More than one-third of Americans plan to take a family vacation in the coming year, according to AAA, and low gas prices have most of them planning road trips.
According to AAA’s survey, 35 percent of people nationwide plan to take a family trip of 50 miles or more within the next 12 months.
The majority of those people, or 69 percent, are planning road trips, which tend to be more economical than other types of vacations.
AAA also predicts 38 million people nationwide – about 700,000 more than a year ago — plan to travel at least 50 miles for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.
That would make it the second-most traveled Memorial Day travel period on record, according to the group, behind the 44 million who traveled in 2005.
The vast majority of those planning trips over the weekend — 34 million, or 89 percent — will travel by car.
Those who hit the road will enjoy gas prices well below where they were last year. Prices at the pumps are at a 12-year low, according to AAA, which tracks prices daily at gas stations across the country.
Just more than half, or 55 percent, of those polled by AAA said affordable gas prices are factoring into their decisions to plan trips this year.
Gas prices remain near historic lows, but they’ve begun an uptick in recent weeks. They also typically tend to rise ahead of major travel holiday weekends, when demand surges, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
On Monday, Connecticut drivers paid an average of $2.42 a gallon for regular gas, up from $2 a month ago but down from $2.85 a year ago. Nationwide, drivers paid an average of $2.28 a gallon, up from $2.13 a month ago but down from $2.73 a year ago.
After road trips, the next most popular destinations this year are expected to be national parks, where 49 percent of travelers plan to head, theme parks (42 percent), international destinations (26 percent) and cruises (19 percent). Some will travel to multiple destinations.
In Connecticut, the most popular destinations are likely to be Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium, Lake Compounce in Bristol, and Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, according to an informal poll at AAA’s eight branches statewide.
Two-thirds of those planning family travel this year said that spending time with loved ones is the most important aspect of their trip.
“Whether it’s a cross-country road trip or a dream vacation to a far-off destination, travel offers busy families an excellent opportunity to share experiences and connect with each other in meaningful ways,” Bill Sutherland, AAA’s senior vice president of travel and publishing, said in a statement.
Road trippers can map out their route in advance, using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner – which offers drivers directions, giving several alternate routes — or stopping in to a AAA office. AAA recommends making frequent stops while driving long distances, stopping about every 100 miles or so in order to stay alert.
Many of those heading to international destinations have their sights set on Rome, London, and Paris because of favorable currency exchange rates, according to AAA. The dollar’s strength makes international travel especially affordable, meaning travelers will get more for their money abroad, according to AAA.
A growing number of vacations will head on cruises, according to AAA. Citing Cruise Lines International Association figures, the group said 24 million vacationers — 1 million more than last year — will take a cruise this year.
For its travel forecast, AAA used data from a telephone survey of 1,002 Americans conducted by market research firm ORC International.