize on very reasonable rates. And if the snow isn't great on any given day, visitors can easily stay downtown instead and enjoy all the city has to offer. Once spring comes in April, there are plenty of other outdoor activities for folks to enjoy. Take in the scenery at the Stanley Park Rose Garden, which is in full bloom through the beginning of April, or hop on board a whale-watching tour to catch migrating gray whales on the move. Those looking to escape the city can head to Harrison Hot Springs at the edge of southwestern British Columbia's largest lake, which is just under two hours away by car. The drive is well worth it for those who enjoy windsurfing, parasailing, kayaking or kicking-back in the mineral springs.
Value: Rooms are averaging $87 per night. Those rates are down 8% from last year, making this an opportune time to visit this jewel in the Pacific Northwest.
How: Sample Air/Hotel Package Deal: 4-star hotel in the Vancouver Downtown Shopping and Entertainment District area and RT airfare from SFO for $489.18 per person (rate reflects searches on 3/26/13 for travel dates of 4/11/13 – 4/13/13).
Dominican Republic – celebrate spring break in the sun and save
Why Now: Travelers looking for a spring beach destination that won't empty pockets or drop them into a crowd of countless spring breakers should head to the Dominican Republic. This tropical island is not necessarily top of mind to many spring break travelers, so hotels in the area are dropping rates in order to attract beachgoers. And another benefit of flying under the radar is that unlike other Caribbean destinations that attract the raucous crowds, the Dominican Republic keeps pretty quiet, providing tourists with rest and relaxation without the sky-high prices. Beach-bound visitors to the Dominican Republic will be treated to a bounty of sun-kissed hot spots, including Punta Cana, Boca Chica and Punta Rucia. While there, you can also take in the beauty of the island by going on a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city of Santiago, checking out the whales in Samana or visiting the national park on nearby Saona Island, which is just a short boat ride away.
Value: This year, Easter falls earlier than normal, causing a slower start to the prime tourist season and affording great deals to customers. The average daily rate is currently around $130—a steal for the Dominican any time of year!
How: Sample Air/Hotel Package Deal: 4-star hotel in the Santo Domingo area and RT airfare from JFK for $545.50 per person (rate reflects searches on 3/26/13 for travel dates of 4/11/13 – 4/13/13).
Turkey – roam free for less in the new Rome
Why Now: Over the past few years, Turkey has certainly grown a lot in popularity. However, with the recent European financial crisis playing out, many locals are holding off on regional travel plans, which have affected prices across the board in the area. Currently, some of the best deals can be found in this amazing European destination. Strong competition among hotels has been driving rates lower during one of the most pleasant times to visit Turkey. This means that many travelers can check one of their dream destinations off the list, all while scoring huge savings, beating the summer heat, and avoiding big crowds. When visiting Istanbul, travelers may want to check out the Basilica Cistern, the largest of a series of ancient underground water reservoirs. Those interested in shopping may want to stop by the Grand Bazaar, an ancient maze of more than 3,000 shops established more than 500 years ago. For those looking to escape the city, the Princes' Islands offer a scenic seaside escape, and are just a quick ferry ride away from Istanbul.
Value: The average daily rate in Antalya, a beautiful, coastal city in southwestern Turkey, is a stunning $35 per night, while Istanbul is averaging a very reasonable $113 per night.
How: Sample Air/Hotel Package Deal: 4-star hotel in the Istanbul area and RT airfare from JFK for $855.90 per person (rate reflects searches on 3/26/13 for travel dates of 4/18/13 – 4/20/13).
*Average daily rates are based on Hot Rate hotel bookings across all star categories made on Hotwire.com on 3/26/13 for specified dates in spring 2013.
Harris Interactive® fielded the study on behalf of Hotwire from October 15-17, 2012 among 2,133 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, October 18-22, 2012 among 2,082 U.S. adults ages 18 and older and on October 23-25, 2012 among 2, 096 U.S. adults ages 18 and older via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus service, interviewing 2,133 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. This data were weighted to reflect the composition of the general adult population. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
Hotwire.com is a leading discount travel site with low rates on airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises and vacation packages. Launched in 2000, Hotwire, Inc. obtains deep discounts from its travel suppliers to help travelers book unsold airline seats, hotel rooms and rental cars. Hotwire.com is an award-winning website and Hotwire, Inc. is an operating company within Expedia, Inc. CST # 2029030-50. NST: 20003-0209. For more information, visit http://www.hotwire.com. Hotwire.com operates sites in 8 countries worldwide: www.hotwire.com, www.hotwire.com/uk, www.hotwire.com/ie, www.hotwire.com/au, www.hotwire.com/nz, www.hotwire.com/se, www.hotwire.com/no and www.hotwire.com/dk. In addition to Hotwire, The Hotwire Group of websites includes: www.hotwire.com and www.carrentals.com.
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 21% of American adults ages 18+ spent between $1 - $4,000 on all obligation trips between October 2011 – October 2012. Using census data, we calculated that (.21) x 234.6M (total U.S. pop age 18+) = 49.3 million American adults spent between $1 - $4,000 on all obligation trips between October 2011 – October 2012. Furthermore, from this we took the maximum amount spent by each American in this group to conclude that 21% of American adults spent up to $197.2 billion ($4,000 x 49.3M = $197.2 Billion maximum).