Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Heather HunterCozy cafes and simple eateries coast to coast beckon locals and travelers with down-home favorites like pot pies and skillet scrambles 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Feb. 4, 2014) Some of the most exciting aspects of travel are seeing new sights, experiencing different cultures and sampling unfamiliar cuisines. Yet every now and then, even the most die-hard road warrior can become a bit homesick. That’s when just the sight and smells of favorite dishes can make everything seem much, much better.  AAA inspectors, who each year experience hundreds of restaurants, share 10 of their favorite places to enjoy a taste of home.

Travelers can read about nearly 70 AAA Inspector Picks for Favorite Comfort Food Restaurants on the AAA TravelViews blog, and explore thousands of additional restaurants in the AAA.com Travel Guides.

American Flatbread, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Pizza, Burlington, Vt.

Red and white checkered table cloths. Warmth emanating from the wood-fired earthen oven in the corner of the dining room. This is where comfort comes to relax. Ask for a table near the kitchen and watch as flatbread pizzas are expertly prepared in a mesmerizing show. Ingredients are seasonal, organic and locally grown, a true reflection of many Vermonters’ healthy lifestyle. It’s a block from the Flynn Theater, perfect for before a show.

Angie’s Waterloo, AAA/CAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Canadian, Waterloo, Ontario

A great place to enjoy real country hospitality and tasty home-style fare. A local favorite since 1962, the restaurant covers its walls with newspaper clippings of local events and family photos. The scent of fresh baked pies, breads and cookies rouses one’s appetite. The country breakfasts, fish and chips and daily specials make this multi-generational institution a tradition for many.

Big Pink, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Miami Beach, Fla.

“Real Food for Real People…Really” is the motto here, a fixture on Miami Beach since 1996. Everything on the menu is super-sized, so make room in your refrigerator for leftovers.  Try the Big Pink TV dinner daily special, the Thanksgiving on a roll or the mouthwatering foot-long hot dog made with Kobe beef. The tables are chock-a-block close, so get cozy and don’t be surprised if a neighboring diner asks for a smidgen of your peanut butter s’mores. A great place to people watch, especially in the early morning hours after a long night out.

Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant, AAA Two Diamond, Family Dining/American, Bryce Canyon City, Utah

For over 50 years, travelers have been waking up to traditional, country-style breakfasts in front of an old wood stove at this rustic cottage complex. Primarily known for its homemade soups and pies, the daily menu offers generous portions of basic American fare like cowboy steaks, fresh local trout and chicken fried steak. Locals swear by a rule to eat dessert first — and why not with one of the largest selections of homemade pie around!

Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Comfort Food, Gahanna, Ohio

This smartly-styled retro diner, appointed with mosaic tile floors, futuristic light fixtures and stainless steel walls, is an excellent place for generous portions of comfort foods. There are usually several soups available, but one can always expect steak and bean chili. A good choice for a hearty entrée is the meatloaf stack, served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, onion rings and barbecued gravy. Another delicious option is the Southern fried chicken. Worthy desserts include the “Seriously Big Chocolate Cake” and “24K Carrot Cake.”

Georgia Brown’s, AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/Regional American, Washington, D.C.

This stylish restaurant serves up contemporary Southern cooking, with an emphasis on the Low Country of South Carolina, right in the heart of the city.  The menu boasts down-home dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, country-fried meatloaf, sour mash pork chops, cornmeal-fried catfish and twice-cooked pork shank with sweet potato cheese grits. Enjoy live jazz every Wednesday night, “’Cause it’s been said that she knocks ‘em dead … ooooh sweet Georgia Brown!” as the song lyrics say. Valet parking available for dinner only.

La Palma Chicken Pie Shop & Restaurant, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/American, Anaheim, Calif.

As you enter the front door the aroma of fresh-baked pies quickly alerts your senses to the down-home cooking you are about to enjoy. Start with piping hot chicken noodle soup or chicken pie. Fried chicken is always a good bet but, whatever you choose, don’t leave without a slice of — you guessed it — homemade fruit pie.  Decorative roosters and hens adorn every inch of free space. Seating includes tables and benches, with plenty of paper napkins to help wipe the deliciousness off your face.

The Meatball Shop, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/ Italian Comfort Food, New York, N.Y.

What could be more comforting than a meatball? This popular little place in Greenwich Village serves up some of the best, whether it is straight ground beef, spicy pork, chicken or even veggie topped with tomato sauce, mushroom gravy or parmesan cream. To up the comfort level, order them as meatball sliders. Despite the many “ball” options, they keep it casual here; no reservations are taken, so arrive early to avoid a wait.

The Moose Cafe, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/Southern, Asheville, N.C.

Perched on a rise and offering a panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains, you’ll feel right at home the moment you step foot inside. Grab a seat and tear into a plate of hot, flaky biscuits, served with homemade apple butter, sorghum and honey. Order up a sweet tea served in a mason jar, setting the tone for the Southern delicacies to follow. The café is adjacent to a farmer’s market, so when the vegetables are at their peak, they are on your table for authentic ‘farm to table’ dining, nestled away in the Carolina mountains.

Salt Lick Bar-B-Q, AAA One Diamond, Casual Dining/BBQ, Driftwood, Texas

“You can smell our pits from miles away!” With a slogan like that, you’d better deliver – and the Salt Lick Bar-B-Q surely does. If you get a chance to swing by the original location in Driftwood, you’re in for great time and a great meal.  This popular fun spot serves brisket, pork and beef ribs, sausage, chicken and turkey. For lighter fare choose a sandwich, or tip the scale the other direction with the all-you-can-eat family style extravaganza.

About AAA Inspections

AAA offers the only rating program that conducts comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with far more Approved properties than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Travelers can find AAA Diamond Rated establishments across AAA’s online, mobile and printed travel information products.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterOverall value is top priority for most travelers when selecting a hotel

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2013) – Selecting a hotel can be an overwhelming task. On vacation your hotel is your home away from home and base of operations.  The right hotel enhances your vacation experience, while the wrong choice can lead to unexpected expenses, inconvenience and frustration. The first step to selecting the perfect hotel for your next trip is determining what is most important to you and your travel companions.

Additional Resources

“Every traveler and every trip is just as varied as the lodging options available,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway, an oceanfront room or a hotel with activities for kids, the right hotel will enhance your vacation experience. A little research goes a long way in successful vacation planning.”

AAA provides travelers with travel booking services and all the travel information needed to make informed decisions. A reservation through AAA can be made using the AAA mobile app, online at AAA.com, by calling a AAA Travel Agent or by stopping by one of the more than 1,000 branch locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Look Beyond the Price Per Night for Best Value

Whether travelers are looking for a budget motel or luxury beach-front resort, they want to be sure they are getting the best property within their budget.  In a recent AAA survey, 85 percent of respondents cited overall value for money as the top consideration for choosing a hotel. Value was cited as an important consideration for all income levels. Eighty-seven percent of respondents with annual household incomes above $100,000 and 84 percent of respondents with annual household incomes below $35,000 selected overall value as a priority, illustrating that no matter the cost or level of the hotel selected, value is key.

AAA Travel also recommends travelers look beyond the price. At AAA.com travelers can examine prices and compare hotels of similar Diamond Ratings. Be sure to investigate fees that are not included in the price such as resort fees or parking charges. Check what facilities are available at the property which will enhance your stay such as a pool, arcade or children’s programs that could save money on entertainment expenses. Be sure to take advantage of any discounts available to you such as AAA discounts available to members at partner hotels.

While expanding the geographic search for a hotel can lower a hotel bill, convenience to attractions or activities is important to 73 percent of respondents when selecting a hotel.  AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner, which is available free at AAA.com, allows travelers to search and book hotels near points of interest.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch Unless it is Stated

Added benefits such as free breakfast (63 percent) and free hi-speed Wi-Fi (51 percent) also ranked as very high considerations when choosing a hotel. Free Wi-Fi is even more important to younger travelers with 71 percent of respondents age 18-34 saying free, high-speed Wi-Fi is a top consideration when choosing a hotel. Wi-Fi access for a family can add a substantial cost when the kids bring along their laptops, tablets and smartphones, while a free breakfast for every travel companion can lower overall vacation costs.  Be sure to check what extra value your hotel choice offers.
Travelers Going Green

Nearly half (48 percent) of women and 18-34 year-olds surveyed said they seek environmentally-friendly programs when selecting a hotel. AAA provides travel planning information to travelers who wish to consider sustainability programs when making travel plans. Currently an ECO icon marks approximately 3,000 eligible lodging listings in the TourBook® guides, TripTik® Travel Planner and on AAA.com.

Research Reward Programs and Pet Policies

Frequent travel programs or points are important to more than one-third (35 percent) of all respondents. Other considerations for selecting a hotel involve the personal needs of travelers including is the hotel pet-friendly (29 percent), does it have a spa (23 percent) or does it have a children’s program (23 percent).

Nearly half (47 percent) of all people with children under age 13 consider a children’s program when booking a hotel.

Showing your loyalty can result in extra savings or free nights on future trips. Consider signing up for a hotel’s reward program from your first stay. Even if you do not plan on staying long enough to earn a free room, some chains offer benefits to participants in loyalty programs right away. Keep your loyalty numbers organized and use them every time you book. Some loyalty programs with AAA partner hotels offer additional benefits to AAA members – be sure to check for details at AAA.com/Travel.

For those travelers who like to bring Fluffy or Fido on the family vacation Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is a great resource.   Available in print and digital versions, The AAA PetBook is updated annually and features more than 14,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and campgrounds that are pet friendly.  Also, this on-the-road guide offers the locations of dog parks and emergency vet clinics, as well as other pet travel advice.

Travelers with pets in tow check should check with the hotel in advance of their stay to confirm pet policies and the cost related to bring your best friend along. Price can vary greatly and some hotels charge a pet fee by the night or one fee for the entire stay. Also ask if there are size or breed limitations and the rules for leaving your pet alone in the room.  The AAA PetBook also includes tips for bringing your pet on vacation. For more information visit http://www.AAA.com/PetBook.

The results of the survey show that Americans expect value and also desire convenience. The assistance of a qualified travel advisor, such as a AAA Travel Agent can help consumers plan the perfect getaway that meets their needs without the frustration of planning. For more information visit www.AAA.com/Travel.

Heather HunterInteractive travel guides in free AAA Mobile app for iPad highlight AAA experts’ recommendations on offerings too good to miss

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 12, 2013) – It’s now easier than ever for AAA members to plan memorable travel experiences and activities, thanks to AAA’s new Top Destinations digital travel guides. Available via a recent update to the iPad version of the free AAA Mobile App, the guides give travelers a fast, fun way to plan their visits to popular destinations.

“These informative, interactive guides provide valuable time- and vacation-saving insight from AAA’s travel experts,” said Bill Wood, executive editor and vice president, AAA Publishing and Travel Information. “Our editors are seasoned travelers who spend their days immersed in travel information, so they’re in a perfect position to steer members to the best experiences and away from potential pitfalls. The guides also make the most of AAA’s mapping expertise, allowing users to switch back and forth from pages to map views.”

Top Destinations guides are available for several popular U.S. cities including Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, San Diego and Tampa, with more titles underway. The guides are loaded with enlargeable photos, colorful maps, insider details and listings for places to stay, dine and play. Users can save their favorites to a ‘trunk’ for later reference and itinerary planning, and they can share ideas through social media.

Travelers can learn about AAA’s Top Destinations travel guides at AAA.com/mobile and download it from the iTunes Store. Everyone who downloads the free app to their iPad or iPad mini can access sample sections of the Top Destinations guides, and those who complete a one-time AAA member registration can access the full versions.

Heather HunterAAA Approved historic hotels offer travel experiences rich in culture, comfort and adventure

ORLANDO, Fla., (Aug. 6, 2013) – To help travelers connect with our nation’s history, AAA inspectors assembled a list of their favorite historic hotels — structures of notable record or architecture, typically 75 years or older. Artifacts range from an opulent pre-Depression luxury hotel to a flamboyant Old West rail stop to a sprawling mountain resort with a Prohibition speakeasy.

Here are America’s hotel experts’ 10 top picks for evoking an atmosphere of days gone by. Travelers can read about additional AAA Inspectors’ Favorite Historic Hotels on the AAA TravelViews blog, visit AAA’s historic hotels board on Pinterest and find more than 1,500 AAA Approved historic hotel listings on AAA.com.

 

Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, AAA Three Diamond Historic Bed & Breakfast, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Mission-style architecture adds charm to this ocean-view inn, situated on a terraced hillside among picturesque gardens.  Because there is no elevator, be prepared to climb the stairs to get a full perspective of the property. Each step you take unveils yet another hidden seating area, artistic tile work or lush landscaping accent.

 

The Driskill, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Austin, Texas

Opened in 1886 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1969, the hotel offers a spectacular lobby with inlaid marble floors and magnificent woodwork leading to a grand staircase. From the cattle barons of the Old West to LBJ commandeering the hotel to watch election returns to today’s celebrities, guests enjoy superior service and upscale amenities.

 

Fitger’s Inn, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Duluth, Minn.

This renovated Lake Superior brewery houses a historic hotel, an operating brewery, a brewery museum, shops and several restaurants. Guestrooms reflect the elegance of the brewery’s heydays, each unique in décor and size based on the style of building, many with great views of the lake.

 

The Grove Park Inn, AAA Four Diamond Historic Resort Hotel, Asheville, N.C.

Dating from 1913, the Arts and Crafts inspired architecture and interior design are meticulously maintained.  The lobby’s floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces mirror one another across the great hall. Distinguished past guests include the last 10 U.S. presidents, prolific authors and numerous political notables. Patrons enjoy outstanding cuisine, a 40,000-square-foot spa and a magnificent mountain view.

 

The Hermitage Hotel, AAA Five Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Nashville, Tenn.

The stunning 1910 architecture, restored to its grandeur in 2003, marks the building’s exterior and ornate, cathedral-height ceilings in the large open lobby. Impressive marble columns circle the lobby and one-of-a-kind antique furnishings create an environment of pre-Depression prosperity. One area not to miss is the impressive 1930s art deco style men’s room near the restaurant bar. (Women may enter after knocking.)

 

La Posada Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Winslow, Ariz.

A popular stop on the Santa Fe Railroad, the hotel is just down the street from the “corner in Winslow, Arizona” made famous by the Eagles’ lyrics. Guest attractions include the hotel’s art museum, historical exhibits, architecture, gardens and contemporary southwest cuisine from the Turquoise Room. Restorations that began in 1997 include plans to add a million dollar garden to fulfill a dream of the original designer, Mary Colter.

 

Lake Quinault Lodge, AAA Two Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Quinault, Wash.

This 1926 hotel where President Franklin D. Roosevelt once dined offers guestrooms with the smaller, sparser furnishings of an era when the idea was to spend time hiking in the rain forest or paddling at sunrise on the glass smooth lake. Guests can curl up next to the lobby’s roaring fire, relax in Adirondack chairs at sunset or casually stroll the rolling lawn.

 

The Occidental Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Buffalo, Wyo.

The Wild West comes to life with embossed ceilings, mounted animal trophies and antiques. Calamity Jane, Butch Cassidy, Teddy Roosevelt and members of the Hole in the Wall Gang stayed here. Each guestroom features a unique theme. The hotel, a restaurant and saloon featuring the original back bar plus a complex of storefronts comprise a city block.

 

Omni Mount Washington Hotel, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Bretton Woods, N.H.

Among its many historical claims is The Cave, a Prohibition-era speakeasy still operating as a bar and an octagon-shaped dining room designed to avoid seating any guest ‘in the corner.’ The property is renowned for hosting the 1944 Bretton Woods Monetary Conference that resulted in the creation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. From a distance, travelers note the stately structure’s distinctive red roof atop pristine-white stucco masonry and local granite, set against a backdrop of the White Mountains.

 

Strater Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Durango, Colo.

Steeped in history, this downtown landmark delivers world-class accommodations and hospitality. Employees in period costume add a sense of stepping back in time to your visit. The 93 Victorian-style rooms are filled with walnut antiques and period wallpapers. Western history enthusiasts enjoy the beautiful lobby, lounges and public space. Other offerings include fine dining, nightly live entertainment and live theatre performances.

 

The Willard InterContinental, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Opened in 1901, this time-honored hotel features rich, eye-catching Beaux Arts architecture. It was while staying here that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put the finishing touches to his “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1968 the hotel closed and fell into disrepair.  Demolition was averted by a developer who restored and reopened the hotel in 1986 to provide luxurious accommodations and a high level of personal services.

 

About AAA Inspections and Historic Hotels

AAA offers the only rating program that conducts comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with far more approved properties than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Travelers can find AAA Diamond Rated establishments across AAA’s online, mobile and printed travel information products.

 

Hotels classified as historic are typically 75 years or older with historic architecture, design, furnishings, public record or acclaim and at least one of the following: maintains integrity of historical nature, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, designated a National Historic Landmark or located in a National Register Historic District.

 

Heather HunterSurvey examines summer travel plans, identifying top priorities and key frustrations for travelers

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 2, 2013) – As the weather gets warmer and children finish the school year, many Americans are planning summer getaways. A new AAA survey reveals that two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. adults plan to take a leisure trip between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.   Those planning to travel, will hit the road a few times, averaging 3.5 trips during the summer months.  Additional findings from the survey also reveal that family and value are top priorities while unexpected expenses and finding time to take the perfect trip are the biggest frustrations.

Two-thirds to travel, one-third plan multi-generational trips

Sixty-six percent of Americans plan to take a least one trip during the summer travel season, with many planning to travel more than once. With an average of 3.5 trips among those traveling, 22 percent are planning one trip,   16 percent are planning two trips and the 29 percent are planning three or more trips between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Many travelers will also use these vacations as a time to build family bonds with nearly one in three (32 percent) of respondents plan to take a multi-generational trip in the next 12 months. For one-quarter of Americans the multi-generational trip will include both their children and their parents or their partner’s parents.

Top travel frustrations

The survey, fielded in April, shows that while value continues to be a top priority for travelers, 58 percent of respondents ranked unexpected expenses that can make developing a travel budget difficult the top vacation frustration. Additionally, finding the time to take the perfect vacation came in as the second largest travel frustration and finding the best price for lodging and transportation was third.  The full results of travel frustrations are listed below:

  • Unexpected expenses such as airline fees, resort fees or parking (58 percent)
  • Finding the time to take the perfect trip (52 percent)
  • Finding the best price for lodging and transportation (49 percent)
  • Airport security lines (45 percent)
  • Crowds at your destination (43 percent)
  • Packing for your vacation (27 percent)
  • Family arguments about where to go and what to do (21 percent)

Top considerations for choosing a hotel

Survey respondents continued to reiterate the importance of value as 85 percent of respondents cited overall value   as a top consideration for choosing a hotel. Added benefits such as free breakfast (63 percent) and free hi-speed Wi-Fi (51 percent) also ranked very high. When surveyed, 44 percent of respondents said they seek environmentally-friendly programs when selecting a hotel. The full results of top considerations when choosing a hotel are listed below:

Overall value for money (85 percent)

Convenience to attractions or activities (73 percent)

Free breakfast (63 percent)

Free, high speed Wi-Fi (51 percent)

Environmentally-friendly programs 44 percent)

Frequent travel programs or points (35 percent)

Pet-friendly (29 percent)

A spa (23 percent)

Children’s programs (23 percent)

The results of the survey show that Americans continue to prioritize travel, however they expect value and also desire convenience. The assistance a qualified travel agent, such as a AAA Travel Counselor can help consumers plan the perfect getaway that meets their need without the frustration of planning. For more information visit www.AAA.com/travel.

AAA provides travel planning information to travelers who wish to consider sustainability programs when making travel plans. Currently an ECO icon marks approximately 3,000 eligible lodging listings in the TourBook® guides, TripTik® Travel Planner and on AAA.com.

Heather HunterAAA travel guides now spotlight kid-friendly activities for many top destinations 

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 5, 2013) – Planning a trip the whole family will enjoy is easier when you let AAA’s travel professionals help point the way with expert recommendations. To select their top picks for key family travel destinations, AAA editors became kids again. With an eye toward finding options for tots to teens, they visited and played at countless attractions touted as kid friendly — many designated as AAA GEMs, offering a Great Experience for Members — along with notable restaurants and events. This family-friendly content is available in AAA’s popular digital and printed travel guides for select destinations.

“The key to a successful family vacation is planning activities that are fun and exciting for every member of your group, recognizing that what’s exciting to a 6-year old can differ from what appeals to teens,” said Bill Wood, executive editor, AAA Travel Publishing. “Recommendations from our editors help make these distinctions, ensuring easier travel planning and memorable vacation experiences.”

AAA’s Top Picks for Kids are currently available for 19 U.S. cities coast to coast, including New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Selections are separated into categories that include options for kids under 13, teens and kids of all ages.

AAA Editors’ Top Picks for Kids can be found in the AAA.com Travel Guides, the downloadable AAA eTourBook® guides available at AAA.com/ebooks and the printed AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA/CAA offices.

SAMPLE: AAA Editors’ Top Picks for Kids – Miami

UNDER 13 

Miami Seaquarium: At this AAA GEM attraction, kids enjoy the antics of Salty the sea lion, Flipper the dolphin and Lolita the killer whale. Between-show activities include saltwater exhibits with sea turtles and reef fish. There’s even a pirate ship playground with water guns and a spiral slide.

Monkey Jungle: What could be more fun than a whole park filled with monkeys? A fenced-in path through this subtropical forest keeps humans and monkeys safely separate while allowing visitors to get really close to these wonderful animals.

TEENS

Duck Tours South Beach: If you want to tour South Beach and get a taste of its rich Art Deco legacy without hearing choruses of, “I’m bored,” hop on an amphibious vehicle. The entertaining and educational 90-minute excursion concludes with a big splash into Biscayne Bay.

La Carreta Restaurant: Enjoy a delicious introduction to home-style Cuban cuisine, a big part of the Miami experience, at this local institution, a AAA One Diamond Restaurant, on Little Havana’s Calle Ocho (8th Street). Sample charbroiled meats and chicken-and-rice dishes, and snap a family photo with the giant metal chicken outside.

ALL AGES

Beaches: You’re in Florida after all. Miami Beach is the obvious choice, particularly if you are staying there. There is also nearby Key Biscayne with its two public beaches: Crandon Park – a 2-mile stretch of sand noted for its calm waters and rental cabanas – and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, with its postcard-worthy historic lighthouse.

Everglades National Park: Drive down to South Florida’s wilderness jewel, a AAA GEM attraction. This endangered “River of Grass” is a haven to birds as well as alligators, snakes, turtles and manatees. Drive the 38 miles from the entrance to the Flamingo Visitor Center and enjoy the views from your car. Trailheads radiate out from the road at several spots, inviting short hikes. A thrilling high-speed way to explore the park is by airboat ride, offered at Everglades Alligator Farm and Everglades Safari Park.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Vacation loyalists still traveling despite rising fuel costs

ORLANDO, Fla., (April 5, 2012) – Large numbers of vacation loyalists are still traveling despite rising fuel costs, according to a recent AAA travel agent survey and travel sales data.  AAA Travel’s lists of top summer vacation destinations include choices popular with American families for generations within the United States and around the world.  Many seasoned vacationers are expanding their travel horizons to exotic faraway lands.  While many Americans head to their computers when planning a summer getaway, planning a vacation can be overwhelming.  AAA Travel has seen a continuation of the number of vacationers seeking expert advice from a travel counselor to help guide their decisions, save countless hours of research and gain insight into popular destination.   AAA has more than 3,000 travel counselors located within more than 1,000 AAA Travel offices across the United States and Canada.

“Many Americans consider travel a mainstay to our way of life and are loyal vacationers,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “While some Americans may modify their travel due to rising fuel costs, those who can are still choosing to travel and they are traversing the world.” 

Last year, several airlines made cost-saving adjustments by reducing seating capacity, consolidating routes, and replacing large aircraft with smaller more fuel-efficient airplanes.  Following those capacity reductions and this year’s rising fuel costs, some travel suppliers including tour companies and cruise lines have begun offering price incentives to attract travelers.  Savvy summer vacationers have been taking advantage of those incentives especially for international travel.  Vacationers can visit the nearest AAA Travel office or AAA.com for more price incentive information.

AAA Travel’s Top Summer Vacation Destinations by travel category are:

AAA’s Top Summer Land Vacation Destinations:  

Orlando, Florida
Honolulu, Hawaii
Rome, Italy
London, England
Anaheim, California

Leading the way in popularity for summer travel are vacations to the Orlando area, consistently holding the valedictorian spot in the top destination class year after year.

AAA’s Top Summer Cruise Vacation Destinations:

Caribbean
Alaska
Bahamas
Europe
Bermuda

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) forecasts that more than 17 million vacationers will cruise the world’s waterways in 2012, one million more than last year. AAA Travel sales data shows significant increases in cruise bookings for the summer family vacation season and throughout 2012 and into 2013.

AAA’s Top Summer Exotic Vacation Destinations: 

China
Peru
The Galapagos
The Amazon
India

Many seasoned vacation loyalists have been choosing AAA Vacations® – a collection of customized cruise and land vacation packages designed exclusively for AAA members – to fulfill their exotic travel desires.  AAA Vacations® destinations include once-in-a-lifetime experiences like a visit to an off-the-beaten-path section of the Great Wall of China.

Travel counselors at AAA receive frequent travel updates and stay abreast of price changes, travel alerts and continuously monitor the overall travel landscape. Their time, personalized service and first-hand destination knowledge enables them to offer valuable destination tips and sightseeing recommendations adding irreplaceable value to the vacation price.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA’s TripTik Mobile app puts room reservations and cost savings at travelers’ fingertips   

ORLANDO, Fla., (April 2, 2012) – As gas prices continue to rise, travelers are seeking additional sources of price information and available savings.  AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, announces the launch of new capabilities in a trusted travel information resource, the AAA TripTik Mobile app for iPhone and Android smartphone users.  The free AAA TripTik Mobile application uses first of its kind functionality – powered by Travelocity Partner Network – to put hotel room reservations at users’ fingertips via their smartphone or tablet.     

AAA members on the go in need of hotel reservations at the last minute or well in advance can now easily book available rooms, research property amenities and take advantage of AAA member room rates with a simple tap of the book button. Gas station locations, frequently updated gas prices and more than 2,000 publicly available electric vehicle charging stations are other valuable travel budgeting features available with the free AAA TripTik Mobile app. 

“The integration of the new mobile hotel booking engine into our TripTik mobile app provides unmatched convenience and cost savings to AAA members on the go,” said Ted Petty, managing director, AAA Travel Technology. “The addition brings enhanced versatility to an already valuable and trusted travel tool,” added Ramin Kalhor, managing director, AAA Publishing Systems.   

Smartphone users can download the free GPS-based AAA TripTik Mobile app from the iTunes Store, Android Market, or find more information at AAA.com/Mobile.

Additional GPS-based apps include AAA Discounts, which displays nearby member discount locations and AAA Roadside, which enables members who need roadside rescue to send AAA their location, vehicle description and breakdown details. The AAA Insurance app guides users on what to do immediately after a traffic collision, and AAA Auto Buying Tools helps prospective buyers build their ideal car and view pricing, ratings, AAA reviews and more.  

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., November 2, 2011 –

Expected cuts in airline capacity, American pent-up travel demand fueling European travel price sales and early booking discounts

Airlines are expected to cut seating capacity on international flights to Europe next year between five percent and 10 percent, according to TravCorp USA.  The AAA Preferred Travel Partner expects the percentage of reduction to fluctuate by destination as the region’s economic outlook is evaluated.  Airline seating capacity reductions to Paris, Frankfurt and London are among those currently being studied. Travelers are advised to book now for the best deals.

As airlines contemplate capacity reductions, AAA surveys of intended travelers indicate that travel in general is increasing due primarily to pent-up demand.  Responses to AAA travel surveys conducted throughout the year indicate that Americans have maintained a deep desire to travel throughout the economic downturn and have tired of waiting for the United States economy to improve.  Increasing numbers of AAA Travel customers are moving forward with vacation purchases to Europe.

“Americans need and want to spend time with family creating life-time travel memories and fulfilling their bucket list along the way,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services.  “Current savings and booking incentives on European travel make this the perfect time to plan that dream Europe vacation.”

According to AAA Travel sales data, the top five European destinations for travel during the first half of 2012 are Rome; London; Dublin, Ireland; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Paris. Current Europe vacation purchases for travel in the first quarter of 2012 are 15 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2011. Sales for Europe travel during the second quarter of 2012 are 21 percent higher than the second quarter of this year.

Most airlines and travel suppliers are responding to the pent-up demand and expected airline capacity cuts by providing immediate savings opportunities on travel to Europe.  Some cruise lines are modifying itineraries to appeal to specific travelers such as wine enthusiasts and moving more cabin capacity to popular destinations like the Mediterranean.

Price reduction offers include sales on travel and cruises during the remainder of 2011 including the holiday season, early booking discounts and price incentives to pay-in-full at the time of booking for travel in 2012, to name a few.  The key to securing a great travel value is knowing when to buy.  For travel to Europe, that time is now.

Planning international travel can be a daunting task. Partnering with a professional travel counselor who specializes in international travel will save vacationers countless hours of research time, and provide access to additional vacation options sold only through travel agencies.

Travel counselors at AAA Travel receive frequent international travel updates and stay abreast of price changes, document requirement changes, travel alerts and continuously monitor the overall international travel landscape. Their time, personalized service, first-hand destination knowledge to offer tips on places to shop, dine and sightsee adds irreplaceable value to the vacation price.

AAA Travel recently launched AAA Vacations® – a collection of escorted, hosted and independent tours and vacation packages to destinations throughout the world.  AAA Vacations® are customized tours and packages designed to deliver unique, engaging and exclusive vacation experiences to AAA members.  Visit your nearest AAA office or AAA.com for more information.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2011

Nation’s largest motor club encourages all drivers to do three easy maintenance tasks to help avoid becoming stranded, improve their safety and save money on gas
Christie HydeThe summer travel season kicks off later this week with the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and AAA estimates it will come to the rescue of 8.7 million stranded motorists between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“More than 30 million Americans are expected to take road trips during the Memorial Day holiday weekend and, unfortunately, many of them will end up stranded by the roadway,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information. “However, there are three easy maintenance tasks any driver can perform to reduce their chances of becoming stranded, improve the safety of their road trip and even save a little money.”

Additional Resources

The three maintenance tasks AAA recommends all motorists to perform before hitting the road for a summer road trip include:

1. Inspect All FIVE Tires

Many motorists may be confused when told to check five tires, however AAA has found one of the most frequently overlooked items on a vehicle is the spare tire. When inspecting tires, it’s important also to make sure the spare is in good condition and ready for use in case it’s needed.

“Roughly 1.2 million drivers will call AAA for help with a flat tire during the summer travel season, and many of those problems could be avoided by inspecting the tires before hitting the road,” said Nielsen. “Tire inspections are simple to perform. The only tools needed are a quarter and a tire pressure gauge.”

Begin every tire inspection with a pressure check. “Eighty-five percent of drivers do not know how to properly inflate their tires, and more than half of all cars on the road have at least one under-inflated tire,” explained Nielsen.

Always check tire pressure when the tires are at ambient temperature and the car has not been driven recently. Use a quality gauge to make sure all five tires are inflated to the pressures recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—which is probably not the maximum pressure molded into the sidewall of the tire. The carmaker’s recommendation can be found on a sticker usually attached to the driver’s door jam, in the owner’s manual and sometimes on the gas cap door. Drivers should be aware that the recommended pressures for front and rear tires may differ, and the spare may require yet another pressure. Most space saver spares require much higher air pressures than normal vehicle tires.

Properly inflated tires also can reduce fuel costs during a trip. The Department of Energy reports that correctly inflating all four tires can improve fuel economy by up to three percent, which is equivalent to as much as to 12 cents per gallon.

After making sure all five tires are properly inflated, drivers should inspect the tread depth and overall condition of the tires. Worn tires in need of replacement are much more likely to suffer punctures and other problems. An industry survey found one out of every 10 cars has at least one bald tire, and 64 percent of drivers do not know how to check their tread depth.

To check tread depth, insert a quarter into a tire tread groove with Washington’s head upside down and facing outward. The tread should cover part of Washington’s head. If any area above his head is visible, it might be wise to go tire shopping before you take a long road trip. Be sure to check the tread depth at several points around the tire and across its width, and use the lowest reading.

While checking the tire tread wear, also look for signs of uneven wear or abnormal bulges or other damage on the tire treads and sidewalls. “Taking a few minutes to inspect your tires once a month can help keep you rolling down the roadway instead of being stranded by the roadside,” noted Nielsen.

2. Check and Clean Car Battery

AAA estimates it will assist nearly 1.7 million motorists with dead batteries during the summer driving season—replacing nearly 700,000 batteries at the roadside. Summer heat breaks down car batteries internally and accelerates the rate of corrosion on the vehicle’s battery terminals. Both conditions can lead to insufficient electrical power being available, and leave a motorist stranded without warning.

Check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. It is not enough to simply remove external corrosion; proper cleaning requires disconnecting the cables to clean the hidden areas where they contact the battery terminals.

Depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns, most car batteries have a three to five year service life. If a battery is nearing the end of its lifecycle, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop or by the AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if replacing the battery prior before your road trip might be a good idea.

If it’s time to replace a car’s battery, AAA members can get a quote on a replacement battery while on the go on their phone with the AAA Roadside app, available for iPhone and Android, or on any web-enabled mobile device using AAA Mobile Web at AAA.mobi.

3. Replace Wiper Blades and Refill Washer Fluid

Low or no windshield washer fluid was the number two problem AAA uncovered during its 2010 car care inspections. Rain, insects, grime and other debris on a windshield will compromise the driver’s vision, and safety, if the windshield wipers cannot remove them. A supply of the proper washer fluid, delivered effectively to the glass, helps the wipers remove these contaminants.

Check the windshield washer fluid reservoir monthly or more often if the washers are used frequently. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris. Be sure to test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

While topping off the washer fluid, also check the wiper blades. If blades are worn, cracked or rigid with age, they will not adequately remove rain, grime and other debris that can obscure driver vision. If the wiper blades are sufficiently deteriorated, the metal wiper blade frame could contact and permanently damage the windshield.

Check the wiper blades at every oil change or whenever they fail to wipe the glass clean in a single swipe. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain and ozone. Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and replacement is needed.

“While any driver can perform these three simple maintenance tasks before a summer road trip, they are not the only services your car needs to stay in top notch operating condition. It is also important to have your car serviced regularly according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual,” said Nielsen.

This summer, AAA will remedy three out of five motorists’ car problems at the roadside and get them back on the go. However, an estimated 3.7 million drivers will suffer more significant troubles that will require towing to a place of repair. Regular vehicle maintenance can help a motorist avoid becoming one of the unlucky drivers who end up spending part of their summer vacation hooked to a tow truck.

To help consumers identify quality auto repair shops that can assist in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles, AAA offers the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service. AAA-approved repair facilities meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can look for the Approved Auto Repair sign at local auto repair facilities, or search for a nearby AAA-approved shop online at AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 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. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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