The outlook for family summer travel is bright, according to a new national survey by Choice Hotels International, Inc. and FamilyFun magazine. The study explored families’ travel preferences, from top places to go to famous families they would like to take along for the ride.
With the economy improving, more than four out of five respondents (83%) plan to take an overnight leisure trip of more than 100 miles round-trip this summer, up from last year’s survey (78%). In fact, the majority of these travelers (53%) expect to take two or more leisure trips this summer. Shrinking regional air routes and rising airline fees may be driving a return of the classic American road trip. Fully nine in 10 respondents (90%) planning summer holiday trips will make the journey by car.
SNAPSHOT OF THIS SUMMER’S FAMILY TRAVELER, ACCORDING TO THE CHOICE HOTELS/FAMILYFUN MAGAZINE SUMMER TRAVEL SURVEY:
Famous Family Travel Companions – Which famous family would Americans most want sharing the backseat (or minivan) with them?
- The frontrunners are the Obamas (23%) and the Jennifer Garner/Ben Affleck family (22%).
- The Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt family trails far behind as the choice of 8% of families.
- Honey Boo-Boo’s family topped the list of Worst Celebrity Family Road Trip Companions (33%) followed by the Kardashians (21%).
Why Road Trips Rule. – Most families choose road trips for the affordability, flexibility and family bonding time.
- 54% said driving is less expensive than flying.
- More than 40% agreed, “driving gives us more control over our schedule and lets us “take as much luggage/gear as we like” and “take in scenery/attractions along the way.”
- 22% said “driving gives us better family bonding time.”
Are We There Yet?– What are the biggest pet peeves for vacationing families while on the road?
- Getting stuck in traffic is No. 1, cited by 57% of the families.
- More than a third said drivers who are rude or dangerous (39%) and car trouble (36%).
- Also at the top on the list: children complaining about the length of the drive (29%).
- Busting a widespread car trip myth, only 10% said “not liking the way my spouse drives.”
Tech Toys.The majority of families (56%) said technology makes road trips more fun. So how many devices does it take to make a family road trip today?
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- Most families (61%) plan to take three – five tech/media devices, including smartphones (68%), GPS navigation system (49%) and laptops (42%).
- Reflecting the explosive growth of tablets, more than a third (37%) will take an iPad or other tablet on vacation.
Backseat Boredom Bypass. To keep kids carefree in the car, families mix technology with oldies but goodies.
- Topping the charts: Bringing along plenty of snacks and drinks, cited by nearly three-quarters (73%) of families.
- Tech/media devices are diversions of choice, including portable DVD players (59%), video games/other electronic toys (51%) and MP3s (36%).
- Classic road trip pastimes are still in the mix, with families enjoying traditional car games like I Spy (27%) and singing along to music as a family (20%).
- Comedy and crafts are part of the fun. 18% favor telling funny family stories and coloring/doing arts & crafts projects in the car.
Affordability: King Of The Road. Families are looking for affordability, a priority that echoes throughout the survey, including hotel selection.
- Nearly three-quarters of families (73%) cite “is affordable for my budget” as a top consideration in choosing a hotel.
- Approximately half also place a premium on free breakfast (50%), a pool (49%) and a convenient location near attractions and restaurants (48%).
- Despite the recent buzz about room service – whether to have or to have not – only 8% of families count this among their priorities when choosing a place to spend the night.
Staycations: In the Rear View Mirror. Many families have put the staycation trend that emerged during the Great Recession behind them.
- Compared to last summer, they are planning to take longer vacations (33%), travel farther from home (29%) and go on more trips (24%).
- Another sign of the improving travel outlook, 19% of families will take a summer holiday trip that they have been putting off for a year or more.
Top Trip Picks. Classic vacations still fuel family fun.
- Going to the beach is a top pick for most families (58%).
- Also big draws: Trips to theme/amusement parks (48%), homes of family and friends (43%), and state and national parks (30%).
- Cities still have their allure, chosen by 28% of families.
Momtrends was not paid for this post.