AAA Survey: Hotel rates rise, making vacations more pricey

The mythical American family of four will spend an average of $269.44 a day for lodging and meals this summer, a 3.7% increase over last summer's average, according to AAA's Annual Vacation Costs survey.

The increase, according to AAA, was driven by a 7.9% rise in lodging rates. Meal costs actually dropped 1.3%, AAA said.

But the average price won't get vacationers into the most popular destinations. The hot spots, as always, will cost a little more:  as much as $583.66 a day for Honolulu, the most expensive city in the survey. New York, at $523.62, was the only other city to break the $500-per-day barrier.

A look at the five most expensive cities shows that the averages mask some variations in lodging and food prices. For example, Miami's average hotel cost is more than $100 above that of San Diego, but San Diego's meal costs are higher than any other city save New York.

Other anomalies abound. Jacksonville, Fla., for example, ranks 17th among the top cities for hotel costs, but 41st in meal costs.

Comparison data for 2006 is not available, because this is the first year that AAA's survey has included average prices for a broad selection of cities. The survey has traditionally focused on states.

The available statewide data also suggests that prices are rising faster in Hawaii than elsewhere. Hawaii's statewide total of $650.51 a day, for example, represents a 17.5% increase, but Florida and California, with average daily costs of about $320, each showed only single-digit increases. Average costs for New York state, by contrast, dropped a percentage point to $326.42.

AAA has been tracking family vacation costs since 1950, when the national average daily cost for meals and lodging was $13 for a family of four.   

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