Weather could produce banner maple sugar season (AP)

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

CONCORD, N.H. – Tourism officials and maple syrup producers are predicting a banner year this sap season.

The abundance of rain in the fall and the amount of snow still on the ground are the markers of a good season.

The sap collecting season usually runs from mid-February to mid-April, and yields an average of 90,000 gallons of maple syrup in New Hampshire.

It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

Sixty maple sugar houses are expected to be open and operating during the annual Maple Weekend, which takes place March 19th and 20th.

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Foreign tourists slow to return to Egypt (AP)

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

CAIRO – As hundreds of Egyptian college students rallied at the iconic pyramids of Giza Friday to promote tourism, camel guide Salah Shabani stood to the side and looked on with sadness.

It’s been two weeks since a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak from power, but there has been no return of the crowds of foreigners who come to gaze at the pyramids and get their picture on a camel.

“I used to make 600 Egyptian pounds ($102) a week, or more,” said Shabani, 23, who has given visitors rides on his camel, Oscar, since he was a teenager. “Now there is nothing. There are no tourists.”

Shabani, who married two months ago, said he worries he won’t be able to support his wife and has doubts about having children. He said he didn’t regret the uprising — many Egyptians are still savoring a victory that has captured the attention of people around the world and sparked similar protests across the Middle East — but the reality that it could have negative consequences has set in.

Tourism in this tourist mecca known for pyramids, mummies, colorful markets and the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh has all but come to a halt since the uprising began in January and eventually forced Mubarak out on Feb. 11.

About 210,000 tourists fled the country in the last week of January, costing Egypt about $178 million, according to the government’s statistics bureau, and cancellations for February add up to an estimated revenue loss of $825 million.

That is a lot for a nation that gets 5 percent to 6 percent of its gross domestic product from tourism, according to several estimates. As many as 2 million Egyptians work in tourism.

Students who organized Friday’s rally said they hoped to combat any perception that Egypt is not safe. They painted their faces with the Egyptian flag, carried signs that said, “Trust me, I’m Egyptian,” and wore black T-shirts that said: “I love Egypt.”

“If I were a tourist, and seeing all the recent events, I might be afraid to be around here,” said George Wagdy, a 23-year-old college graduate who just finished his military service and is looking for a job as an English and Spanish translator. “But what we are saying now that Egypt is safe and everything is back to normal.”

Still, there were only a handful of foreigners at the pyramids, a far different scene than the usual dozens of packed tour buses coming and going all day.

Penelope Martinez, a 29-year-old from Mexico City, said she and her traveling companion, her 18-year-old sister, seriously considered canceling their trip.

“A lot of friends and family said we shouldn’t come,” said Martinez, who noted that many people perceive Mexico as unsafe after much drug-related violence and kidnappings in recent years.

“But I thought that if I feel safe going out in my country, I should feel OK here,” she said. “We have only been here two days, but so far we feel very safe.”

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Michelin France guide upgrades 51 top eateries (AP)

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

PARIS – The arbiter of fine cuisine, the Michelin Red Guide, has added more than 50 restaurants to its annual listing of premier eateries in France — but cut the number honored with its very top grade.

The 111-year-old guidebook elevated 51 restaurants to either one- or two-star rankings, including a second star for Japanese chef Shinichi Sato at Paris’ Passage 53.

For the first time in nearly a generation, the guide’s anonymous inspectors couldn’t find any newcomers for its ultra-elite list of three-star restaurants, whose ranks actually shrank by one to 25.

Michelin said Monday that reflected diners’ ongoing shift to favoring more value-oriented and casual bistro-style eating to the white tablecloths that predominate in the three-star dining world.

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Alaska Airlines Offers Hawaii Flights On Sale

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

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Low fares starting at $159* from the West Coast, $259* from the state of Alaska

SEATTLE, Feb. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Alaska Airlines launched a sale today with low fares to Hawaii‘s most popular vacation destinations from several West Coast cities and Alaska, including Anchorage, Alaska, Bellingham, Wash., and Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and San Diego, Calif. One-way fares start as low as $159* from the West Coast and $259* from Alaska.

Fares are valid for travel starting May 1 from the West Coast and from June 10, 2011, from the state of Alaska. Tickets must be purchased by March 9, 2011, and travel end dates vary, as noted below.

“Travel to Hawaii has never been more affordable,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing. “With our increased service from the West Coast to Hawaii, our travelers have more flights to choose from and great low fares on Alaska‘s award-winning service to the Islands.”

Sample one-way fares:

Travel end dates: Travel must be completed by May 28, 2011, between Sacramento and Maui, Oakland and the Big Island of Hawaii, San Jose and Maui, and San Jose and the Big Island of Hawaii. Travel must be completed by June 9, 2011, between Oakland and Kauai, San Jose and Kauai, San Diego and Maui, and Bellingham and Honolulu. Travel must be completed by August 22, 2011, between Alaska and Honolulu.

Not all flights operate every day, and blackout dates apply. A complete list of fares and days of travel is available at or by calling 1-800-ALASKAAIR (800-252-7522 or TTY/TDD line 800-392-0228).

Bundle and save with Alaska Airlines Vacations that offer affordable Hawaiian package deals to Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. Packages include air transportation, hotel accommodations, and optional ground transportation, tours and sightseeing activities. Call Alaska Airlines Vacations at 1-800-468-2248, or visit

All Hawaii flights are operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft, accommodating 16 passengers in first class and 141 in the main cabin. Inflight service includes meals for purchase in the main cabin, complimentary meal service in first class, and Alaska Airlines’ digEplayer, a personal entertainment system offering a variety of movies, television shows, music and other features.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers” in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008, 2009 and 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Studies (SM). For reservations, visit For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at .

* General terms and conditions: Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights or all days. Some markets may not operate daily service. Some flights may operate in conjunction with Horizon Air or one of our alliance partners. A ticket purchased at an Alaska Airlines airport location or through a reservation call center will cost $15 more per person than the advertised fare. Travelers are responsible for the following taxes and fees, as applicable: Airport Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9 (amount depends on itinerary), Federal Segment Tax of $3.70 per segment (takeoff and landing), September 11 Security Fee of $2.50 per enplanement. All taxes and fees shown are based on one-way travel and may be doubled if traveling roundtrip. Tickets are nonrefundable. Changes made at incur a $75 per person change fee and any difference in fare. Ticket changes made through an Alaska Airlines reservation call center or airport ticket counter incur a $100 per person change fee and any difference in fare. A $20 baggage fee will apply for each of the first three bags. Additional fees apply to check more than three bags and for overweight or oversized items. See checked baggage policy at for more details. Other restrictions — such as fare rules, blackout dates, change fees and advance purchase requirements — may apply. See or call Alaska Airlines’ reservations at 1-800-252-7522 for more information.

SOURCE Alaska Airlines

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Jetsetter releases a

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Jetsetter, Gilt’s exclusive site for travel sales launched an iPhone app over the weekend, and it’s making me wish I could take a paycut in lieu of more vacation days.

Jetsetter has replaced the days of offline travel agents, offering a valuable platform of customer service and expert advice. It offers daily, time-limited sales of up to 50% off of a curated list of 5-star and boutique hotels and spa, ski and beach vacations such as weekend trips to wine country or Las Vegas, Mexico all-inclusive packages, Macchu Picchu treks, Kenyan safaris and Mediterranean cruises.

Like its mother site, the app is beautifully designed. Open up the app to view upcoming and current sales, as well as book hotel rooms and vacation packages in minutes. The robust app lets you peruse editorial reviews and photos of each hotel. Check out Jetsetter’s editorial reviews under “What We Love,” then read “The Fine Print” section for details and check out the hotel’s location under “Map.”

While the app just offers flash sales currently, retail will be added to the iPhone in next 3-6 months. Jetsetter will soon be taking full advantage of its mobility by releasing realtime sale alerts.

Jetsetter is members-only but for a limited time all iPhone users can shop the app without having to join. If you like it, use this link for membership access.

High end travelers purchasing pricey vacations demand high quality customer service. This past week, Jetsetter’s eight-person, NYC based service team interacted with more than 2,500 members.  In fact, according to Jetsetter, more than 90% of calls were answered in under 20 seconds. They also boasted a 100% resolution rate to the members’ request on all snowstorm based questions. Suddenly online customer service got a lot more personal.

According to a post-stay customer survey conducted in August 2010, 84 % of Jetsetter members booked a hotel based exclusively on Jetsetter’s recommendation. And upon return, 90% said they would recommend the hotel to a friend.

We recently wrote about Jetsetter’s partnership with travel exploration site Wanderfly, and Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson thinks 2011 will be the year of inspiration.

“There are dozens of travel sites helping travelers get from Point A to Point B, but no one website helps travelers decide where to go. Jetsetter is like a glossy travel magazine, inspiring vacation ideas through beautiful photography and first person reviews, but it also provides the ease of booking and price transparency of a traditional travel site.”

Jetsetter currently has four employees working fulltime on mobile and they are hiring additional engineers. An Android app is coming next. And the iPad is of course coming and “will blow minds” according to Jetsetter. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with skateboarding and karaoke-ing CEO Drew Patterson about what’s in store for Jetsetter in 2011.

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Cost of a passport comes with the tour, courtesy of Rick Steves

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

There’s no telling how far a passport might take you.

Rick Steves said he got his passport at age 14 to take a family trip to Germany, which led to more trips to Europe, which led to writing guidebooks and tour itineraries, which led to a travel company that takes about 10,000 Americans abroad every year. You get the idea.

The deal: To inspire more Americans to leave the country, Steves has launched a No Passport? No Problem! program that pledges to underwrite the cost of a first-time passport for anyone who signs up for one of his company’s tours.

“It’s a marketing gimmick in one sense, but I think it’s really accomplishing something,” says Steves, whose travel empire includes radio and TV travel-destination shows. “… The best souvenir is to bring home a new perspective.”

It’s hard to say exactly how many Americans have passports. In a briefing last year,  Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary of State for passport services, estimated that a third of the U.S. population have passports. And nearly 14 million passports and passport cards were issued in 2010, according to the State Department’s Passport Statistics Web page.

Tested: Here’s how Steves’ deal works for those he calls “travel virgins”: Sign up for any of his company’s 2011 tours by putting down a $400 deposit, and the first-first-time passport fees ($135 for an adult and $105 for a minor on the trip) will be deducted from the final tour balance. A family of four could really cash in.

You’ll need to send in a copy of your first-time 2011 passport and a dated purchase receipt to receive the discount.

So why did Steves take that first trip to Germany? To tour piano factories; his dad imported pianos.

Contact: Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door, (425) 771-8303

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Top Ten Reasons to Follow your Cactus League Team to Arizona

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Cincinnati – Grand Canyon State Welcomes Fans for 15 Spring Training Teams

It’s time to play ball! The “boys of spring” are back in Arizona and the state is ready to host 15 Spring Training teams, as well as their dedicated fans. The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) offers the following list of the Top Ten Reasons to Follow Your Cactus League Team to the Grand Canyon State.

1. Deals, Deals and More Deals, Visitors to Arizona can access, AOT’s travel value Web site, to find special travel deals on moderate to world-class accommodations, attractions, shopping, dining and more.

2. Leave your Mittens at Home – The average daily high temperature in the greater Phoenix area in March is 75 degrees and sunshine is almost always guaranteed. Warm days and cool evenings provide the perfect backdrop for watching some incredible baseball and exploring one of the most exciting destinations in the U.S.

3. A Dose of Culture – The Grand Canyon State is a crossroad of cultures where many different traditions have met and combined into a unique tradition that defines Arizona. Explore the historic locations dedicated to the state’s Old West, Mexican and Native American heritage. You’ll find yourself intrigued, as well, by a remarkable array of fine-art venues, including historic theatres, colorful galleries, and renowned museums, such as the Heard Museum or the Musical Instrument Museum.

4. Bring Your Clubs – With more than 300 golf courses in the state, there is no reason your golf clubs should sit at home. Ranging from rolling green fairways, to cactus-studded desert landscaping, Arizona golf is unparalleled. Live the Arizona golf experience by playing one of the area’s reasonable daily fee courses or indulge at an incredible resort course. You can play like the pros at TPC Scottsdale (, which hosts one of the most popular stops on the PGA circuit, the Waste Management Open. The award-winning We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, located in the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, was designed by the golf course architectural team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and is a must-see for all golf lovers.

5. Take a Hike – The Greater Phoenix area is home to some of the state’s most amazing hiking trails. Camelback Mountain, uniquely situated in the heart of the city, offers a challenging hike with breathtaking views. South Mountain Park/Preserve boasts 58 miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking for all ability levels. The McDowell Mountain Regional Park covers nearly 22,000 pristine desert acres in Scottsdale. Based on the central location of all of these hikes, you can easily squeeze some outdoor activity into each day.

6. Hit the Road – The timing of the Spring Training games is ideal for visitors to extend their stay and take advantage of all that Arizona has to offer. The Phoenix area serves as an excellent hub for making day trips to Arizona’s nearby scenic attractions. One of the most incredible ways to see the state is on one of Arizona’s 22 Scenic Roads. Check out for an overview and itinerary planning assistance. Sedona, which has been heralded as “The Most Beautiful Place in America,” is only two hours away and Tucson and Southern Arizona provide an easy getaway from the metropolitan area.

7. Relax and Rejuvenate – If cheering on your baseball team takes it all out of you, check into one of the area’s luxurious spas to recharge. From traditional Native American healing treatments to innovative Asian practices, Arizona spas run the gamut when it comes to pampering. In fact, three Arizona spas were named to Travel + Leisure’s “Top 10 Destination Spas in the World” list – Miraval – Life in Balance and Canyon Ranch in Tucson, and Mii amo in Sedona.

8. Shop ‘til you Drop – There are hundreds of indoor and outdoor malls, antique stores, clothing boutiques, gift shops, and art galleries – each offering the latest fashions and gifts that are uniquely Arizona. Scottsdale Fashion Square ( is the largest shopping center in the Southwestern U.S. and will keep serious shoppers entertained all day. Downtown Glendale ( is consistently rated as one of the top antiquing destinations in the U.S. and, Arizona Mills in Tempe offers designer goods at a fraction of the price ( Downtown Mesa has a plethora of unique boutiques that might piqué your interest as well!

9. The Grand Canyon – A trip to Arizona wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the state’s signature landmark – the Grand Canyon (! Whether you take a scenic flight with one of the companies that operate out of the Greater Phoenix area, or you hop in the car for the breathtaking three and a half hour drive, the Grand Canyon is truly majestic in the spring. Nothing compares to seeing the Canyon and with fewer visitors than during the popular summer months, visiting the Grand Canyon in the spring offers the opportunity for quality time with friends and family.

10. Paint the Town Red – Don’t let Arizona’s laid back image fool you, because when the sun sets, things really start to come to life in the Valley of the Sun. Art lovers can hit the First Fridays Art Walk in Downtown Phoenix on the first Friday of each month, every Thursday in Scottsdale or Tempe, and the first Saturday in Glendale and Chandler, making an evening out of perusing the galleries and indulging in some of the nation’s best cuisine. Arizona is home to several James Beard award-winning chefs and Food and Wine “Best New Chefs in America,” and their culinary talents can be sampled in restaurants throughout the state. The party doesn’t end after dinner, as the night clubs, jazz bars and cantinas continue in the revelry.

For additional media information, visit For additional Arizona travel information, call toll free at 866-298-3312 or visit

For more information on the Cactus League, visit Cactus League Teams are the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers.

Editor’s Note: The Arizona Office of Tourism has a wide selection of images and scenic b-roll available upon request.

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Destin Spring Break Travel Deals For Families

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Experience the Holiday Isle difference at Oceania. This hallmark Gulf-front Destin property offers spacious units and luxurious accommodations for families on spring break .

Destin is not a college student’s spring break hangout. Our properties are affordable enough for guest to enjoy all the family-oriented events happening around Destin.

Destin, Florida (Vocus/PRWEB) February 28, 2011

Known for its emerald green waters and glimmering white sands, Destin, Florida, isn’t your average spring break destination hot spot. This peaceful slice of heaven on northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast offers some of the best family vacation experiences imaginable. Guests who stay with Holiday Isle Properties–a premier vacation rental management firm, specializing in Destin, Florida, rentals– this spring (and beyond) can expect the absolute best in accommodations and family-fun activities.

“Destin is not a college student’s spring break hangout,” says Holiday Isle Properties Owner Patricia Denny. “Our properties are more suited for vacationing families, and are affordable enough for guests to bring their kids, and enjoy all the wonderful, family-oriented events happening around Destin.”

From fishing excursions to adventurous water activities like snorkeling, jet skiing, kayaking and scuba diving, there is no shortage of spring break excitement in Destin, Florida. Families with younger children will appreciate the tropical mini-golf course and go-kart track, both located at the area’s number one place for fun, Big Kahuna’s Water Park. With plenty of shopping and dining options abound, there’s a little something for everyone in Destin! Be sure to visit Back Porch Restaurant or Lucky Snapper Grill. These beach-side restaurants offer the best in local seafood and water-front dining.

You do not want to pass up Holiday Isle’s blow out spring break deals, offering 25-50% off select properties, available for rent between March 12-26. Ranging in size, price, and amenities, Holiday Isle has the ideal Destin condo rental to suit your family’s every need. Smaller groups will love the studio and 1 BR accommodations at Sand Piper Cove. Larger parties can enjoy the spacious accommodations in Holiday Isle’s Harbor and Gulf-front vacation rentals, especially those in Oceania Destin. Please keep in mind that Holiday Isle will not book to single groups under the age of 25. This policy is meant to ensure families with the quiet and relaxing spring break vacation they deserve. Weekly inclusive deals for spring break are priced as follows:

-Studio condominiums from $550

-Select 1 BR condominiums for $550

-Beachwalk 2 BR condominiums from $1k

-Select 1 BR beach-front condominiums from $750

-Select 2 BR jetty-side starting at $800

-Select 2 BR beach-side accommodations starting at $950

-Homes with pools starting at $2k

-Homes without pools starting at $1700

-Select 2 BR units on the Harbor starting at $700

-Luxury 3 BR units on the Harbor starting at $1300

-Luxury 3 BR beach-front condos w/heated pool for $2100

-Huge Gulf-front homes at $3600

-Select 2 BR townhomes starting $910

With Holiday Isle’s unbeatable prices, and Destin’s kid-friendly reputation, there’s no better time to take an unforgettable spring break vacation with your family. Still need convincing? While parts of the country are still defrosting from this year’s harsh winter, Destin is experiencing pleasant 60-70 degree temperatures in February and March. Check out this latest ShoreShots video to get an inside peek at Destin’s amazing beaches. Don’t forget, Holiday Isle has the perfect Destin beachfront rental for you.

What are you waiting for? Book your family’s spring break vacation today. Holiday Isle’s available properties are booking up quickly. To ensure your family gets the cream of the crop, call to reserve your Destin beach vacation rental now. For more information or to book, call 800-837-5102.



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Travel gear: IPad case doubles as Bluetooth keyboard

February 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Accessory Workshop’s tyPad Bluetooth Enabled Keyboard Case ($99.99) is a folding, leatherette iPad case with a built-in, Bluetooth-enabled wireless keyboard.

The case, which also functions as an iPad stand, offers a compact alternative to the iPad’s touch screen. It includes a rechargeable lithium battery and a USB port connector and cable for charging the device.

Info: tyPad, (888) 691-3047

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Gas prices changing how Granite Staters travel

February 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

It’s hard to know what caused the most disgusted looks among motorists at the Bow Mobil service station off Interstate 89 on Friday morning: the snow or the 6-cent overnight jump in gas prices.

Toss in the fact they were buying the most expensive regular grade in the state, and you have the ingredients for some serious gas pains.

“I, honestly, was shocked,” said George Foulds of Dunbarton. “I was just here a few days ago. I don’t understand how the price can shoot up there so fast.”

Either cash or credit, the price of gas Friday at the “Famous Bow Mobile” is the highest in the state according to

The average price of a gallon of gasoline rose 14 cents in the past week, according to the website, and some analysts are forecasting $4 a gallon before the snowcap melts. That’s enough to cause some motorists to rethink travel routines.

Of 574 respondents to an online survey conducted last week by the New Hampshire Sunday News, 69.9 percent said they would alter their daily driving habits if gas hit $4 a gallon; 59.1 percent said they would switch to walking or bicycling when warmer weather returns; 44.5 percent said they would be willing to carpool.

“I commute roughly 56 highway miles, round-trip, five days a week,” said Melissa of Manchester, who asked that her last name not be used. “I am already starting to look for jobs closer to home and driving slower to conserve gas.”

She would be willing to work for less money if she could reduce her commute. “Even now, I could take a significant cut in pay and still take home the same amount of money due to the price of gas. Should the prices shoot up to $4, I’m not sure I could afford to commute.”

Said Dennis Gilbert of Manchester: “I commute 80 miles a day, minimum, with a 2004 Ford F150 pickup truck, but rarely need to use the pickup bed. If gas prices stay at $3.50 a gallon, I can buy a new 35 mpg car, and the fuel savings will literally pay for itself.”

How to get more out of a gallon

John Follis of Litchfield said he commutes at least 100 miles a day for his job with Verizon in Saugus, Mass. “There isn’t much I can do even if gas hits $4 a gallon,” he said. “There isn’t anyone to commute with, and I’m happy to have a job to go to.

“I’d like to see the prices drop as quickly as they go up,” he added.

February gas prices have already hit a record high in New Hampshire, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Websites such as help motorists find the best gas prices. Prices posted along a three-mile stretch of Route 102 in Londonderry on Friday morning varied. The price for regular was $3.25 a gallon at a Hess station; $3.19 at a BP station; $3.14 at a 7-Eleven; and $3.11 at a Global station. By Saturday afternoon, the website reported gas prices had jumped to $3.23 at 7-Eleven and Global.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the highest gas prices in the state were $3.45 for regular at Mobil stations in Bow and Lincoln. The lowest was $2.99 a gallon at Samuels in Portsmouth.

Some people are willing to stray a little from their typical commute to get lower prices. In the Sunday News survey, 76.6 percent of respondents said they would drive almost five miles extra to find cheaper gas; 18.7 percent would travel five to 10 miles; and 4.7 percent would go more than 10 miles out of their normal travel routes to get a good deal.

More riding the bus

While gas customers are being clobbered, diesel users are being hit even harder. AAA reports that diesel fuel costs have been higher than $3 a gallon since October. reported at least one diesel station in Northfield charging $3.95 a gallon Friday afternoon.

Compare that with diesel prices a year ago, which hovered around $2.60, and it’s easy to see how businesses are being affected, too.

Ben Blunt, general manager of Boston Express (which provides commuter bus service from Nashua, Manchester, Londonderry and Salem to points throughout Boston and Logan Airport), says the company has seen an increase in riders in recent weeks.

“It’s hard to pull out a reason these past two weeks, given the combination of weather, school vacations and higher gas prices,” said Blunt. “But we are definitely experiencing more calls than usual.”

Boston Express didn’t exist the last time gas prices were as high as they are now, which AAA Northern New England reports was in October 2008. At that time, Blunt worked at Concord Coach Lines and there was a “definite correlation” between the higher prices and increased ridership on the commuter buses.

Meanwhile, bus companies must cope with higher costs, too.

“At this time, we have no plans to raise our prices,” said Blunt. “But if diesel hits $5 a gallon and stays there awhile, we’ll have to look at the situation again at that time.”

Why do prices differ?

Turmoil in Libya and political uncertainties in other oil-producing countries are major factors in how much we pay at the pump. The cost of crude oil drives the price of gasoline, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Lesser factors include the distance a station is from its source of supply: ports, refineries, and pipeline and blending terminals.

Then there are the oil companies themselves.

“Don’t blame us. We’re told what price to charge,” said an employee at the Bow Mobil, who asked that his name not be used. “The oil company gives us the price. It’s not up to us.”

Jerry Elliott of Jaffrey said: “I work at one of the gas stations in town, and they say that they have to pay more for gas because it costs more to bring it to Jaffrey. I go to (neighboring) Peterborough and get it for 10 cents a gallon less. This town is in a world of it’s own. No gas goes up like Jaffrey’s.”

AAA says drivers should try to use regular gas to save money. According to AAA’s Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying Network, regular gas will work “just fine” in a car whose manufacturer “recommends” using premium gas. If, however, an owner’s manual says premium gas is “required,” it’s best to follow those guidelines, AAA says.

Tourism officials optimistic

Although 59 percent of the online survey respondents said high gas prices would affect their travel plans this summer, two tourism associations aren’t concerned yet.

Matt Lutz puts the new prices for gas on the pumps at the Hess Station on Route 3A in Hooksett Friday morning.

“New Hampshire has an advantage when it comes to gas prices: We are almost always lower than the national average for gas prices,” said Tai Freligh, communications manager for the state’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development. “Add to that the fact that we are a compact state where you can get from one end to the other on one tank of gas and that we also have many highly walkable cities, and we are in a good position to weather the storm.”

“In situations like this, we as an area seem to fare pretty well,” said Jayne O’Connor, president of the White Mountains Attractions Association, which comprises Clark’s Trading Post, the Conway Scenic Railroad, Santa’s Village and Story Land, among other sites. “There’s a lot for people to do in a relatively small area, and people appreciate that. We’re a good option that’s close to home in our market.”

Freligh said his department developed a program several years ago to help entice visitors during tough times.

“Something similar happened in the spring of 2008, where gas prices almost hit $4 a gallon,” said Freligh. “Back then, we developed a program and a page on our website for special offers from the industry that often included gas cards and other gas-saving discounts. That program is still around today. I fully expect our industry members to start to include more gas-related offers on our Yankee Dollar Stretchers page if the higher prices do come to fruition.”

O’Connor said, “You’ll sometimes see hotels offer packages with some of the attractions we represent, and I expect we’ll see that again this year.”

Good deals might not be enough, however. Some state residents are already thinking about altering travel plans.

“If gas exceeds $4 a gallon, we will have to cancel our road trip to South Carolina,” said Paul Baptiste of Deerfield. “Yesterday, we saw gas jump over 20 cents a gallon at one gas station when we were in Raymond. We were planning on this (trip) because it would have been an inexpensive vacation. Now, if we are looking at half or more of our budget going into the gas tank, it just won’t work.”


Maybe they should travel by train? You know the one the short sighted Republican, veto proof majority wants to stop. As we all now know despite what they told the voters they are opposed to creating jobs. It’s guns, vendettas and kooky agendas that they care about.
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

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