Vacation, Americana-Style! AAA's Least-Expensive U.S. Destinations, 2008

May 29, 2008


“We want to get the word out to people in New Mexico, Colorado and Missouri. You can drive a short way and enjoy a great family experience on your vacation and save money at the same time.”

—Chuck Mai, American Automobile Association’s Oklahoma Spokesman,
on vacationing in Sooner Country this year

Maybe you’ve seen it: The American Auto Association publishes a TourBook travel guide that lists the most and least expensive U.S. vacation spots in a given year. The good news for Missourians is that some of AAA’s least-expensive travel destinations for 2008 are not wildly far from where we live!

The most costly aspect of such trips this year may well be the gasoline getting you there and back. However, that said, if you’re not motoring to New York City (the 2nd-most expensive survey city this year—cost-per-day estimate for two people, including lodging and food: $606.38) you’ll be able to breathe easy once you’ve made it to your chosen getaway locale.

If you can manage to forego Honolulu, this year’s most expensive R & R haven at $673.13 per day for two—Oscar winners, I guess—you can set out for any one of the better-kept holiday secrets to be found closer to home, without selling your soul to beefy, knuckle-dragging leg-breakers, or those persons or institutions they might represent.

For example, according to the Association’s criteria, the recommended amount two adults might spend on a holiday away from home is $244 daily; but Tulsa comes in at $178.78 per day on the new AAA list, and Oklahoma City at $194.69.

More encouraging still is the fact that Oklahoma itself actually ranks 6th on the state list; there are 5 states boasting even lower daily rates for an Americana-themed jaunt this summer! (Those of you with an affinity for outdoor life, Old West history, or Native American culture should note that North Dakota tops this year’s AAA list of modestly-priced holiday venues at $158.75 a day for two!)

The cost of gasoline’s got Americans rethinking everything we do, and with good reason. We’re having to hammer out new strategies just for getting to work and ferrying kids about from day to day; so you know it’ll be necessary to rethink the holiday getaway concept as well.

But we can’t cave; we can’t give in to panic or paralysis. That’s the perfect way to kiss quality of life good-bye! Then what use will it have been, your just going through the motions while taking up space on this crazy spinning orb?

Think fresh, plan smart, and celebrate being here with the people you love! For tomorrow…well, you know the rest.

And have you ever thought of this: Just how much of the United States of America have you actually scanned with your own two eyeballs in your comings and goings? This could be a whole new beginning for me!

I was told of an old Buddhist poem once, and I think the perspective it reveals will be excellent comfort for us in times to come, as we are challenged to examine our lifestyles and make changes for the good:

“My house burned to the ground;
Now, I can see the moon.”


The AAA Vacation Costs Survey
Least-Expensive Travel Spots, 2008

(with links to official tourism sites of each!)

1.   North Dakota      $158.75
2.   Nebraska            $159.65
3.   Kansas               $164. 62
4.   Iowa                   $169.81
5.   South Dakota      $174.83
6.   Oklahoma            $179.80
7.   Alabama              $180.75
8.   Arkansas             $186.09
9.   Mississippi           $187.33
10. Kentucky             $187.76

Also, here’s AAA’s press release for their 2008 survey, with info on their criteria and selection methods…

…And then a very brief but colorful report on the 2008 list can be found here at the Los Angeles Times.

Ahhh, what a breathtaking land we call home!

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