Family travel plans not limited to holiday time

Off-season usually means high-savings

According to a recent survey 61% of parents with school age children would be willing to take their kids out of school to take a family vacation. Five years ago the number was closer to 40%.

Family travel is no longer limited to summer and school holiday time. Parents today put more emphasis on family bonding and finding alternate times to travel as a family. In fact, 60 percent of parents say they would be willing to take their children out of school for a vacation (up from 57 percent in 2003), according to the YPB&R 2006 National Leisure Travel Monitor.

More families are traveling during the off-season when prices are lower and crowds are smaller. Fall (October, November, December) in particular is fast becoming a popular family vacation time and now accounts for 24 percent of all family travel in the United States, according to the Travel Industry Association. This season is second only to summer (July, August, September), which accounts for 33 percent of family travel.

While AAA cannot exclusively track family travel bookings, AAA's overall bookings for this fall are up 3.9 percent compared to 2005, and vacation package bookings are up 9.3 percent.

"This year-round family travel trend reflects that parents, due to work schedules or budget, view the entire year as providing opportunities to travel with their children, rather than just the traditional summer vacation," said Robert Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA. "Today's family travelers are baby boomers or Gen Xers who want their children to have the kind of travel experience they cherished as a child. For some parents, it is a chance to give their children the family vacations they never had. Since fall travel means taking children out of school for a period of time, AAA recommends that additional planning may be needed to ensure that schoolwork is covered and that families get the most out of their vacation.

Those planning a fall vacation should first visit their local AAA Travel Office or for a wide variety of family-friendly trip planning resources, such as the TripTik? travel planner. This visually appealing, interactive online tool is easy for school age children to use so the entire family can help plan the vacation. While the adults check out the lodging and dining, the kids can research destinations and plot attractions and other places to visit.

AAA TourBook guides, free to members at AAA and CAA offices nationwide, are another great resource. The 26 regional TourBook guides -- covering the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean -- provide a wealth of information about cultural and historical sites and list AAA-inspected and AAA Diamond-rated lodgings, including those where children stay for free. Listings indicate family-friendly amenities such as swimming pools, in-room movies, DVD players, playgrounds and products that make travel more fun for children. TourBook guide information is also accessible through and the TripTik? travel planner.

In addition, AAA provides free maps and sells numerous games, activity books, and other children's travel items at office locations. The association also offers the assistance of knowledgeable, professional travel counselors who can help you map your trip, plan the activities that will help you and your children get the most out of your vacation, and get some exclusive money-saving deals.

If Walt Disney World or Disneyland are a part of your family vacation plans, AAA Vacations? packages, only available at AAA Travel, offer exclusive benefits such as free or preferred parking. Special savings for AAA/CAA members are also available on various selected packages.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 49 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.