More Floridians will take summer vacation in 2013, survey finds

A recreational vehicle towing a Jeep leaves the rest area near Williston Road to proceed north on Interstate 75 near Gainesville Tuesday.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Su
Published: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 4:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 4:51 p.m.

More Floridians plan to vacation this summer as the recession eases and gasoline prices stabilize.

About 70 percent of Floridians will be boarding cruise ships, taking to the air or packing family vehicles and leaving their homes for at least four days — a 5 percent increase over the number of travelers during summer 2012, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey.

As for shorter trips: 77 percent of Floridians plan on taking at least one leisure trip more than 50 miles from home during the next three months, the survey said.

Dianne McDonald, a travel agency manager for AAA Auto Club Group, said many clients are selecting vacation packages that have something to offer each family member.

The most popular vacation packages she arranges are still cruises, with the most common ones being three-day trips to the Bahamas and four- and five-day jaunts to Mexico.

Florida beach destinations and theme parks both remain popular destinations, she said.

Those beach and sunny theme park destinations, mostly in Florida, also allow families to drive, saving on the cost of travel, she said.

About 10 percent or so of McDonald's clients plan to fly to their vacation destinations.

"People value spending time together…and value vacations," McDonald said.

McDonald said warm cruises and other sunny, beach destinations are popular because they tend to offer something each member of the family can enjoy.

And while economic stresses have eased somewhat, McDonald said vacationers remain cost-conscious and want the most for their money.

Gasoline prices, now at about $3.52 per gallon, do not appear to be keeping families from hitting the open road, McDonald said.

One reason is that gasoline prices, although higher than several years ago, have been stable, she said.

Overall, Floridians put a high premium on their vacations, McDonald said. The AAA survey — which polled 1,212 people in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee about their travel plans — suggests McDonald is correct.

Of those surveyed, 62 percent said travel was "very important" to their well-being. The top three reasons Florida residents think travel is important is because it creates experiences, lets them recharge, and allows for family time.

The top three vacation destinations for Florida travelers this year are city destinations, beach getaways and trips to theme parks/attractions.

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