AAA: Texans make spring break plans
Sheridan Lewis, 21, of Tyler, said she will spend three days of her spring break in a cabin near Austin with family and friends.
The Tyler Junior College nursing student said she will spend the rest of her week job shadowing different types of nursing professions at the three hospitals and working on school work. In between that, she said she will be lining out exercise plans for her track and cross country athletes at Grace Community School.
But as soon as Friday hits and her duties are done, she said the books will disappear and the good times will roll.
"Even though I'm right beside my parents at home, I never see them because my nose is in the books, or I'm coaching ..." Ms. Lewis said. "I'm waking up at 4:30 a.m. almost every morning to get ready and study for nursing."
According to AAA Texas, despite the pressure of high gas prices, a majority of Texans made plans to travel on spring break.
According to its fourth annual spring break poll, 55 percent said they are planning at least one trip in March or April, which is 7 percent higher than in 2011, according to a news release from AAA.
Forty-four percent said they intended to take two or more trips, and 21 percent responded with intentions of taking three or more trips.
Sharon Howell, owner of Travel Masters in Tyler, said she booked more trips this year than last. She said last year was a record-breaking year, and so far this year, monthly totals have beaten 2012.
"We have sent people everywhere -- all over the map -- Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, Disney," Ms. Howell said. "It has really been something."
She said she had noticed many families opting for all-inclusive resorts where the costs are upfront and the possible pressure from unseen expenses is small.
Ms. Howell said she believes families are opting to spend their money creating memories, and many have opted for ritzy hotels and vacations.
"I think people are so incredibly saturated with nothing but bad news around them and their frustration level," she said. "They come in here and express to us, 'We've had enough bad news. I earned my money and I'm going to spend my money before the government takes it.'"
According to the AAA Texas survey, 62 percent responded that they made at least one concession in their travel budget because of the cost of fuel, compared 51 percent in 2011, the release states.
Ms. Lewis said she is one of them. She said the cost reserving a cabin during the peak break time plus the cost of gasoline cut their travel plans down to three days. But she is still looking forward to quality family time.
Gas prices have gone down for two consecutive weeks, providing a bright light for those who intend to drive to their destinations, according to a news release from AAA Texas.
On average across Texas, a gallon of fuel costs $3.58, five cents less than a week ago and 15 cents less than the national average, the release states. On average, Texans are paying $50 to fill up a 14-gallon tank.
Drivers in Dallas are paying the most on average at $3.62, while drivers in El Paso are paying the least at $3.48, the release states.
Some families are opting to stay close to home. Casey Heidman, park operations trainee at Tyler State Park, said all of its 180 camping sites have been reserved for about a month. As of Thursday afternoon, the camp was booked solid until March 17. However, the park will still be open to visitors during the day.