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Families Travel Farther, Spend More, and Take Shorter Vacations

Published Aug 23rd 2007, 9:55pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Wkw037w According to a Best Western International Poll, Fido is more popular in the back seat than Grandma on vacation!

Today's family vacations are shorter yet more elaborate and expensive, involving journeys to farther -- particularly exotic -- locations than what most people remember from their childhood, according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive commissioned by Best Western International. In addition, travelers are more likely to include pets in their trips over grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Vacation 2.0: Now Versus Then
Eighty-eight percent of U.S. adults who take family vacations indicated that a getaway these days is different from when they were children. More than half (55 percent) claimed that today's vacations are more expensive, while just over two-fifths (42 percent) said they now travel greater distances. The study also found that:

-- 36 percent stay in hotels more now than as a child, with 29 percent of adults who have children under 18 living in their households indicating they are less likely than those without children living with them (39 percent) to stay in hotels more now than they did as a child.

-- While more than a quarter of respondents indicated that today's vacations have become more elaborate than they remember (28 percent) and that they go to more exotic locales than they did as a child (27 percent), 19 percent say vacations have become shorter now than in their youth.

-- When respondents were asked who comes along on their family vacations, more people indicated they include their pets (13 percent) over grandparents (10 percent), aunts and uncles (9 percent) and cousins (nine percent). On a regional level, Midwest travelers are slightly more likely to include pets  vs. those in the West, South, or Northeast.

Value Still Reigns Supreme
Among those who take family vacations, value for the money (62 percent) and the desire to spend time with loved ones (38 percent) are the top considerations when determining where to go on the family vacation, as opposed to an equal amount of activities for adults and children, which came in near the bottom at 14 percent.

"Though value for the money is still a primary factor for many American families, today's vacation experience is impacted by a number of changes in the way they spend their free time," said Emily Kaufman, Best Western's family travel expert otherwise known as The Travel Mom. "For example, parents who remember taking simple family road trips to visit relatives, or go camping or fishing when they were kids, are now embarking on more frequent, yet shorter getaways to places they never dreamed of visiting when they were young."

The 2007 Best Western International Family Vacation Study also discovered that, contrary to popular opinion, children do not always determine where the family goes on vacation. Only one percent of adults polled indicated that the kids have the most sway in the decision-making process. Despite the fact that many upscale properties are adding "kids concierge services" and other special programs for children, the presence of specific kids' activities or programs at a resort is actually the least important factor in selecting a place to go for vacation. Only 4 percent overall of those who usually stay in hotels for family vacations and 12 percent of those with children under 18 living in their households who stay in hotels for family vacations cited this as one of the most important factors in selecting a hotel. Families whose households include children under 18 (30 percent) are less likely than those without kids (40 percent) to consider educational, historic, or cultural experiences as a factor in where to go on a family vacation.

by Brandy Schaffels
Contributing Editor

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