GET OUT OF TOWN

Dave Schwab

Fri July 29, 2016 10:53am

Now that summer’s here, more than one-third of American families are planning to take a family vacation 50 miles or more away from home. And surveys show 55 percent of them are saying they’re more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices.
When asked what there is to do, where the best places are to go for a mid-summer vacation getaway, Kim Sykes, marketing manager for Carefree Vacations (9710 Scranton Road, Suite 17, San Diego) replied, “There are great summer specials on both cruise and land vacations right now for August travel. Cruise lines offer flash sale rates for short-notice travel, and travel agents can offer additional discounts and shipboard credits that you can’t find online. There are also some great land vacation packages that agents get special notice about including air-inclusive deals, fifth-night-free options and packages where kids travel free.”  
With all the online travel sites available, is there any advantage to booking the old-fashioned way through a travel agent? Sykes said you’re missing out if you don’t.
“Travel agents are a great resource for not only finding the best deals, but also learning about the destination to help you choose exactly where you want to go and when,” she said, adding, “Carefree Vacations travel agents are very well traveled and get daily specials in their in boxes from our cruise- and land-travel providers.” Sykes said selecting August as the right time for family travel was the correct choice. 
“August is a great month for travel to places like Alaska, Mexico, Europe, the South Pacific and Africa,” she said. “If you’re looking for more remote locations that are off the beaten path, let your travel agent know and they will have suggestions to accommodate your need for a unique experience. Even in countries where August is the high season for tourism, your travel agent can work with you to create an itinerary that is both authentic and personal to you.”
What about places to go for singles or couples with no kids this summer?  
“There are beautiful, romantic, all-inclusive resorts that are adult-only in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and throughout the Caribbean,” said Sykes. “Mexico and Costa Rica also have some absolutely stunning adult-only all-inclusive resorts that our agents have visited. They can share with you all the intimate details of these options and more.”
AAA Travel experts shared these tips for families planning vacations this year:Road trips: Map out a route in advance to make the most of
your road trip. Drivers should plan frequent stops, about every 100 miles or two hours, to remain alert.
National parks: The National Park Service celebrates its centennial in 2016, making it a great year for travelers to discover the parks. The most popular national parks, such as Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Yosemite, may reach capacity during peak travel times, so plan ahead. For families traveling on a budget, national parks are waiving entrance fees this year Aug. 25-28, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11.
Theme parks: Theme parks in Orlando and Southern California are expected to continue growing in popularity this summer as new attractions debut at parks coast-to-coast.
International vacations: Favorable exchange rates and discounted pricing are helping many families plan trips to international destinations this year. The current strength of the dollar makes international travel especially affordable right now and Americans will get more for their money when visiting destinations around the world.
Cruises: Cruises offer a variety of activities for all ages, plus children’s programs that give parents a chance to relax and unwind. Cruise Lines International Association forecasts 24 million vacationers will cruise the world’s waterways in 2016, 1 million more than last year. Experienced travel agents can help first-time cruisers identify the cruise line, ship and itinerary that best suits their family.
For more information call (858) 459-4074 or visit www.carefreevacations.com.