February 18, 2011 / 5:11 PM / in 7 years

After harsh winter, Americans go in search of sun

<p>A couple walks along Marlin beach in Cancun February 1, 2011. REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - After experiencing one of the worst U.S. winters in memory more than a third of Americans are planning to take a break this spring in search of warm weather and sunshine, according to a new poll.

Three-quarters of travelers questioned in the survey said they would be staying in the United States, and Florida was by far the most popular destination, followed by California and Nevada at a distant third.

And despite the lackluster economy, most people will be digging deeper into their pocket for travel money than they did in 2010.

“The purse strings seem to be loosening this year.” said Beth Caulfield, editorial director for AOL Travel, which commissioned the survey of 1,000 travelers across the United States.

“The fact that people are willing to spend the same or more is indicative of some of the positive signs we are seeing in the economy,” she added.

More than 60 percent of travelers will spend between $500 and $2,000 on their trip and 80 percent plan to venture more than 250 miles from home.

“The men were the bigger spenders,” Caufield said, adding that 50 percent said they were planning a trip costing between $1,000 and $5,000, compared to only 37 percent of women.

“There is definitely a disconnect in the way men and women tend to think about money when they are traveling,” she added.

Residents of the midwestern states will be going the farthest from home and taking the most time off, about six days, compared to other regions of the country.

Northeasterners were also planning longer trips and had the biggest budgets, with nearly half saying they would spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on the holiday.

And while people from other regions will be traveling to Florida, residents of the sunshine state were the most likely not to stray too far and to be driving to their destination. For Floridians going abroad, the Caribbean was a top choice.

Many Westerners also said they would be staying close to home, but for those going farther away Hawaii and Mexico were popular destinations.

Although 60 percent of people knew where they were going when they were questioned in the January poll, 75 percent had not booked flights or made travel arrangements.

The complete AOL Travel survey results can be found on aol.it/fussVm.

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