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updated 6/29/2010 1:55:46 PM ET 2010-06-29T17:55:46

More Americans are planning vacations away from home this Fourth of July weekend, even as summer travelers plan to stick to tight budgets, according to two recent surveys.

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Auto club AAA forecast that about 34.9 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over Independence Day weekend, up from 29.8 million during the 2009 holiday.

But fewer people are traveling compared to the more carefree times before the financial crisis. This year's projection is still 7.7 percent below 2008 Independence Day travel levels, and 17.5 percent below the number of travelers during the July Fourth weekend in 2007.

Even as more travelers hit the road on Fourth of July weekend, AAA expects that vacationers will spend less: $644, on median, down from $693 in 2009. It expects lower spending even though hotel rates, airfare and car rental prices are expected to rise.

That's because more budget-conscious travelers are once again planning vacations, said AAA spokesman Troy Green. During the downturn, they were more likely than luxury travelers to stay home.

Slideshow: Summer has arrived

More crowds and lower spending are likely going to be the theme of the summer, according to a survey from insurer Mondial Assistance. It found that 40 percent of Americans said they planned to take a vacation this summer, up from 35 percent who said they took a vacation last summer. The most popular destinations were oceans and beaches or, for road-trippers, just hitting the highway.

But the survey also found that vacationers plan to spend even less than they did in 2009.

The survey, taken from June 3-7, said average spending plans were $1,653 per household, down from reported spending of $1,730 in 2009.

Of course, planning to spend less does not necessarily mean vacationers will spend less.

The Mondial poll surveyed 1,000 randomly selected U.S. adults over telephone. It had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

The AAA forecast is based on research from financial analysis firm IHS Global Insight.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Summer travel? Think Portland, Seattle

  1. Closed captioning of: Summer travel? Think Portland, Seattle

    >>> the summer travel season is in full swing. if you're looking for an urban get away, "travel & leisure" re released the list of best cities. let's go through the list. at the top of it, portland , oregon. why portland ?

    >> portland , oregon, has a little bit of everything. they have the markets. the farmer's market is great. a japanese garden , chinese garden , great opportunities to get outside and enjoy the weather.

    >> such a pretty and clean city, as well.

    >> denver, some place close to your heart. what is it about denver?

    >> i used to live there. you have the easy access to the mountains. there is so much more going on in this city. there is just so many more parks and outdoor opportunities there as well.

    >> okay. seattle. you think seattle, you think rain. but you're not going to have that problem in the summer?

    >> not in the summer. the rainy season is in the winter time . summer time you have great, great weather. great opportunities to get out in the water, take the ferry to bainbridge island and experience the farmer's markets.

    >> i imagine the weather is what plays a lot into these cities. and, you know, look at san diego , come on. it's always beauty in southern california .

    >> always something to do there. the beaches, there's never a bad time to be in san diego .

    >> yeah. what about minneapolis st. paul?

    >> they have a heat wave , but can you escape to the mall of america . in minneapolis, it's all about the lakes. you can go out there and it's a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the water.

    >> isn't inside the mall if, you're stuck in there for a reason, there's a roller coaster , right?

    >> absolutely. yeah.

    >> that will be kind of foun go shopping and then go on the roller coster and say why i did buy? one quick note, new york city , we did not fair so well.

    >> not so much. 25 out of 30. it gets a really humid here in the city. i love new york city . but it's -- it gets a little sticky and you might want to spend more time indoors and not outdoors during the summer time .

    >> understandably so. thank you for joining us.

    >> thank you, alex.

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