Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 14, 2017) – ‘Tis the season to traditionally spend with family and friends and this year Americans are traveling in record numbers. AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Jan. 1. This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

Additional Resources

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

For the 97.4 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

By the Numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: The majority of travelers – 97.4 million – will hit the road (a 3 percent year-over-year increase).
  • Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
  • Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.

Holiday Headache Hotspots
Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. For example, drivers in New York City could see travel times peak at three times a normal trip between 3:30 and 5:30pm.

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier
New York, NY Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:30 – 5:30 PM 3x
Los Angeles, CA Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:30 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
Washington, DC Thursday, Dec. 20 3:00 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
San Francisco, CA Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:00 – 5:30 PM 2x
Chicago, IL Thursday, Dec. 20 4:00 – 6:00 PM 2x
Boston, MA Thursday, Dec. 20 2:30 – 4:30 PM 2x
Seattle, WA Wednesday, Dec. 20 4:00 – 6:00 PM 2x
Atlanta, GA Thursday, Dec. 20 4:30 – 6:30 PM 1.5x
Houston, TX Wednesday, Dec. 20 5:30 – 7:30 PM 1.5x
Detroit, MI Thursday, Dec. 20 3:00 – 5:30 PM 1.5x

Source: INRIX

Travel Tip: Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.

Pricey pump prices to decrease
The 90 percent of holiday travelers choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014. This December’s national average price is $2.47 (Dec. 1-13), which is 28 cents more than last December. The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.

Airfare and hotel rates trend cheaper, car rentals increase year-over-year
Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. On average, 2017 airfares are 5 percent less expensive compared to 2016. Overall, competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline. Travelers can also find savings at AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels. On average, a Three Diamond hotel nightly rate is $156, a two percent year-over-year decrease. The Two Diamond nightly average rate is $121, a five percent decrease from last year.

Similar to Thanksgiving, car rental rates are more expensive on the year. At $74, the daily car rental rate increased 11 percent. This sets a new five-year record high rate for year-end holiday travel. The increase is on par with the rate increases seen at Thanksgiving.

Top 10 Year-End Holiday Travel Destinations
For a second year, Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Warmer weather destinations reign supreme in winter months with Cancun, Kahului (Maui) and Montego Bay gaining in popularity as holiday spots compared with last year.

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Anaheim, Calif.
  3. Cancun, Mexico
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Kahului (Maui), Hawaii
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  8. Miami, Fla.
  9. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  10. New York, N.Y.

Travel Tip: Airports will be busy and security lines may be longer than usual around the holidays. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of their flight. During peak travel times, contact your airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier. This time of year travelers need to also be aware of potential weather delays. Make sure to check flight status regularly before traveling to the airport. To expedite travel, AAA recommends enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

Lockouts, flat tires to strand nearly one million motorists
The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and AAA expects to rescue nearly one million (901,600) motorists. Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called for roadside assistance over the holidays. For members in need of roadside assistance, download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP. For added convenience, Wazers can now request AAA roadside assistance directly from the Waze app by tapping the Report menu.

Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America, for an inspection. In case of an emergency, be prepared by keeping a cell phone and charger with you at all times. Carry an emergency kit with a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water.

Travel Tip: Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday road trip and schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy. Also, be aware of the dangers of driving distracted. Drivers should designate a passenger to serve as their official text messenger and navigator.

Download the AAA Mobile app before your holiday getaway
Before heading out on your year-end holiday road trip, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Travel times could be more than three times longer over the holiday week

ORLANDO, Fla. (November 16, 2017) – AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year. AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip.

Additional Resources

“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

By the Numbers: 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

  • Road trip ready: 89 percent of all travelers – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
  • Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
  • Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at five percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
  • Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
  • Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.
  • Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.

Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (89.3 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 3.2 percent this Thanksgiving, with 45.5 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. This November’s national average price is $2.54, which is 37 cents more than last November (1st-14th).

Highs and Lows: Car rentals, airfare and hotel rates

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay the lowest average in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. At $157, on average, that is a 23 percent fare drop year-over-year.

Travelers can expect to spend any ‘flight savings’ on car rentals. At $70/day, the daily car rental average is 34 percent more than last year and the highest rate for Thanksgiving weekend since 2013. The increase in rates may be attributed to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles in the fleets with added features and benefits.

Travelers will pay more for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels this holiday weekend. The average price increased by 14 percent to $176/night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels has decreased five percent with an average nightly cost of $117.

Travelers Beware and Advised: Traffic Hotspots and Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road

Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening – as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week – as commuters mix with holiday travelers. At its peak, drivers on Chicago’s interstates, for example, could see a delay of nearly 300 percent over the optimal trip.

“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Worst Time to Travel
Metro Area Worst Day

 for Travel

Worst Time

for Travel

Delay Multiplier
Chicago, IL Tuesday 5:00 – 6:00 PM 3x
San Francisco, CA Tuesday 4:00 – 5:45 PM 2.5X
Los Angeles, CA Tuesday 3:15 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
Boston, MA Tuesday 5:15 – 7:15 PM 2.5x
New York, NY Tuesday 5:30 – 6:30 PM 2x
Washington, DC Tuesday 4:45 – 6:00 PM 2x
Seattle, WA Tuesday 3:45 – 5:30 PM 2x
Atlanta, GA Wednesday 3:00 – 5:15 PM 2x
Houston, TX Wednesday 5:45 – 7:00 PM 1x
Detroit, MI Tuesday 3:00 – 5:30 PM 1x

The worst traffic hotspot during Thanksgiving week in each of the 10 most congested cities in the U.S. are:

Top Traffic Hotspot in America’s Most Congested Cities
Rank City Location
1 Los Angeles, CA I-5 S at Valley View Ave
2 New York, NY I-495 E at NY-106/NY-107
3 San Francisco, CA I-80 E at Pinole Valley Rd
4 Atlanta, GA I-75 N at Chastain Rd
5 Miami, FL I-95 N at Congress Ave
6 Washington, DC I-95 S at US-17/US-1
7 Dallas, TX US-75 S at I-45/I-3
8 Boston, MA I-90 W at I-84/US-20
9 Chicago, IL I-90 W at I-190
10 Seattle, WA I-405 S at WA-167

Across the country, travelers that take to the sky must account for long security lines, but also increased drive times to the airport. AAA and INRIX expect delays getting to the nation’s busiest airports could be as long as an hour.

Worst Travel Times to America’s Busiest Airports
Metro Area Airport Route Worst Time

for Travel

Travel Time

at Peak

New York, NY Downtown to JFK via Long Island Expressway East Tuesday,
5:30 – 7:30 PM
1 hr 54 min
Chicago, IL Downtown to ORD via Kennedy Expressway West Tuesday,
4:30 – 5:30 PM
1 hr 14 min
Denver, CO Downtown to DIA via I-70 E and Pena Blvd Wednesday,
4:30 – 6:30 PM
52 min
Los Angeles, CA Downtown to LAX via I-110 S Tuesday,
4:30 – 6:30 PM
46 min
Dallas, TX Downtown to DFW via TX-183 W Wednesday,
8:00 – 9:00 AM
46 min
Las Vegas, NV Downtown to LAS via I-15 S Wednesday,
8:00 – 9:00 AM
45 min
San Francisco, CA Downtown to SFO via US-101 S Tuesday,
5:00 – 7:00 PM
29 min
Seattle, WA Downtown to SEA via I-5 S Tuesday,
3:00 – 5:00 PM
29 min
Charlotte, NC Downtown to CLT via US-74 W Wednesday,
1:00 – 3:00 PM
19 min
Atlanta, GA Downtown to ALT via I-75 S Wednesday,
5:00 – 7:00 PM
12 min

Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations
Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Compared to previous years, New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco are gaining popularity as holiday spots.  

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Anaheim, California
  3. New York City, New York
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Las Vegas, Nevada
  6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  7. Cancun, Mexico
  8. San Francisco, California
  9. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
  10. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Thanksgiving are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Las Vegas (LAS) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22, with an average rental length of nearly five full days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.

Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway
Before setting out for the long Thanksgiving weekend, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Travel experts focus on accelerating growth

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 3, 2017) – AAA Travel, one of the largest leisure travel agencies in North America, hosted its annual conference Oct. 22-24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Focused on the theme “Accelerating Growth,” the event featured world-renowned speakers from across the travel industry, including The Travel Corp. CEO Brett Tollman, PhoCusWright Senior Vice President Douglas Quinby and Project: Time Off Chief of Research and Strategy Katie Denis. Delegates from AAA/CAA clubs, travel suppliers and international Global Mobility Alliance affiliates attended the event to network and share best practices and opportunities to grow AAA Travel’s position in the industry.

“AAA has the best products and experiences available to our nearly 58 million members and a tremendous opportunity to deliver world-class service,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president, AAA Travel and Publishing. “Our growth has been good, and we need to accelerate that pace. Succeeding requires continuous focus on increasing the quality of our efforts, looking for new and innovative opportunities to increase sales and a firm belief in the underlying assumption that growth is important and possible.”

During the conference, AAA presented leading travel industry suppliers with prestigious Partner of the Year awards in 14 categories. These highly coveted awards recognize the partners’ commitment to providing AAA travel agents and members with exemplary travel services in their respective product categories, and for marketing, member service and travel agency support. Additionally, two of AAA’s top-performing agents, Kelly Brock and Henry Dennis of AAA Carolinas, were honored with Travel Agent Superlative Awards.

“We are proud to present AAA Travel’s Partner of the Year Awards to some of the best companies in the travel industry. Our members benefit from these strong partnerships and our shared commitment to providing world-class service and amazing vacation experiences,” continued Sutherland. “We are also honored to recognize our two top travel agents with 2017 Superlative Awards, based not only on their remarkable sales levels, but more importantly, their steadfast commitment to our members.”

2017 Partner of the Year Awards

(Photos available upon request)

Ocean Cruise Partner of the Year:
Holland America Line

River Cruise Partner of the Year:
AmaWaterways

Escorted Tour Partner of the Year:
Trafalgar

Independent Tour Partner of the Year:
Pleasant Holidays

Lodging Partner of the Year:
Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Best in Marketing:
Cruise:                  Royal Caribbean International
Tour:                     Rocky Mountaineer
Lodging:               Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Best in Member Service:
Cruise:                 AmaWaterways
Tour:                     Insight Vacations
Lodging:               Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Best in Travel Agency Support:
Cruise:                  Royal Caribbean International
Tour:                     Trafalgar
Lodging:               Best Western Hotels & Resorts

 

2017 Travel Agent Superlative Awards

Kelly Brock, AAA Carolinas

Highest Sales, Highest Revenue and Highest Preferred Cruise Sales

Kelly Brock is a 30-year veteran of the travel industry, having served the last 17 years at AAA Carolinas in Bluffton, South Carolina. This is her fourth time being honored as a Superlative Award winner. Her extensive travel experience has taken her to exotic destinations around the world, as well as many European countries, Caribbean islands, and all throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Her passion lies in adventure travel, river cruising and luxury travel.

Henry Dennis, AAA Carolinas

Highest Preferred Tour Sales

Henry Dennis, also a four-time Superlative Award winner, has more than 30 years’ experience in the travel industry. He is a Certified Travel Counselor and Accredited Cruise Counselor. He also holds multiple Destination Specialist and Lifestyle Specialists accreditations, as well as numerous supplier and destination certifications. Dennis is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he has served AAA Carolinas’ members for more than 20 years.

The Partner of the Year Award selection process included surveys and evaluations from the association’s club travel agency executives. Superlative Awards are based on agents’ leisure travel productivity and leisure group sales from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. Thousands of agents were eligible for the awards, and AAA clubs nominated their top achievers.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Experts share favorite Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants for holiday celebrations

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 25, 2017) – As millions of people make plans to travel this holiday season, hotels and restaurants are unpacking decorations and spicing up menus to help their guests get into the holiday spirit. Travelers and diners looking for the comforts of home without the stress of hosting during the holidays can find festive and family-friendly activities, extravagant light displays and décor, sensational seasonal menus and much more at properties across the United States and Canada.

Additional Resources

To help those travelers who are looking for a little extra holiday magic, AAA’s professional inspectors, who conduct annual evaluations of nearly 59,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels and restaurants, have selected 12 of their favorite festive Diamond Rated properties to visit this holiday season.

Hotels with Holiday Cheer for the Entire Family – Go ice skating, take a sleigh ride or join in a “reindog” parade. These AAA inspector picks offer visitors hands-on ways to enjoy the holidays away from home throughout the season.

Set at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, this gorgeous property is perfect for skiers. Activities in the nearby village include sleigh rides, ice skating and plenty of options for shopping and dining. Visitors can also enjoy daily holiday arts and crafts and other family-friendly activities, a special Christmas dinner, as well as an adults-only New Year’s Eve gala. –Inspector #450

Northern California’s wine region is open for business – wineries and resorts are ready to welcome visitors this holiday season despite recent wildfires. And one of the best things people can do to support the people of Napa is by spending time in the region, helping local businesses get back on their feet. On weekend afternoons in December, hop aboard a festively decorated trolley playing seasonal music, which runs between destination spots like the Oxbow Market and Historic Napa Mill. This cozy bed and breakfast, near the heart of Napa, has a cheerful holiday environment with a beautifully decorated tree and miniature town. –Inspector #569

This property, centrally located in the winter wonderland of Aspen, is lavishly adorned with holiday décor and complete with a mini-gingerbread village. Visitors can enjoy carriage rides through town with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the hotel provides treats for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. –Inspector #599

This exclusive, luxury resort features a full calendar of family-friendly offerings, including holiday movie screenings, elf tuck-ins, ornament decorating, a “reindog” parade, gingerbread house and ornament decorating, a Christmas Eve yule log ceremony, Christmas Day brunch and much more. –Inspector #43

Bright Lights, Winter Wonderland – Immerse yourself in extravagant light displays and décor that create a magical environment. Decked out with hundreds of thousands of lights, ornaments and garlands, these AAA inspector picks offer a holiday feast for the eyes.

AAA’s inspector recommends planning your visit after the first week in December, when this beautifully restored historic country inn is turned into a holiday wonderland. The public areas and guestrooms are charmingly decorated with decked-out Christmas trees, a not-so-small collection of Santa figurines and a lighted village display. Guests are welcomed with eggnog and holiday-decorated cookies throughout the season. –Inspector #87

Located just steps from Rockefeller Center, this hotel is regally decorated for the holidays with its own 30-foot Christmas tree featuring 30,000 ornaments and more than 70,000 lights. Enjoy a cup of eggnog or spiced cider, go for a spin around the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink, then stroll by the spectacularly decorated department store windows nearby. –Inspector #592

  • AAA Five Diamond Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada

With seasonal sculptures created from thousands of fresh flowers and plants, the resort’s 14,000-square-foot conservatory is a floral fairytale. During the holidays, visitors can enjoy the florally crafted enormous polar bears, life-size snow globes and penguins on display. The lobby and shopping areas are also festively decorated. –Inspector #39

This luxurious resort creates a winter dreamscape with nearly 200,000 lights, ribbons, garlands, wreaths and gloriously decorated trees. Guests can take part in myriad activities, 12 days of holiday themed events and Christmas Day brunch or dinner. –Inspector #76

Holiday Delights for Foodies and More – Sensational holiday-themed menus and settings at these Diamond Rated restaurants and hotels offer festive treats for the discerning foodie to the casual diner looking for a flavorful escape from the usual.

Each Sunday and Wednesday in December, the inn offers a Dickens Dinner with roast duck and pheasant accompanied by a reading from Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol.” Guests can go for a stroll along wooded trails adorned with icicles and lovely buildings set among the Hocking Hills. –Inspector #10

The beautiful dining room’s upscale western flair is transformed with festive decorations and seasonal menus for the holiday season. Sleigh rides at night take guests through a winter light display, complete with hot chocolate and blankets for snuggling. –Inspector #450

  • AAA Four Diamond Circa 1886 in Charleston, South Carolina

This renovated carriage house at the historic Wentworth Mansion offers an intimate dining setting. An annual Dickens Dinner includes a retelling of “A Christmas Carol” with a four-course dinner prepared by the award-winning chef. –Inspector #43

This charming Victorian home decorates every square inch with tasteful holiday décor. Diners can warm up and enjoy a holiday-themed tea with options like gingerbread cheesecake and tea sandwiches with roasted turkey and apple cranberry mustard. –Inspector #593

The year-end holiday season is one of the busiest times of year, when millions of travelers take to the roads and air to spend time with family and friends. To help those who will set out on a holiday getaway this year, AAA’s travel experts offer these travel tips:

  • Plan ahead – Book early for the best deals and availability on hotels, airfare, car rentals and more.
  • Work with a travel agent – Travel agents often have access to extra amenities and added benefits to help plan a magical holiday getaway. They can also be a tremendous help in the event something changes or goes wrong on your trip.
  • Be flexible – If your schedule permits, consider traveling on the holiday itself to encounter less congestion and fewer crowds.
  • Safety first – Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday trip. If driving, schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy.
  • Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready – Motorists should check the car battery and windshield wipers, inspect tires and pack a winter emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle.
  • Pack your patience – The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for traveling. Expect heavy crowds and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.

For more information to plan a holiday getaway, visit AAA.com/HolidayDiamonds.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Travel Experts Offer Tips on Caribbean Travel Following Recent Hurricanes

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 12, 2017) – Travelers be well advised, the Caribbean is open for business despite last month’s hurricanes. Fortunately, most Caribbean islands did not see major damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, making the region a top AAA recommended destination for fall and winter getaways.

“The Caribbean remains home to some of the world’s most popular travel destinations,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “Vacationers, travel suppliers and the islands welcome guests to enjoy the relaxation, culture and recreation of the Caribbean.”

AAA experts recommend that travelers look to these popular Caribbean destinations, which sustained minimal or no damage, for their upcoming travels:

  • Antigua
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire
  • Curaçao
  • Dominican Republic
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Saint Lucia
  • St. Kitts & Nevis
  • St. Vincent & The Grenadines
  • The Cayman Islands
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks & Caicos
  • St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Additionally, the Florida Keys have reopened to travelers ahead of schedule following Hurricane Irma, and Mexico saw little impact to its tourism infrastructure following two recent earthquakes and Hurricane Katia, which made landfall in the eastern part of the country.

“While recovery efforts are ongoing, we do not anticipate that the recent storms will have a long-term impact on the travel industry. As the islands work towards a full recovery, AAA shares our care and concern to everyone affected,” added Sutherland. “In addition to making a donation to the recovery charity of your choice, we also can help the Caribbean recover by stimulating their local economies, which rely heavily on travel and tourism.”

For anyone planning a trip during hurricane season (June 1 – November 30) or to a destination recently affected by a storm, AAA Travel experts offer the following tips:

  • Work with a travel agent – A trusted travel agent can serve as the travelers’ advocate, helping them remain informed and assisting with any itinerary changes that need to be made in the event of a storm.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance – Travel insurance is designed to offer protection against sudden and unforeseen events, such as hurricanes. Typically, travelers must have purchased travel insurance prior to a storm being “named” to receive hurricane-related coverage benefits.
  • Remain informed – Before, during and after a storm, travelers should check with their travel providers—including hotels, airlines, car rental companies, cruise lines, and tour operators—for the latest updates to itineraries or cancellation and rebooking policies.
  • Be flexible and remember to pack your patience – In the event of a hurricane, travel plans may be disrupted, even for those not traveling to an affected area. For example, cruise ships often adjust their itineraries to avoid storms or help accommodate travelers on other routes.
  • Share your plans – Before any international trip, enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This makes it easier for the nearest embassy or consulate to contact U.S. citizens in case of an emergency.
  • Check for Diamonds – AAA’s professional inspectors conduct on-site evaluations of nearly 59,000 Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants across the Caribbean, United States, Canada and Mexico. If something goes wrong at one of these properties, AAA’s member relations team is available to help members resolve their concerns.

Travelers should also remember that Atlantic hurricane season continues through November 30, and it’s important for anyone traveling during this time to heed the advice of travel experts and plan ahead for any unforeseen severe weather.

For more information or to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA: Americans Are Falling for Autumn Travel

September 19th, 2017 by AAA

Fewer crowds, mild weather and budget-friendly options attract fall travelers

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 19, 2017) – Summer’s over and kids are back in school, but many people are making plans for at least one more getaway this fall, before the arrival of another busy holiday season. According to a new survey from AAA, more than one in four Americans (28 percent) expects to take a vacation this year between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Additional Resources

  • Infographics: 1 | 2 | 3

“We have seen strong demand for travel throughout the course of the year, and Americans are discovering that traveling during the fall season is a best kept secret,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “Travelers increasingly prioritize immersive travel experiences and autumn offers more opportunities for them to explore a destination’s local culture, thanks to fewer crowds and mild weather.”

In fact, Americans say the top benefits of taking a fall trip include:

  • Fewer crowds and children (68 percent);
  • Weather that is more favorable (63 percent); and,
  • The opportunity to find better value for the cost of their trip (55 percent).

 

“Savvy travelers can often find lower prices on everything from airfare and hotels to cruises and vacation packages, as travel companies offer incentives to fill their vacancies during the fall,” continued Sutherland.

Road trips are the preferred activity for fall travelers, with 62 percent of those planning a vacation intending to pack up their cars and hit the road. Thanks to milder weather, outdoor events such as fall festivals and visits to national and state parks are particularly popular with travelers this time of year. Twenty-six percent of those who are planning a fall vacation will take a trip to view fall foliage, a favorite pastime from the northeast and New England, to the mountains of North Carolina and Colorado.

The majority of fall travelers will stay within the United States, with Orlando, southern California, Hawaii and New York the most popular domestic travel destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings. Approximately one-third of fall travelers are planning an international vacation, with European destinations including Rome and London especially popular this time of year. This year’s top fall destinations based on AAA Travel bookings include:

 

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. Anaheim, California
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. New York City
  6. Las Vegas, Nevada
  7. London, England
  8. Dublin, Ireland
  9. Boston, Massachusetts
  10. Cancun, Mexico

 

Before setting out on a fall getaway, travelers should contact their local AAA office for the expert advice of a trusted travel advisor who can provide personalized service and in-depth destination knowledge to create a memorable vacation experience. For more information about fall travel or to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.

AAA’s report presents the findings of a telephone survey (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,011 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted August 3-6, 2017. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Julie Hall44.2 Million People Expected to Travel Independence Day Weekend

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 22, 2017) – This Independence Day, a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home, taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways to honor the red, white and blue. With 1.25 million more travelers than last year, 2017 will be marked as the most traveled Independence Day holiday weekend ever.

Additional Resources

“Combined, strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry, in particular this Independence Day weekend,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “A historic 44.2 million Americans will travel to celebrate our nation’s freedom this year, adding to an already bustling summer travel season.”

The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4.

By the Numbers: Independence Day Travel Forecast

  • Overall, 44.2 million travelers are expected to travel this Independence Day, a 2.9 percent increase over 2016.
  • 37.5 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.
  • 3.44 million people are taking to the skies this Independence Day, increasing air travel by 4.6 percent over last year.
  • 3.27 million travelers, an increase of 1.4 percent from 2016, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.

Gas prices cheaper than one year ago
The national average gas price is four cents cheaper than this same time last year and a contributing factor to the increase in travelers on the roads this Independence Day. With today’s national average price for a gallon of gas at $2.28, prices remain historically low for the summer travel season. However, consumers may see prices increase, albeit by pennies, closer to the holiday weekend, similar to the Memorial Day gas price trend.

More people will drive, fly and use other modes of travel
The vast majority of travelers—37.5 million Americans—will drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 4.6 percent over last year, with 3.44 million Americans taking to the skies this Independence Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 1.4 percent, to 3.27 million travelers.

Airfares and car rental rates lower this Independence Day
Travelers can expect lower prices for airfares and car rentals this Independence Day weekend. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 10 percent lower this year, with an average round trip ticket landing at $186. Daily car rental rates will average $65, which is 14 percent less than last Independence Day. Hotel costs are the same as last year, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $185 per night.

AAA to rescue more than 338,000 motorists this Independence Day
AAA expects to rescue more than 338,000 motorists this Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.

Orlando remains top destination for summer travel
With new attractions debuting at popular theme parks, Orlando claims the number one spot on the list of most-visited locales for 2017 summer travel based on AAA’s summer travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Vancouver, Canada
  3. Cancun, Mexico
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  6. Honolulu, Hawaii
  7. Anaheim, California
  8. Anchorage, Alaska
  9. Las Vegas, Nevada
  10. Montego Bay, Jamaica

To help travelers plan their trips to a top 10 destination, AAA’s team of anonymous hotel and restaurant inspectors recently selected a few of their favorite places to stay and dine.

Download the AAA Mobile app before an Independence Day getaway
Before setting out for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities, budget and services.

About the travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Independence Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Family-friendly places in Orlando top the experts’ lists

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (June 13, 2017) – A bustling summer travel season is in full swing and AAA’s team of anonymous inspectors have been busy conducting on-site evaluations of nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across North America. To give travelers a taste of the many great places to stay and dine this summer, they’ve selected a few of their favorites in the top 10 North American destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips scheduled for June 1 through August 15, 2017.

Additional Resources

 
1. Orlando, Florida

Inspector 591’s Favorite Hotel: Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside (Three Diamond)

Recreational activities include taking a stroll along the river or going on a surrey bike ride, a fishing excursion or horse-drawn carriage ride. Inspector 591 shares, “Opportunities for both relaxation and fun activities are plentiful.”

Inspector 591’s Favorite Restaurant: The BOATHOUSE Waterfront Dining (Three Diamond)
Beautifully restored boats from the 1940s to 1960s are creatively placed around the restaurant. The menu is just as interesting with options like Prince Edward Island steamed mussels and Atlantic swordfish.

 

2. Vancouver, Canada

Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: Blue Horizon Hotel (Three Diamond)
These spacious suites have a unique double bank of windows and balconies. Higher floors offer incredible views of the city, English Bay or nearby mountains, depending on room location.

Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: Bistro Absinthe (Three Diamond)
This tiny spot has a bohemian feel with vintage chandeliers, absinthe posters and exposed ceilings. Recipes are classic with a simple clarity of flavor and appealing display. Inspector 450 says, “For what you get, the price is right: high quality, attractively presented, delicious food and the portion size is not too bad either!”

 

3. Cancun, Mexico

Inspector 601’s Favorite Hotel: Hyatt Ziva Cancun (Four Diamond)
Newly renovated, this hotel sits between two great swimming beaches and is walkable to local nightlife and shopping. Inspector 601 exclaims, “This is where I’m bringing my family! A spa for us old folks, a brewpub for Gen X and a sweet shop for the grandkids.”

Inspector 601’s Favorite Restaurant: La Habichuela Sunset (Three Diamond)
Sporting a dramatic Mayan-themed décor, this restaurant prepares the time-honored recipes of the owners and hosts, the Pezzotti family, including seafood ceviche, chilled avocado soup and chicken mole.

 

4.Seattle, Washington

Inspector 31’s Favorite Hotel: Fairmont Olympic Hotel (Four Diamond)
A historic icon, the Italian Renaissance-style hotel is in the heart of the city. It reflects the grandeur of the past, but with modern conveniences.

Inspector 31’s Favorite Restaurant: Altura (Four Diamond)
The prix fixe menu features only the freshest seasonal ingredients in unique preparations, including foie gras torchon with rhubarb and strawberries, squid ink tagliatelle and king salmon with fried ramps. Inspector 31 raves, “I love how the chef takes the freshest ingredients available and, by creatively combining flavors, fashions the most exotic dishes.”

 

5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol (Four Diamond)
This gorgeous, all-inclusive resort has a historical feel with breathtaking sea views. All units have full living room areas and beautiful bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. Inspector 450 declares, “If I had just one last place to go, this might be it. Fantastic food, beautiful rooms and wonderful service are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: Api Beach Restaurant (Two Diamond)
Featuring views of a beautiful pool and a sandy beach, this restaurant features dishes with a Latin flair, including ceviche, arepa and empanadas.

 

6. Honolulu, Hawaii

Inspector 569’s Favorite Hotel: Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club (Three Diamond)
In the heart of Waikiki, this property is surrounded by many restaurants and shops. The rooftop pool offers spectacular views of the city, the ocean and Diamond Head, as well as complimentary cabanas.

Inspector 569’s Favorite Restaurant: Chef Mavro (Five Diamond)
Elegant island décor immerses diners in a soft, mellow glow. Imaginative and creative dishes delight with flexible four- and six-course menus as well as the grand tasting menu, all with optional wine pairings. Inspector 569 shares, “Dining here is always a treat for me as this chef can make something as basic as creamed corn make your eyes roll to the back of your head!”

 

7. Anaheim, California

Inspector 603’s Favorite Hotel: Disneyland Hotel (Four Diamond)
A surprise awaits guests on arrival, as an intricately carved Disney castle comes to life with lights and music on guestroom headboards. Children’s wishes will come true when they run into the many Disney characters around the property.

Inspector 603’s Favorite Restaurant: Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen (Two Diamond)
New Orleans-style food, décor and entertainment are combined to provide a whimsical experience. This is almost as good as visiting the original “Big Easy!” Inspector 603 proclaims, “I cannot leave without having one of their delicious Beignets!”

 

8. Anchorage, Alaska 

Inspector 334’s Favorite Hotel: Crowne Plaza Anchorage Midtown (Three Diamond)
The spacious lobby at this hotel is beautiful. Guestroom and bathroom highlights include luxurious bedding, multiple outlets and USB ports and high-end bath products. Inspector 334 raves, “After a long day, I am overjoyed to find a sleep kit on my bed with pillow mist, resting cream and foot balm; the lighted makeup mirror is a bonus.”

Inspector 334’s Favorite Restaurant: Kincaid Grill (Three Diamond)
It’s no surprise that visitors flock to this small restaurant featuring inviting décor and an innovative menu that changes with the seasons. This is one of the finest dining experiences in the city.

 

9. Las Vegas, Nevada

Inspector 39’s Favorite Hotel: ARIA Sky Suites (Five Diamond)
The pampering begins with a complimentary limo ride from the airport to a private drive where guests are greeted by name. Suites on the 25th floor and up give each room panoramic views of the bustling city of lights.

Inspector 39’s Favorite Restaurant: Joel Robuchon (Five Diamond)
This fine-dining gem is one of the city’s most highly touted restaurants. Chef Joel Robuchon’s sumptuous menu caters to the sophisticated palate while flawless service prevails in the intimate and refined dining room. Inspector 39 proclaims, “This is the most spectacular dining experience I’ve ever had. Every course is a piece of art and tastes as amazing as it looks.”

 

10. Montego Bay, Jamaica

 Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites (Four Diamond)
This upscale, all-inclusive resort has a large modern lobby and lounge. The grounds are lovely and feature a lazy river, kid-oriented water park and fountains.

Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: MVP Smokehouse (One Diamond)
This rustic open-air eatery offers quite a bit more than your typical Jamaican restaurant. Renowned for its smoked jerk chicken and pork, the restaurant’s signature sauce is sold by the bottle. Inspector 450 shares, “Not only is this place loaded with finger-licking value, it’s smoking good too!”

For more information to plan your summer getaway, visit AAA.com/DiamondSummer.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

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Julie Hall39.3 million Americans expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 17, 2017) – AAA projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend. That is one million more travelers than last year taking to the roads, skies, rails and water, creating the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005.

Additional Resources

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29.

By the Numbers: Memorial Day Travel Forecast

  • 2017 will mark the third consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel with 2.7 percent more travelers than last year.
  • 34.6 million Americans (88.1 percent of travelers) will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.4 percent over last year.
  • 2.9 million Americans are taking to the skies this Memorial Day, increasing air travel by 5.5 percent over last year.
  • 1.75 million travelers, an increase 2.9 percent from 2016, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.
  • Drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015. Airfares, car rental rates and mid-range hotels are all trending higher than last Memorial Day.

Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015, the vast majority of holiday travelers (88.1 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 2.4 percent this Memorial Day, with 34.6 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. The national average price for a gallon of gas today is $2.34, 11 cents more than last year.

More Americans are planning to rent cars for their holiday road trips this year. AAA’s car rental bookings are 19 percent higher than last Memorial Day. According to Hertz, the busiest day for car rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 26, based on last year’s data.

Large increases in flying and travel by other modes this Memorial Day
While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, more Americans will fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year. Air travel is expected to increase 5.5 percent over last year, with 2.9 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.

Airfares, hotel and car rental rates on the rise
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9 percent higher this Memorial Day, with an average round trip ticket landing at $181. Hotel costs have also increased since last Memorial Day, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $215, or 18 percent more than last year. Daily car rental rates will average $66, which is 7 percent more than last year.

AAA to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues.

AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

AAA and Waze share perspectives on holiday travel
According to Waze, the free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are the busiest metro areas this Memorial Day weekend, based on last year’s accident and traffic jam data. For travelers visiting or driving through these cities, be aware of high traffic volumes on Thursday and Friday – New York City sees an average 27 percent increase in accident alerts on these two days.

Many Memorial Day vacationers traveling abroad this year
While the vast majority of travelers are planning a Memorial Day road trip, many other Americans will take advantage of the long holiday weekend and travel internationally, with Europe especially popular this year. The top destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA travel bookings, are:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. London, England
  4. Dublin, Ireland
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Las Vegas, Nevada
  8. New York, New York
  9. Paris, France
  10. Honolulu, Hawaii

According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Orlando (MCO), Atlanta (ATL) and Denver (DEN), based on data from 2016.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Memorial Day getaway
Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Julie HallAAA survey reveals an estimated 22 million Americans will take a culinary vacation this year

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 26, 2017) – Food and dining are becoming a more central part of many travelers’ vacation experiences. In fact, AAA’s latest travel survey found that an estimated 22 million Americans expect to take a culinary-focused vacation in the next 12 months. Seventy-five percent of Americans feel that food and dining are an important part of their travel experiences and four in five say they have engaged in such unique activities as touring wineries and distilleries, eating with local families and engaging in hands-on experiences such as cooking classes led by local chefs while traveling.

Additional Resources

  • Infographics: 1 | 2

“There is no better way to learn about a destination and immerse yourself in the local culture than by experiencing its unique food and dining customs,” said Bryan Shilling, AAA managing director of Travel Products and Services. “When planning a culinary vacation, seek the advice of a trusted travel advisor, who can help customize a trip that matches the individual traveler’s dining preferences.”

The younger generation is particularly interested in culinary travel, with 88 percent of millennials having participated in food-related experiences while vacationing, outpacing members of Generation X and Baby Boomers. In fact, 43 percent of AAA travel agents report a recent increase in the number of members planning culinary-focused vacations, with most planning foodie trips to Italy, France and Spain. Ironically, however, travel agents also say that one of the top mistakes travelers make when preparing for an international trip is not planning their meals and activities in advance.

“Travelers spent an average of $63 per person, per day on food and dining purchases during their last vacation,” continued Shilling. “Meals can quickly become a significant portion of a family’s vacation budget. That’s why planning ahead is key to enjoying a memorable culinary vacation.”

Travelers can find thousands of AAA Diamond Rated restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean through the AAA Travel Guides and TripTik Travel Planner tool on AAA.com and in the AAA Mobile app. All restaurants must meet and uphold rigorous minimum standards to pass an anonymous inspection and be approved by AAA. A rating of One to Five Diamonds is then assigned to describe the complexity of the restaurant’s service, décor and food. The Diamond Ratings help diners find restaurants that offer the kind of experience they prefer, whether they want affordable, family-friendly establishments or to indulge in luxurious menu offerings and first-class service. For more information, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

AAA’s report presents the findings of a telephone survey (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,013 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted March 9-12, 2017. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.8 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults. Additionally, AAA/CAA travel executives responded to an online survey conducted Feb. 10-24, 2017. Each travel executive was asked to respond on behalf of all travel agents at their club, and responses were weighted by the number of full-time travel agents at that club. The club travel executive survey represents the input of 2,110 AAA/CAA travel agents.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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