The AAA Companion
November | December 2004
Volume 78 Issue 6
Travel Tips & Trends
Update Florida: Sunshine
State shows that it cleans up well
Most people are well aware of how hard hit Florida was in August and September. Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne...names that now send shivers down the trunks of palm trees throughout the state. The last time one state had to deal with four hurricanes in one season was Texas in 1886. And the hurricane season isn't officially over until November 30.
What's nearly worse than the actual damage, though, is the perception that Florida is closed for
The Florida Commission on Tourism was so concerned that in late September it asked the governor for $30 million in emergency funds to counter negative perceptions, and to let visitors know that Florida's tourism industry suffered only minimal damage.
This November/December EnCompass cover feature is on Florida's Gulf Coast — specifically the Lee Island Coast. While the story was planned and written before the 2004 hurricane season began, EnCompass editors have confirmed — both with Florida officials and locals — that the article's descriptions are still fair and accurate reflections of what tourists will find when visiting the Lee Island Coast.
For those who have booked — or are thinking of booking — Florida vacations (land or cruise ship) with AAA Travel, rest assured that AAA has been working to confirm the status of amenities, attractions and beaches throughout the state. Contact a AAA Travel professional to find out the most current details, as well as to learn about any discounts or special travel deals being offered to attract tourists back to Florida. Other resources: Florida's consumer website, www.visitflorida.com; the National Weather Service's website, www.weather.gov.
One thing to keep in mind: Florida is still — and will always be — a great vacation destination.
This card opens doors
It's Friday evening and you and your family have just discovered the hotel you thought would have plenty of rooms is all booked up. In fact, it seems like many of the accommodations at your weekend destination are taken. The local chamber of commerce is closed, and the hotel desk staff is too busy to help you find a room.
For AAA members that's not a big problem. On the back of your membership card is a "hotel reservations and discounts" number, 866-AAA-SAVE (866-222-7283). Operators are available 24-7 to help you find a room in any domestic destination.
Third AAA Travel Challenge offers college scholarships
Originally slated as a one-time event to coincide with AAA's centennial celebration, the AAA Travel High School Challenge has been so well received in its first two years that it is being repeated in 2005.
The contest aims to help improve travel destination knowledge and build awareness of career opportunities in the travel and tourism industry for 9th-12th grade public, private and home-schooled students. More than just a geography competition, the contest tests students' travel literacy and knowledge of popular destinations for vacation travelers worldwide.
The three-phase competition kicks off in January with a national internet-based contest. The top five scorers in each state and Washington, D.C., will advance to the state competition, which consists of a proctored, written exam in March. The top scorer in each state and Washington, D.C., will advance to the national finals in Orlando, Florida, scheduled in May.
State champions and their chaperones will receive an expense-paid trip to attend the national competition at Universal Orlando theme park. The finals weekend starts with a proctored, written exam that narrows the field to a dozen semifinalists who then compete as teams of three in a game show-style final. Members of the winning team each receive a $25,000 scholarship, and each member of the runner-up team wins a $10,000 scholarship.
Founding sponsors, Continental Airlines, Holland America Line, Marriott International, MBNA America, Pleasant Holidays and Universal Orlando have renewed their partnership support for a third consecutive year.
Parents, students and teachers can find more information at www.aaa.com/TravelChallenge.
Where are you thinking of going?
Every day, many of AAA Colorado's members visit www.aaa.com to research and book hotel rooms, car rentals, destination information and airline flights. The following are the top 10 domestic destinations researched in September:
2. Las Vegas
3. Colo. Springs
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Los Angeles
9. Santa Fe
Did You Know?
More than a map, it's a travel planning tool
Even though AAA's Internet TripTik has been declared a "top choice" by the Wall Street Journal and "the most useful of all" by the Washington Post, it is still, in some cases, under utilized by members, or not fully understood as to the true extent of its capabilities and functions.
The critical difference between AAA's Internet TripTik and products by online mapping services is that an Internet TripTik is more than just a map — showing directions from point A to point B — it is a comprehensive travel planning tool. AAA's Internet TripTik can:
For a quick, easy and fun way of discovering just how an Internet TripTik does all this — and more — go to www.aaamaps.com and click on "See Demo."
- Indicate the most recent highway construction, road closures and detours
- Display mapping details for any spot along the route
- Highlight events, attractions and other points of interest
- Offer extensive information on numerous and varied accommodations-with the ability to book your choice online (often with AAA discounts)
- Provide a wide array of restaurant options
- Identify all AAA Show Your Card
& Save partners, where members receive discounts
- Pinpoint all AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities
Standing behind each Internet TripTik are the comprehensive and reliable AAA TourBooks and maps that the motoring public has utilized for more than 100 years.
Shopping for a cruise? Try AAA — in person or online
Although most Americans have never taken a cruise, it remains one of the top items on nearly everyone's travel wish list. Catering to this ever-growing market is an incredibly diverse, world-wide range of cruise options, from intimate luxury liners to amenity-filled mega-ships, from working-the-rigging, four-masted schooners to pamper-yourself yachts.
Where to begin? How to choose?
Colorado AAA Travel has more than 40 travel professionals who are knowledgeable about the myriad of cruise options. They can match your budget, interests and lifestyle to a particular ship and cruise itinerary. Visit any Colorado AAA Travel office or call 866-235-7070.
If the internet is more your style of research, AAA Colorado has recently added to its website a cruise booking search engine that can help you determine which cruise is best for you. Go to www.aaa.com and click on "Cruises" in the left navigational menu, or "Cruise Finder" in the "Quick Travel Planner" in the upper right corner.
Colorado ski areas grab 6 spots on top 10
AAA members already know it, and it's once again confirmed throughout the country: Colorado has the lion's share of North America's great ski areas. In a recent poll by Ski magazine, readers ranked 11 of Colorado's ski areas in the top 20 best places in North America to hit the slopes. Six Colorado areas made the top 10:
2. Deer Valley, Utah
4. Beaver Creek
7. Aspen Mountain
8. Park City, Utah
9. Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
For more information on Colorado's ski areas, contact your local AAA Travel professional, or try Colorado Ski Country USA, 303-837-0793, www.coloradoski.com.
AAA Colorado has 41 travel professionals and 46 auto travel counselors in 15 district offices around the state, making it one of the largest leisure travel agencies in Colorado. Each AAA Colorado office offers a full range of travel planning and booking services, as well as AAA TourBooks, maps and TripTiks. AAA offices also have travel stores that contain guidebooks, atlases, luggage and other travel-related items.
To plan your next trip: visit your local AAA travel professional, call 866-235-7070, click on www.aaa.com, or see the various vacation packages and special events (such as cruise seminars).
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