Summertime fun: Staycations, big trips and sending kids off 

Here’s a rough vacation forecast for the summer: “Staycations” are still hot, but there’s a better chance of big trips, and students will be the ones soaking up the sun.

It’s almost summertime and travelers are expected to splurge about 4 percent more overall — flights, accommodations, extras — than they did in 2009, based on surveys conducted by the state tourism commission.

But for 2010, it’s more about approach than simply holding wallets on lockdown.

This year, instead of skipping major international trips entirely, some families are sending one of the kids on a trip to save cash and staying home for bigger gatherings, said George Morello, whose father opened their travel business in The City in 1962.

“Instead of somewhere exotic like Costa Rica, they’re saying, ‘Hey, let’s do a cruise or some other adventure that might be within the states,’’’ Morello, whose company is in Burlingame now, said. “They come to me and say, ‘George or Mitzi is graduating this year. Where’s the fun place that I can send them?’’’

Even though it’s not the whole family soaring overseas, it’s still good news for San Francisco International Airport, which sold about 100,000 fewer international tickets in 2009 than it did in 2008.

It was also the only airport in the top 20 that saw an increase in its domestic flights in 2009.

This year SFO is expecting an increase of about 5 percent in both domestic and international passengers, said spokesman Mike McCarron.

That’s helpful for travel agencies such as AirTreks that plan multiple international flights. It is seeing people who are unemployed or between schools taking longer trips in cheaper countries.

“People are taking career breaks or have the time but not much money. … They’ll take longer, more interesting trips. … They think, ‘I don’t have a job anyway. I may as well do some traveling’,’’ AirTreks salesman Nico Crisafulli said.

But the savvy trip advisers are quickly learning where the money is: the kids.

Mike Montgomery, who has two daughters and is the president of the PTA for Rooftop Elementary in The City, said, “There’s a lot more aggressive marketing in the schools from organizations that run things like summer camps. ... We’re kind of resistant to it if there’s no direct benefit to the school.’’

He also said his friend who is having a wedding in France this summer approached his daughters about being in his wedding before asking Montgomery to make travel plans.

“So, you know, to offset the cost we’re doing very little summer camp. We’re also sending the kids to Fremont to stay with in-laws for a couple of weeks; it’s cheaper there, and we’ll save money to pay for Europe,’’ he said.

But there are two things that nobody can deny: Hawaii is always the go-to exotic getaway, and lounging around the Bay Area can always be adventurous.

For instance, San Francisco resident Samantha Robinson said if she ends up planning any major trips this year, it would probably be with her and her boyfriend to Hawaii to “sit around and do nothing.’’

And city resident Charles Laos opted for a “staycation:” “Take some time off and stay here? Absolutely.’’

Laos said the only no-no is planning them too far ahead of time.

“They just kind of happen,” he said. “It’s better that way.”  

 

What I did on my summer vacation

Jackson Harris
18, Mission High School student


Where do you live?
San Francisco
What do you usually do during the summer? Normally I visit family or I just stay home, just go out with friends, read. Last summer I had an internship at Project Pull.
Do you have a big trip this summer? Actually, yeah. I really want to go to Cambridge for an international leadership program if I get enough money. It’s $6,000. Amsterdam is an option, too. My dad went a few years ago and he loved it and he’s big on art. So am I. It’d be me, him and my brother.
Has the economy affected your summer? Not really.
Ever planned a staycation? No, we haven’t done anything like that.
What do you think of staycations? It sounds like a good idea.


Danielle Borden
23, communications


Where do you live?
San Francisco. I’m moving to Nob Hill.
What do you usually do during the summer? Family trips — either to my mother’s home in the Philippines or my father’s home in Minnesota. I went to Minnesota last July.
What’s your big trip this summer? I’ll be going to Minnesota in July again.
Is there anything different about your plans this summer than in the past? I’ll be going to a wedding in Mammoth Lake in July and I’ll probably go camping once or twice.
Has the economy had an effect on your vacation plans? No.
Ever planned a staycation? I’ve never planned one on purpose, but when there’s nice weather in The City on the weekends I make a point to be outside and check out an unfamiliar area of S.F.
What do you think of staycations? There’s always a ton of activities going on even though I’ve lived in San Francisco all my life.


Bryan Plescia
28, business development executive


Where do you live?
Sausalito
What do you usually do during the summer? Traditionally I go up to Tahoe a lot and visit the valley, like Sacramento. I have family there.
Do you have a big trip this summer? This summer the only big trips are Las Vegas and L.A., but those are small. A big trip would be Hawaii or Mexico.
Is there anything different about your plans this summer than in the past? I’m going to be at my place in Sausalito more. I have nice balcony now.
Has the economy had an effect on your vacation plans? No, because I generally pick my big vacations in the fall and winter. Summertime is usually with family and friends.
Ever planned a staycation? No, but  I have thought about doing that.
What do you think of staycations? I think it’s a great idea because San Francisco is always changing. Whether it’s culinary or it’s romantic, there’s something for everybody.



Charles Laos
40, service industry


Where do you live?
San Francisco. Six years, maybe seven.
What do you usually do during the summer? Work hard and play hard.
Do you have a big trip this summer? I plan to go to London toward the end of summer, after Lady Gaga in August, of course.
Is there anything different about your plans this summer than in the past? There’s nothing different really.
Has the economy had an effect on your vacation plans? It has. I would have gone longer to Europe. I’m staying 10 days, where normally I would have gone for a month.
Ever planned a staycation? No. It just kind of happens.
What do you think of staycations? Absolutely. It’s great to be able to do it just because there’s so much to do here. There’s always some type of street fair, aka Folsom Street Fair. I’m wearing a tan and a smile.


Samantha Robinson
24, environmental consulting and communications


Where do you live?
I live in Nob Hill.
What do you usually do during the summer? We plan one or two camping trips and we definitely go to the street fairs as much possible just to get out in the sun. My favorite is the North Beach Festival.
What’s your big trip this summer? The one thing we’re thinking about is a trip to Hawaii in August to just literally do nothing. Last October we went to Portugal.
Anything different about your plans this summer? The big difference is that we’re planning a really big group trip and I usually don’t do that.
Has the economy affected your plans? Yes. Last summer the budget was much tighter so I did nothing. We ended up traveling in the off season.
What do you think of staycations? I think they are a great idea because we live in such a touristy town. When time is tight especially with work, it just makes a lot of sense.


Patricia Cretan
Retired  


Where do you live?
Burlingame
What do you usually do during the summer? We usually go away for a week or two at different times of the summer.
What’s your big trip this summer? Two small trips ... one to Los Angeles to celebrate our granddaughter’s first birthday and our annual trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore., in August.
Is there anything different about your plans this summer? Not really. We prefer not to take big vacations in the summer as we’d rather travel other times of the year.
Has the economy had an effect on your travel plans? No, it hasn’t.
Have you ever planned a staycation? Yes, we did that last year for a week.
How was it? When we did our staycation, it didn’t really feel like a vacation. I think it’s better to get away if you can.

 

 

Projected changes in US traveler behavior


Travel habits for many Americans will be similar to last year.

  January February March May August September March
Activity
2009 2009 2009 2009 2009 2009 2010
Take fewer trips
25% 29% 21% 22% 17% 17% 16%
Choose closer destinations 14% 14% 21% 19% 17% 17% 16%
Take shorter trips 12% 13% 20% 20% 16% 16% 15%
Spend less money on leisure travel 23% 23% 31% 28% 24% 24% 22%
Stay with friends, family vs. paid accommodations 22% 21% 24% 23% 22% 22% 21%
Choose to drive vs. fly 24% 24% 25% 30% 24% 28% 28%


Source: California Travel and Tourism Commission

 

 

Travel at SFO


International Flights

  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
May 338,160 347,089 369,673 381,711 334,722
June 357,322 371,107 389,158 402,264 358,165
July 403,976 429,859 443,615 450,792 423,061
August 404,070 422,070 441,332 458,546 441,000

 
Domestic Flights
    

  2005
2006 2007 2008
2009
May
1,082,002 1,055,520
1,141,844 1,254,968 1,240,812
June 1,145,959 1,109,576 1,200,405 1,300,376 1,314,989
July 1,223,346 1,193,388 1,259,812 1,373,770 1,418,231
August 1,210,371 1,161,371 1,284,563 1,361,484 1,410,368

Source: SFO

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