Chevy Chase may not be part of your family and you may not be heading for Walley World as the Griswolds did in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. But a AAA Travel Survey reports more than one-third of Americans (35%) plan to take a family vacation over the next 12 months.
Lower gas prices — the lowest in 12 years — has resulted in nearly $12 billion in fuel savings and is the driving force for many Americans to hit the road. 55% polled said affordable gas is the impetus behind their plans to travel more than 50 miles away from home sometime this year
The most popular types of vacations for traveling families, according to the survey, are:
- Road trips (69%)
- National parks (49%)
- Theme parks (42%)
- International destinations (26%) and
- Cruises (19%)
In Connecticut, an informal poll of the eight AAA Northeast branches in Litchfield, New Haven, and Fairfield Counties identifies Mystic Seaport/Aquarium, Lake Compounce, and the Casinos as the most popular vacation for member families.
And what’s the most important part of taking a family vacation? Two-thirds of Americans claim spending quality time as a family is most valuable. “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,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of travel and publishing, based in Heathrow, Fla.
So if you’re planning your family road trip with visits to national parks or theme parks; embarking on a family cruise or heading overseas, here’s what AAA recommends:
- Road Trips: Map out your route in advance using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or visiting a AAA office. While in a car, take frequent stops, about every 100 miles or two hours, to remain alert; buckle up; and drive at the speed limit.
- National Parks: Celebrate the centennial anniversary this year in a National Park. The closest national park to Connecticut is Acadia in Bar Harbor Me, a 47,000-acre reserve whose landscape is marked by woodland, rocky beaches and granite peaks like Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the United States’ East Coast. Visit www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm.
- Theme Parks: Florida and Southern California theme parks are always popular with families as new attractions debut annually. However, in our own backyard, Connecticut boasts Lake Compounce (www.lakecompounce.com) and Quassy (www.quassy.com). In the New England region, there also is Six Flags New England (www.sixflags.com) in nearby Massachusetts. AAA offers discount tickets to these and other national amusement parks such as DisneyWorld Orlando, and Hershey Park. Visit www.aaa.com for a complete list.
- International Vacations: Many families are heading to Rome, London and Paris because of favorable exchange rates. The current strength of the dollar makes international travel especially affordable now so Americans will get more for their money when visiting foreign destinations.
- Cruises: Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) forecasts 24 million vacationers – 1 million more than last year — will cruise the world’s waterways in 2016. River cruising – trips down the Danube, Mississippi, or other major rivers – are also popular. Experienced travel agents can help first-time cruisers identify the line, ship and itinerary that best suits their family needs.
These findings are the results of a telephone survey of 1,002 Americans living in the continental US. It was administered by ORC International, a global market research company, as part of its weekly CARAVAN omnibus survey. It has an average statistical error of 3.6% at a 95% confidence level.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 61 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.