AAA survey reveals Americans’ summer travel plans, including getting value for their money

BOISE – (May 30, 2013) You can learn a lot about what’s important to family, friends and the guy next door by seeing what they do and don’t want to do on their summer vacations. A new AAA survey reveals what Americans want and what they hope to avoid this summer travel season.

Two-thirds of American adults (66%) plan to take a leisure trip this summer. Some plan to take just one trip (22%), but one in three (29%) plans to take three or more jaunts. In fact, the average adult will try to get away from it all 3.5 times.

Their top priorities will be family and value during the summer months. “Neither is surprising, really, especially after a slow, sometimes agonizing recovery from the Great Recession,” says AAA Idaho spokesperson Dave Carlson. “We value spending time with those we love and getting the most for our hard-earned money.”

Many travelers will use these vacations as an opportunity to nurture some family bonds with 32 percent planning to take a multi-generational trip in the next 12 months. For one-quarter of us, the multi-generational trip will include both their children and their parents or their partner’s parents.

Top travel frustrations

More than half (58%) of the respondents said unexpected expenses that challenge their travel budgeting get under their skin more than anything else. Finding the time to take the perfect trip comes in a close second at 52 percent.

Other travel trials include finding the best price for lodging and transportation (49%); encountering airport security lines (45%); dealing with crowds once they reach their destinations (43%); and packing for the dreaded affair (27%).

“Even the sanest of families find there’s room for disagreement,” Carlson says. That’s why family arguments about where to go and what do (21%) also made the list, he said.

Choosing a hotel and other family values

When it comes to choosing a hotel, 85 percent of the survey respondents are looking for value, not just a place to lay their heads. And what considerations comprise that decision?

A free breakfast (63%) goes a long way in making the vacation more enjoyable. Free hi-speed Wi-Fi (51%) also ranked very high. Travelers are also on the lookout for environmentally-friendly programs (44%); frequent travel programs or points (35%); pet-friendly accommodations (29%), a spa (23%) and children’s programs (23%).

The results of the survey show that Americans continue to prioritize travel, especially along the lines of value and convenience. The assistance of a qualified travel professional, such as a AAA Travel Counselor can help consumers plan the perfect getaway that meets their need without the frustration of doing the planning themselves. For more information, visit

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

And where are Idahoans going?

“On a decidedly less scientific note, we can tell you that Yellowstone Park, the Oregon Coast and Mount Rushmore are popular drives for Idahoans this summer,” AAA’s Carlson said. “In some cases locals are just looking for maps and routings, and maybe a hotel or two along the way.”

More motorists may opt for shorter drives than was once the case, but it would be a mistake to conclude that Idahoans have limited travel horizons. “The stereotypical cross-country summer vacations from a generation or two ago have been replaced with value-packed air and cruise packages,” Carlson said.

“European riverboat tours are hot, hot, hot!” exclaims AAA Idaho travel supervisory Linda Harbin. That may sound unusual, but travelers are nothing, if not savvy, about how to spend their vacation time, AAA Idaho says.

Other popular destinations include Disneyland and Disneyworld, because they include plenty to see and experience for families with children. These trips require more planning and are generally booked well in advance of actual travel time, with the help of an experienced, seasoned travel agent. That’s also true of all-inclusive vacation packages to places like Cancun, Mexico.

Cruises are booked seasonally and months ahead of actual travel. Perennially popular Alaskan and Caribbean cruises are popular hotspots for Idahoans, as well.