"Supply and demand factors can be blamed for these rate increases at lodgings this year, especially in major markets," said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development, which oversees the popular AAA Diamond Ratings. "But also, for both lodgings and restaurants, rising energy prices and increased employee salaries and benefits are having an impact, as well."
Nationwide, AAA's survey shows that a family of two adults and two children can expect to pay an average of $270 per day for food and lodging. Lodging rates will average $152 a night and meals will cost $118.
In South Dakota, AAA reports total vacation costs will average $204 per day, $2 more than last year. That family of four can expect to pay $103 for lodging and $101 for meals. Four states have a lower cost average than South Dakota: North Dakota, $187; Nebraska, $199; Iowa, $201; and Kansas at $201 per day.
The most expensive state for vacationers remains Hawaii, where the daily cost of food and lodging for a family of four will average $650 per day.
Other destinations with a high average daily cost include the District of Columbia at $611; Rhode Island, $345; New York, $326; and New Jersey, $324.
For the first time ever, AAA also assessed average daily vacation costs for U.S. cities. Honolulu ranked highest, with food and lodging for a family of four costing $584 per day. New York and Miami Beach followed with $524 and $409 per day respectively.
The most economical choices include Albuquerque, NM, with a day of food and lodging costing $165; Wichita, KS, $169; and Mesa, AZ, $180.
Rising gas prices coupled with the increase in vacation costs makes it important for travelers to maximize their vacation dollars. AAA.com can help consumers save money by planning ahead. Travelers can locate AAA Approved and Diamond Rated� lodgings and restaurants along their travel route and find the cheapest place to buy gas along the way. Motorists can also use AAA's Fuel Cost Calculator online at fuelcostcalculator.com to determine ahead of time how much money they can expect to pay for fuel based on their specific trip, plus year, make and model of car or pickup.
AAA has been tracking vacation costs since 1950, when the average daily cost of meals and lodgings for a family of four was $13.
AAA's meal and lodging costs are based on prices at more than 60,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated� lodgings and restaurants. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 50 million members (87,435 in South Dakota) with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA South Dakota can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.