Like many people planning to spend their last summer holiday weekend traveling, Walmart shopper Carolyn Warneke on Monday was carefully picking and choosing what she needs for a three-day camping trip.
Her family will be among the millions of Californians who prioritize travel as the Labor Day weekend approaches, despite a sluggish economy and ongoing high gas prices, according to AAA of Northern California.
"It's a family tradition to go to Fort Bragg," said Warneke, of Orland. "It's just a bit tougher now with the economy the way it is. I have to shop as smart as I can."
AAA's latest travel forecast predicts more than 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this upcoming three-day holiday weekend.
This represents an overall increase of 3.4 percent compared to last year, but like Warneke, many are looking to save money wherever they can to accommodate higher prices on gas, goods and services. "While many Californians are still caught in a fragile state of economic affairs, they are willing to travel, but will be cutting back on other expenses," said AAA Northern California spokewoman Cynthia Harris.
AAA's survey shows that shopping, visiting family and friends, dining, touring and sightseeing will be the preferred leisure activity for West Coast families.
Rebecca Robledo of Maxwell said she is looking forward to a Labor Day outing to the San Francisco Zoo this weekend with her boyfriend and his 4-year-old son.
The economy, however, definitely had an impact on their plans.
"We would stay the night but it's too pricey for hotels in San Francisco, so we are most likely going to drive back the same day," Robledo said.
Other favorite activities over the weekend are expected to be going to a beach and waterfront area.
According to AAA, the expenditures of a West Coast family of four are expected to average $439 over the weekend.
Filling up his gas tank at the Willows Arco station on Monday, C.J. Hernandez said his family will spend the weekend with relatives near Clear Lake before returning home Monday afternoon.
"Everything costs more," he said. "It's not just gas. For us, keeping expenses down will come from not eating out and less money spent on sodas and junk food."
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