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New Trends in Family Travel

Family travel is on the rise this summer, according to almost four out of five (79%) American Express Travel agents polled nationwide, who identified it as one of this year's most significantly increasing travel trends.

This summer, family vacations are expanding beyond the traditional getaways to include newer, broader, more active and meaningful travel plans, say agents. They say that top motivators for family travel include the desire to introduce children to different cultures, customs and lifestyles, to experience new things together and create lasting memories.

Results from the 2006 American Express Travel poll of 279 of their agents found that family travel today means more than the typical nuclear family trip of the past. Eighty-one percent of agents are booking family vacations consisting of multi-generational trips that include grandparents. Additionally, more than two-thirds (69%) of agents are seeing grandparents traveling exclusively with their grandchildren -- independent of Mom and Dad. Other trends spotted by agents include adult children traveling with their parents (69%); family and family friends traveling together as one large group (67%); "blended" families, consisting of divorced/remarried parents with their new spouses and children, traveling together (31%); and extended family members including aunts, uncles and cousins taking trips as a collective group (28%).   

American Express Travel agents say that families are increasingly drawn to active and experience-driven travel plans. In fact, poll results showed that agents are booking more outdoor, adventure family vacations (62%), along with more international family vacations (57%). Almost half (49%) of travel agents polled recognized cruising as a growing trend in family travel. Families are also taking trips to celebrate the family itself with family reunions on the rise, according to the 41% of agents who said they had been asked to plan such a trip this year. These trends spotted by travel agents echo what we have been seeing here at the Family Travel Network.

Another key trend is a rise in family members pairing up to travel. Almost two-thirds (64%) of agents are seeing a rise in mother-daughter getaways; and 36% of agents noted an increase in father-son travel. Almost two-thirds of agents said that spa getaways make up most mother-daughter vacations; while fathers and sons most often choose active vacations, such as hunting, biking, hiking or fishing.  The Family Travel Network noted a significant increase in requests for mother-daughter spa vacations in 2004, and have published our yearly top spas report on The Family Travel Network every year since then.

Top Family Destinations This Summer

According to travel agents polled, many of the long-standing, family- friendly U.S. and international destinations continue to hold strong for families this summer. Within the U.S., Orlando ranked first, above New York City and Miami, which claimed the second and third spots, respectively. Las Vegas and Hawaii rounded out the top five domestic travel destinations for families.

When agents were asked to name the most popular international destinations for families, London, Rome and Paris, took the top three spots. Other popular international destinations for families included Cancun, Mexico, Nassau in the Bahamas, and San Jose, Costa Rica.

What to Pack/ What to Carry

In addition to creating customized travel experiences for families, American Express Travel agents offer advice on everything from what customers should pack to how they can keep valuables safe and secure while traveling. Agents recommend that travelers keep the following in their carry-on bags: prescription or over-the-counter medications (94%); personal identification, such as a passport (91%); travel itinerary and confirmation information (86%); change of clothing (86%); Travelers Cheque serial numbers (76%); and toiletries (76%). Agents say that the best ways to secure personal valuables is by using hotel safes, avoiding carrying valuables in one place, and bringing various forms of payment including those that are refundable during the vacation, such as Travelers Cheques. Agents also suggest tucking items away in money belts and neck wallets.

About the Poll

Data on 2006 family travel trends was collected via an online poll of 279 American Express Travel agents across the U.S. The poll was fielded during the first and second weeks of May 2006.


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