More than one-third of Amer­i­cans will take a fam­ily va­ca­tion this year, AAA re­ports

The Calvert Recorder - Southern Maryland Automotive Trends - - News -

As fam­i­lies across the coun­try ea­gerly await the end of school and the be­gin­ning of sum­mer, mil­lions of Amer­i­cans are mak­ing plans to travel with loved ones this year. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent AAA sur­vey, more than one-third of Amer­i­cans (35 per­cent) are plan­ning to take a fam­ily va­ca­tion of 50 miles or more away from home in­volv­ing two or more im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers in the next 12 months.

AAA es­ti­mates that U.S. driv­ers have saved nearly $12 bil­lion on gas so far this year com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2015, and driv­ers this sum­mer should pay the low­est gas prices in 12 years. Th­ese lower gas prices have helped mo­ti­vate Amer­i­cans to drive at record lev­els, and prompted many fam­i­lies to take road trips this year. Fifty-five per­cent of Amer­i­cans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices.

Road trips (69 per­cent), na­tional parks (49 per­cent) and theme parks (42 per­cent) are the most pop­u­lar types of va­ca­tions for fam­i­lies plan­ning to travel in the next year. Va­ca­tions to in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions (26 per­cent) and cruises (19 per­cent) round out the top five most pop­u­lar va­ca­tion op­tions for trav­el­ing fam­i­lies.

“Two-thirds of Amer­i­cans say spend­ing qual­ity time as a fam­ily is the most important part of tak­ing a fam­ily va­ca­tion,” said Bill Suther­land, AAA se­nior vice pres­i­dent of travel and pub­lish­ing. “Whether it’s a cross-coun­try road trip or a dream va­ca­tion to a far-off des­ti­na­tion, travel of­fers busy fam­i­lies an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to share ex­pe­ri­ences and con­nect with each other in mean­ing­ful ways.”

AAA Travel ex­perts of­fer tips for fam­i­lies plan­ning va­ca­tions this year: • Road trips: AAA rec­om­mends trav­el­ers map out a route in ad­vance to make the most of their road trip. Driv­ers should plan fre­quent stops, about ev­ery 100 miles or two hours, to re­main alert. Tools such as AAA’s TripTik Travel Plan­ner, in desk­top and app ver­sions, can help fam­i­lies find AAA Di­a­mond Rated ho­tels and restau­rants, gas prices and plan fun stops along the way. • Na­tional Parks: The Na­tional Park

Ser­vice cel­e­brates its cen­ten­nial an­niver­sary in 2016, mak­ing it a great year for trav­el­ers to dis­cover the parks. The most pop­u­lar na­tional parks, such as Great Smoky Moun­tains, Grand Canyon and Yosemite, may reach ca­pac­ity dur­ing peak travel times, so plan ahead. For fam­i­lies trav­el­ing on a bud­get, na­tional parks are waiv­ing en­trance fees this year April 16-24, Aug. 25-28, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11.

• Theme parks: Theme parks in Or­lando and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia are ex­pected to con­tinue grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity with fam­i­lies this sum­mer, as new at­trac­tions de­but at theme parks coast-to-coast. For fam­i­lies with flex­i­ble travel sched­ules, early May and Septem­ber are great times to visit theme parks, when trav­el­ers can experience lighter crowds and shorter lines. • In­ter­na­tional va­ca­tions: Fa­vor­able

ex­change rates and dis­counted pric­ing are help­ing many fam­i­lies plan trips to in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions this year. The cur­rent strength of the dol­lar makes in­ter­na­tional travel es­pe­cially af­ford­able right now and Amer­i­cans will get more for their money when vis­it­ing des­ti­na­tions around the world. • Cruises: Cruises of­fer a va­ri­ety of

ac­tiv­i­ties for all ages, plus chil­dren’s pro­grams that give par­ents a chance to re­lax

and un­wind. Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion (CLIA) fore­casts 24 mil­lion

va­ca­tion­ers will cruise the world’s wa­ter­ways in 2016, one mil­lion more than last year. Ex­pe­ri­enced travel agents can help first-time cruis­ers iden­tify the cruise line, ship and itin­er­ary that best suits their fam­ily.

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