CHICAGO, March 4, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With parents feeling the tug to stay connected to the office and kids sporting permanent ear buds and glued to music, movies or games, Orbitz is encouraging families to be proactive this Spring Break and book experiential activities that the whole family can do together to supplement the traditional time spent lounging by the pool or shopping in the city. And based on the results of a recent consumer survey about Spring Break travel preferences, it appears families are looking for such opportunities.
As much of the country thinks about unthawing from the coldest winter in recent memory and finalizes Spring Break travel plans, the Orbitz Insider Index identified several categories of activities families would prefer to experience together to enrich their overall holiday, provide for quality family time, and get the most of their travel experience. Experts think that is a good idea.
"Over the past 15 years, the advent of new communication technologies has caused a decline in "real" connections within families. When we are on vacation it is easy for us to trick ourselves into thinking we are connecting with family and friends because we have gotten on an airplane, checked into a hotel and are sharing a physical space," said Dr. Jeanine Turner, Associate Professor of Communication, Culture and Technology at Georgetown University. "Vacations can be a wonderful way to unplug and connect, but the critical thing is to share an activity together that creates a memory of experiences."
Dr. Turner isn't alone in her assessment. Orbitz surveyed spring travelers to learn what attractions were the biggest draw when on a family vacation if budget was not a factor:
|Top Family Activity Categories for Spring Break1|
||Percentage of Response|
|Aquatic Activity (i.e. swim with dolphins)
|Cultural Activity to learn about an area's history
|Educational Activity (i.e. tour of NASA)
|Learn a new sport
1Survey was fielded by Orbitz to 502 leisure travelers via Google Consumer Surveys from Feb. 17 – 19, 2014.
"With the ability to book a variety of affordable activities for family vacations on Orbitz.com, approximately 30 percent of our travelers have added activities to their spring trips and are able to take advantage of a care-free vacation knowing that their itineraries are set before they even leave home," said Barb Peterson, Activities Expert for Orbitz.com. "Some activities could be the primary reason for visiting a particular location, and those that have space or time constraints often sell out quickly. You can ensure your family has plenty of memorable experiences by booking early and taking advantage of online deals."
With family time being the goal of many vacations, and students typically asked how they spent their time away from school, enriching activities offer an opportunity to bond as well as expand travelers' overall knowledge of a given destination. For families looking for experiences without breaking the bank, Orbitz suggests the following activities:
Atlantis Dolphin Cay Experience – Nassau, Bahamas:
Swim along and play with beautiful Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in this state-of-the-art habitat. Discover how swimming with dolphins has been redefined, whether you share in their playful shallow water antics or experience their speed and agility in deeper waters. Cost: $136 for adults, $106 for children
Be Maya Experience – Chichen Itza, Mexico (originates in Cancun):
Experience a unique and immersive day of Mayan culture – a truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure into the heart of the Maya spirit and way of life. So much more than a tour, the Be Maya Experience allows travelers to cook a traditional Mayan dish, participate in a traditional Mayan spirituality ceremony and grants access to Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site one of the most spectacular remnants of early civilization in the Western Hemisphere. Cost: $140 for adults, $91.50 for children
Ultimate Space Experience – Cape Canaveral, Florida (originates in Orlando):
This is the ultimate experience for unleashing your inner astronaut. Have lunch with an Astronaut, see NASA up-close on a specialty tour as well as visit the Saturn V Center and ride the Shuttle Launch Experience – this activity is a must-do for any Space Buff! Cost: $159 for adults, $129 for children
Hawaii Surf School – Maui, Hawaii:
Enjoyed by early Hawaiian royalty, surfing has grown from a casual beachside activity to an international phenomenon. Experience this "sport of kings" for yourself at the Hawaiian Style Surf School. You can also choose to learn how to stand-up paddle board and discover how fun it is while enjoying its fitness benefits. Cost: $88.75 per person
Volunteer and be a Junior Ranger – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona:
Volunteer vacations continue to be a popular option for family spring breaks. Junior Rangers help to preserve and protect national parks. Here, families will learn about nature and history, feel like early explorers navigating natural wonders, and take part in environmental clean-up and restoration projects – plenty of praiseworthy experiences to share with friends and family. Cost: All Junior Ranger programs are free of charge
While much of the country has been focused on braving the bitter cold of the latest Polar Vortex, it's clear that the cold is no longer "cool" and warm weather destinations are clearly preferred for 2014 Spring Break travel. Orbitz compiled a list of the top-10 destinations jet-setting families are traveling to, and an overwhelming 90 percent of top destinations are in warm climates – proving that Americans are fleeing the cold and seeking warm weather for their spring vacations.
Costs are reasonable this year with air prices remaining relatively flat and hotel prices up 6 percent year-over-year to the top 10 spring break destinations. Vacation favorites like Las Vegas, New York, and Orlando have all seen increases in airfare; however travelers looking to brush up on their Spanish can save with overall reductions in fares to Latin-American destinations like Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
|Top 10 Spring Break Destinations by Hotel Bookings2|
||Hotel Avg. Daily Rate 2013
||Hotel Avg. Daily Rate 2014
||Avg. Airfare 2013
||Avg. Airfare 2014
|Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
|Riviera Maya, Mexico
|*NOTE: based on travel to Cozumel Airport (CZM)
|Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
|*NOTE: based on travel to Cozumel Airport (CZM)
|Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
2Top 10 Spring Break destinations are based on hotel bookings made on Orbitz.com for travel from March 15, 2014 – April 30, 2014. Average 2014 hotel rates are based on current Orbitz.com pricing for hotel bookings between March 15, 2014 and April 30, 2014. Average 2013 hotel rates and flight prices are based on hotel and air bookings made on Orbitz.com for travel between March 1, 2013 and April 15, 2013.
For more great tips from Dr. Turner on unplugging and connecting with family while on vacation, visit the Orbitz blog.
To help families looking to make the most of their Spring Break trips, Orbitz will give away two experiential vacation packages. Between now and March 12, thrill-seekers can submit a photo of their action-packed vacation for the opportunity to win one of two 'experiential' vacation packages. Winners will receive either a trip to take on the Be Maya experience in Cancun, featuring airfare and hotel accommodations for two at the Moon Palace Golf Resort and Spa, or splash around in the shallows of the Bahamas in Atlantis, with accommodations at the Royal Towers Hotel and an unforgettable dolphin interaction course. To enter and for complete terms click here.
Orbitz.com is a leading travel website that enables consumers to search for and book a broad range of hotels, flights, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages and destination activities. Since launching in June 2001, Orbitz.com has become one of the world's largest online travel sites. Orbitz.com now offers the groundbreaking Orbitz Rewards loyalty program-the only program where customers can earn rewards immediately on flights, hotels and packages, and redeem instantly on tens of thousands of hotels worldwide. Customers can earn up to 5% towards future hotel stays when booking hotels and 1% towards future hotel stays when booking either standalone flights or eligible vacation packages. Orbitz.com is the #1 way to book travel on mobile devices, be it using our apps (get them at www.orbitz.com/mobile) or our smartphone-optimized website (m.orbitz.com), both of which are tailored for smartphones and tablets. The Orbitz app for iPhone is one of only 48 apps out of nearly 900,000 available apps chosen by Apple to be inducted into its App Store Hall of Fame. Orbitz members get exclusive access to Insider Steals hotel deals, promotions and other saving opportunities. Follow Orbitz on Facebook, Twitter and through the Orbitz Travel Blog. Orbitz.com is operated by Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW).
About Orbitz Worldwide
Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW) is a leading global online travel company using technology to transform the way consumers around the world plan and purchase travel. Orbitz Worldwide operates the consumer travel planning sites Orbitz (www.orbitz.com), ebookers (www.ebookers.com), HotelClub (www.hotelclub.com) and CheapTickets (www.cheaptickets.com). Also within the Orbitz Worldwide family, Orbitz Partner Network (www.orbitz.com/OPN) delivers private label travel technology solutions to a broad range of partners including some of the world`s largest airlines and travel agencies, and Orbitz for Business (www.orbitzforbusiness.com) delivers managed travel solutions for companies of all sizes. Orbitz Worldwide makes investor relations information available at investors.orbitz.com.
Marita Hudson Thomas