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AAA Releases Top Travel Trends For 2016

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Travel experts predict voluntourism, cultural immersion, on-board cruise activities, and extended family member adventures to pique travelers’ interests this year.

“In 2016, travelers are looking for vacations that are more culturally immersive and they want to share those experiences with friends and family,” said Lisa Sands, director of travel communications for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “People want bragging rights about the unique places they’re visiting and they want their vacation to feel like it’s uniquely personalized for them. This has led millennials and baby boomers to frequent travel agents, who are experts in their field.”

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Below, AAA compiles four travel trends for 2016:

Multigenerational travel: Today’s extended families are often traveling as one big group. Travel vendors are jumping to entice grandparents to create memories by bringing their kids and grandkids along, too. For example, AmaWaterways offers family-sized cabins and partners with Adventures by Disney so everyone can have an experience they’ll enjoy. Families and groups of friends can often bundle their cabins or hotel rooms together for cost savings and extra amenities, from shipboard credits to complimentary meals.

Cultural immersion: More travelers want an authentic or educational experience. Instead of going to a winery and taking a tour, more people are interested in making wine themselves. When visiting places like Ireland, for example, travelers are opting for accommodations in small bed and breakfasts or ancient castles with modern amenities. Also, more parents are pulling their kids out of school to experience the world’s varied cultures, whether that’s a drive across North America, an immersive experience in South America, or a grand tour of Europe.

On board: While cruising remains a way to take advantage of big savings, some cruisers are more interested in experiencing the offerings of the ship rather than exploring the ports they visit. For example, Royal Caribbean’s new Anthem of the Seas offers bumper cars, flying trapeze lessons, a skydiving simulator, and 18 dining venues. The convenience and cost savings of sailing from nearby ports, including Baltimore and Cape Liberty, add to the allure of cruising for travelers from the Mid-Atlantic region.

Voluntourism: A desire to experience the people and culture of a destination has led to the popularity of a travel segment known as “voluntourism.” Opportunities to contribute range from a partial day experience like Give the Kids the World Village in Orlando to Carnival Corporation’s Fathom program, which offers seven-day cruises to Cuba and the Dominican Republic where volunteers help teach English, build water filters, and participate in other community rehabilitation projects.