A strong dollar and pent-up demand are likely to make 2017 a banner year for vacations, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California and AAA. A recent AAA survey reveals that 42 percent of Americans are planning to take a vacation in 2017 – with most planning trips to the warm weather destinations in the U.S. and abroad. Approximately one-third (30 percent) of U.S. adults say they are more likely to take a vacation this year compared to 2016, and they’re looking for a new kind of travel experience.
“Because the U.S. dollar is now so strong compared to the Euro and other foreign currencies, 2017 vacation package prices are lower than in 2015 and 2016,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Travelers will benefit this year from lower costs for shopping and experiences as well as travel costs because of the favorable exchange rate.”
For example, the popular Trafalgar Tours itinerary “Best of Italy” was priced starting at $3,025 per person in 2015 but now is available starting at $2,750. “Even if you are planning a trip for much later in the year or in 2018, it’s worth it to investigate booking now and purchasing travel insurance so you can get a refund if you need to change or cancel the trip,” Andre said.
AAA’s travel bookings for 2017 to date reveal the following top vacation destinations for Americans:
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (2)
- Rome, Italy (1)
- Montego Bay, Jamaica (3)
- London, England (4)
- Nassau, Bahamas (6)
- Orlando, Florida (1)
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2)
- Anaheim, California (3)
- Miami, Florida (4)
- Las Vegas, Nevada (6)
*Numbers in parentheses indicate 2016 rankings.
According to AAA, destinations with the most notable increases in travel bookings include Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Toronto and Vancouver, Canada; and Cancun, Mexico.
AAA Travel has identified these top trends for 2017:
- Experiential Travel: Both novice and expert travelers alike are seeking travel experiences that help to facilitate a deeper connection to the cultures, people and traditions of a destination. For example, AAA has noted an increase in travelers booking tours that include opportunities to dine with local families or receive hands-on tutorials from local craftspeople.
- O Canada: Canada is an increasingly popular vacation destination, thanks to its close location and favorable currency exchange rates that make trips there affordable and accessible to more Americans. Canada will also celebrate its 150th birthday in 2017, offering visitors many opportunities to experience special events and learn more about the country’s history and traditions.
- The “I”s Have It: AAA notes a significant amount of demand for travelers visiting Europe in 2017. Ireland and Iceland are expected to be particularly popular, thanks to the availability of low airfares and the perception that both countries are safe—yet for many travelers, previously unexplored—destinations.
- River Cruising: According to a AAA survey, four in 10 Americans would consider a river cruise for an upcoming vacation and 24 percent said they are likely to take a river cruise in the next five years. And despite the perception that river cruising appeals primarily to older generations, millennials are more likely to consider a river cruise for an upcoming vacation than either their Generation X or Baby Boomer counterparts.
- National Parks: The National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016, to great fanfare. Following all-time record visitation in 2015, the national parks remain an attractive vacation destination for many. According to a recent AAA survey, 79 percent of Americans say they are as likely or more likely to visit a national park through the first half of this year, building on the momentum of last year’s centennial celebrations.
Before setting out on a vacation, travelers should contact their local AAA office for the expert advice of a trusted travel advisor who can provide personalized service and first-hand destination knowledge to create a memorable vacation experience. Travelers can also download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can be used to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, request roadside assistance and more. For more information or to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.