Staycation trend continues locally

Slow economy, high gas prices keeps people vacationing close to home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A staycation is the chance to be a tourist in your own backyard and save some money on hotel accommodations and transportation while doing it.

Experts say the trend began when the economy slowed down five years ago. People didn't want to give up summer vacation plans, but also couldn't afford the high gas bill on a long road trip. So instead, about 35 percent of Americans are vacationing or considering vacationing near or in their hometown.

"Me and my family love to travel. I bought my wife a minivan so we can travel. So as soon as gas prices go down, I think people will be on the road again," said Jonathan Taylor, who's visiting Jacksonville.

Taylor said it takes about $80 in gas to fill up that minivan, a price tag that's kept him and friends from planning road trips this summer.

"I have a couple friends who have four or more kids, and they're not going anywhere. They can't afford it," Taylor said. "Gas prices are too high, the economy is messed up, so they just choose to stay at home. It's better."

David Cawton, of AAA, said he's seeing the staycation trend continue this summer.

"I think that's the biggest type of travel we're seeing here locally," Cawton said. "Here in Jacksonville, we've got a lot of stuff within two to two and a half hours where folks can enjoy their vacation still without getting killed at the pump.

Research shows gas prices are the main factor keeping people from booking summer travel. The U.S. Travel Association found 54 percent of Americans said the increasing prices would affect their summer vacation plans, while 43 percent said their plans would be affected if airfare continues to rise because of gas prices.

Cawton said there's a bright side to that -- the more people who choose to vacation at home, the better local businesses fare through the summer season.

"Since about 2008, we've seen people kind of stick closer to home," Cawton said. "We saw with the oil spill a couple years ago we had a big influx of tourism down here at the beaches as well, so the businesses are, you know, definitely profiting from it though."

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