Northwestern Press

Monday, October 22, 2018

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Thursday, May 31, 2018 by The Press in Opinion

Summer travelers seeking sunny destinations

Millions of Americans are counting down the days until their summer vacations begin, with most U.S. travelers planning trips to warm-weather destinations.

Orlando has retained its top spot as the most visited domestic travel destination, while Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii, have both grown in popularity compared to last summer.

“With the end of the long winter, this is shaping up to be another strong year for travel to sunny destinations,” said Bevi Powell, AAA East Central senior vice president. “We’re seeing an up tick in people planning cruises, as well as favorites such as beaches, theme parks, and cities across the globe.”

The top domestic summer travel destinations, based on national AAA Travel bookings for trips June 1 through Aug. 15, are:

1) Orlando, Florida

2) Honolulu, Hawaii

3) Anchorage, Alaska

4) Seattle, Washington

5) Los Angeles, Anaheim, Calif.

6) Maui, Hawaii

7) Fairbanks, Alaska

8) Las Vegas, Nev.

9) Boston, Mass.

10) Salt Lake City, Utah

Road trips remain the most popular family vacation option for those staying stateside, despite higher gas prices.

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those planning a family trip are expected to hit the roads this year.

Rome has regained its standing as the most popular locale for international summer vacations, while Dublin and Paris both continue to climb in the national rankings. Beach destinations in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico can also expect an influx of travelers this summer.

AAA’s top international summer travel destinations include:

1) Rome, Italy

2) Vancouver, British Columbia

3) Dublin, Ireland

4) London, England

5) Paris, France

6) Montego Bay, Jamaica

7) Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

8) Calgary, Alberta

9) Cancun, Mexico

10) Amsterdam, Netherlands

AAA Travel’s experts offer their top tips for travelers planning summer vacations, including:

•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 the perfect summer vacation. They can also be a tremendous help in the event something changes or goes wrong on your trip.

•Be flexible — If your schedule permits, avoid traveling during peak times this summer, including around Independence Day, to encounter less congestion and fewer crowds.

•Safety first — If driving, get plenty of rest before setting out on your road trip. Schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy. While driving, make sure you limit all distractions to avoid driving “Intexticated.”

•Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready – Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Pack an emergency kit that includes a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic tool kit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.

•Pack your patience – Summer is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Expect heavy crowds and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.

To help travelers plan their summer vacations, AAA’s professional inspectors have assessed nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Every AAA inspected and approved hotel and restaurant is acceptable for the type of experience it provides.

Ratings, from One to Five Diamonds, help travelers find the level of services, facilities and amenities they’re looking for on their vacation.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments in AAA Travel Guides and the TripTik Travel Planner. For more information and to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.

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AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.