RISMEDIA, April 16, 2009-AAA, one of the nation’s largest leisure travel organizations, is suggesting budget-minded consumers seize this summer’s travel bargains as similar savings may not be available in the future.

Now is the time to separate general economic anxiety from personal financial reality. “Given all of the negative economic news of the past six months and our society’s newfound frugality, some otherwise well-off consumers are feeling a little awkward or uneasy about leisure travel this year,” said Doug Bower, vice president of AAA Travel and Financial Services. “For this reason, AAA wants to remind consumers there may never be a better time to travel than this summer.

By carefully assessing our individual economic circumstances and personal travel situation, many of us may realize traveling this year should not be seen as a guilty pleasure, but as something we should get out and enjoy. By going now, we also will be doing our part to get America’s economy moving again.”

AAA’s recommends a quick financial check and a companion “travel needs assessment” before deciding whether to take an extended vacation this summer.

Consumers should consider whether they are:
-One of the estimated 90% of homeowners who are consistently on-time with their mortgage payments, or are always on-time with their rent;
-Among those who have access to some emergency cash to protect against an unexpected financial setback;
-A borrower with a responsible credit history;
-Steadily working on other life-time financial goals, such as student tuitions and/or retirement savings;
-Have a history of steady employment with fairly predictable earnings or have a reliable fixed income;
-Have been able to afford and pay for leisure travel experiences with little difficulty in the past

AAA believes millions of Americans can positively answer these questions, providing reasonable assurance that a vacation trip - even an overseas journey, extended cruise or adventurous package tour - is definitely within reach this year.

Travel decisions are not always about dollars and cents
AAA further suggests travelers may want to self-evaluate their emotional need to travel this year.

The Association’s “Travel Needs Assessment” asks about recent or upcoming life experiences and travel patterns, including:

-Has it been more than 18 months since my last significant vacation?
-When I traveled last, did I bring work or family pressures with me?
-Have my recent travel experiences been to predictable and familiar destinations?
-Have I experienced a loss or other major change in my life that challenged my emotions?
-Am I about to mark a major milestone such as a birthday, graduation, anniversary or career change?
-Have I missed significant occasions when I should have celebrated or rewarded myself?
-Is there a family member or friend that is owed a long-overdue visit?

“Would-be travelers that answer ‘yes’ to any or several of these questions should make travel a high priority budget item this year,” Bower said. “We all need to refresh and renew our emotional well-being from time to time. A trip that is all about relaxation, expanding personal horizons, marking a special or significant occasion or time with family and friends is an excellent method of doing so.