Vacations making popular stocking stuffers

December 24, 1997

Vacations making popular stocking stuffers


Staff Writer

Getting home for Christmas isn't the only goal of holiday season travelers, according to local travel professionals who say they're seeing more and more vacation travel at this time of year.

Trips - either during the holidays or for some time afterward - have become popular gifts, they say.

The American Automobile Association expects a record 44.5 million people to travel 100 miles or more from home this holiday season.

A 26 percent increase over the past five years, likely propelled by the strong economy, indicates the holidays have become not only a time for getting together with family and friends but also a time for vacationing, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Sharon Perry.


It seems that every year more and more people are choosing to spend the holidays away from home, said Betty Rinn, a travel consultant at Travel Plans Inc. in Hagerstown, who has been helping people plan trips for more than 30 years.

Many tour operators are offering special trips incorporating holiday celebrations - like traditional Christmas dinners, church services and caroling - which have been popular with single people, Rinn said.

A lot of families and couples of all ages are taking vacations over the holidays, too, she said.

Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., ski resorts and cruises continue to be hot holiday picks for both families and adults traveling without kids, Rinn said.

Popular destinations include the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii, she said.

Trips tend to be more expensive around Christmas and New Year's, said Art Richards, owner of Richards World of Travel in Hagerstown.

For example, a three-day cruise departing from Miami on Dec. 26 was priced at $509, Richards said. The same cruise leaving Dec. 12 cost $289, he said. Leaving Jan. 2, 1998, the cruise costs $379.

However, the timing isn't necessarily a matter of choice, according to Richards, who said school and business closings dictate vacation dates for some people.

Many families are starting to look at holiday trips as a gift to each other, he said.

In general, travel has become a popular gift, said Richards, who said he sold more gift certificates this year than ever before.

"Everybody has so many things. Most of us go out and buy what we want when we want it," he said. "Travel is a gift that keeps on giving, so we're seeing a lot of that."

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