Gas Perks Bring Vacation Spots Closer To Home
SCOTT SIMON, host:
This summer, some families are reconsidering vacation plans because of gas prices. One Midwest destination is the Wisconsin Dells. And like many businesses that depend on motorists, the Dells is offering deals and promotions to try to lure vacationers.
Shamane Mills of Wisconsin Public Radio reports.
SHAMANE MILLS: Long car trips with the family can make some cringe. But for Brian Cowan, it's the preferred way to go.
Mr. BRIAN COWAN: You know, we like to fly as well its fun to get where you're going but there's an awful lot of the country that nobody should miss. It's a beautiful place and a lot of scenery, and we always try to make the travel as much a part of the vacation as the destinations.
MILLS: On this trip the Cowans are less than two hours from home. They're camping in the Wisconsin Dells, a hodgepodge of water and amusement parks in southwest Wisconsin.
(Soundbite of chopping and strong winds)
MILLS: As his son Alex chops firewood, Brian Cowan does dishes on a blustery, cool spring day at a KOA campsite.
Mr. COWAN: Just getting it started, I think the rain is going to be coming in shortly. But sometimes, regardless of whether there's a point to it or not, making a fire when you're camping is just fun - so even if it goes out in a half hour.
MILLS: The Cowans travel together a lot, almost always by car. Though when they go to Vero Beach, Florida this summer, Brian Cowan says this time they'll fly because driving their SUV just wouldn't make sense anymore.
Mr. COWAN: And we've always driven. We've been all over the country and always travelled and pulled the trailer, and gas prices weren't a big factor. But now this year, we had to look twice.
MILLS: With those gas prices in mind, Wisconsin Dells KOA campsite has lots of specials: Free limited RV parking for return customers, free firewood and free campsites with a group meal for those who do spring cleanup.
Owner Jill Brennan greets campers who've agreed to rake and blow leaves.
Ms. JILL BRENNAN (Owner, Wisconsin Dells KOA Campground): Good morning, Ahmad.
AHMAD: Good morning. Good morning.
Ms. BRENNAN: Good to see you again.
AHMAD: Oh, yeah. How are you, Jill?
Ms. BRENNAN: Yeah, it's great.
SHELDON: Good morning.
Ms. BRENNAN: Who have you brought along with you this time?
Ms. BRENNAN: Sheldon. Nice to meet you, Sheldon.
SHELDON: Nice to meet you, too.
Ms. BRENNAN: You've been roped into helping us out with our cleanup this weekend.
SHELDON: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Ms. BRENNAN: That's awesome. Thats awesome.
SHELDON: Yeah, we're ready to work.
(Soundbite of leaf blower)
MILLS: Memorial Day is typically the start of the summer vacation season here. AAA national spokeswoman Heather Hunter says when gas prices were high in 2008 car travel did drop that weekend. Though this year, she predicts vacationers will still drive - just not as far.
Ms. HEATHER HUNTER (National Spokeswoman, Automobile Association of America): Some travelers will offset expensive fuel costs by perhaps travelling shorter distances, reducing the duration of their trip; maybe they'll take a two-night trip instead of a long weekend.
MILLS: The Dells is relatively close to Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and other metro areas. So the high cost of gas might just cut two ways this summer. While more people may fly instead of drive, others will likely change their plans for longer trips and take a vacation that's only a short drive away.
For NPR News, I'm Shamane Mills.
SIMON: This is NPR News.
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