Last updated: 10:40 AM ET, Wed March 13 2013

U.S. Travel Spring Survey Finds Family Vacations Create Lasting Memories

Features & Advice | U.S. Travel Association | James Shillinglaw | March 13, 2013

U.S. Travel Spring Survey Finds Family Vacations Create Lasting Memories


The U.S. Travel Association released a new survey, “Family Vacations Create Lasting Memories” by Harris Interactive, which found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that adults say their most vivid childhood recollections are of family vacations. Children surveyed also say they enjoy vacation time with parents and grandparents. The U.S. Travel survey would seem only to reinforce the rise in family and multi-generational travel, particularly after 9/11.

“We assumed there would be a connection between memories and vacations, but it was surprising to learn that some of people's most vivid childhood memories are of family vacations that happened when they were as young as five," said Regina Corso of Harris Interactive, who conducted the poll of more than 2,500 adults and 1,100 youth for the U.S. Travel Association.  

Key findings of the survey include: Most adults surveyed (62 percent) said their earliest memories were of family vacations taken when they were between ages five and 10, and they remember childhood trips more clearly than school events or birthday celebrations. Most children (64 percent) surveyed said they get to see and do things on vacation that they will remember for a long time and that vacations bring their family closer together (53 percent). Children who traveled with their extended family reported that they get to spend quality time with their grandparents (78 percent), they feel closer to them (60 percent), and they like to remember stories about what they did with their grandparents (65 percent).

“These new research findings should encourage parents to plan family trips this spring break and summer as a way to strengthen family bonds for generations," said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel’s president and CEO. “Families that take time to travel together will have stories to share for years to come.” 

The survey provided recommendations when it comes to planning a family vacation, including: When on vacation, do activities as a family. While parents and kids often don't spend quality time together at home and plan separate vacation activities, more than half of children say that vacations are a time to make up for that – and that they get to spend quality time with their parents. Consider including your children's grandparents.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, children are enthusiastic about traveling with their grandparents. More than half the children questioned reported feeling closer to their grandparents after a family vacation together. Families also should something adventurous or try something new. For children, a meaningful vacation is one where they get to do interesting things – and this is more important than where they stay or where they go. More than two-thirds of the children surveyed believe that a family vacation is an opportunity to try activities that they cannot do at home.

“Ask any parent – or kid – and they'll tell you family vacations not only are the best times they have together but create the most lasting memories," said Eileen Ogintz, author of the syndicated column and website and a nationally recognized family travel expert.  “The more you involve the kids in the planning, and the simpler the itinerary, the happier everyone will be.”   

The survey explored the vacation habits of American families and how memories from family vacations are valued, captured and shared. Harris Interactive conducted the online survey in December 2012 on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association. The survey included 2,531 adults and 1,130 youth ages 8-18.  For additional survey results, click on Travel Effect


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