ESCANABA - Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District spring break starts this weekend, and that means many area families will be hitting the road.
Parents with children of all ages are traveling for the break, according to AnnMarie VandeWiele, the owner of Travel Connections in Escanaba. Some parents have created a family tradition of traveling yearly, and others are using the opportunity to celebrate the fact their children are high school seniors.
Some families left a few days early for their spring break vacations this year, explained VandeWiele, because travel costs tend to be lower during week than on a weekend day.
Ilsa Matthes Daily Press
Kathy Boucher, left, and AnnMarie VandeWiele of Travel Connections review travel brochures. Even though the area has experienced unseasonably warm weather this spring, many residents are traveling to warmer climates for spring break.
"It's kind of hard, because the schools don't necessarily always allow that," she said. "They do have pretty strong policies as far as attendance."
Most spring break trips are booked around September or October, but some travelers book even earlier to ensure the best price.
"If you're booking for spring break in November or December, you're a little late," cautions VandeWiele.
One noticeable booking trend is the shift from online booking to travel agencies, she said, noting some travelers are beginning to come back. VandaWiele warns that online travel agents are just like local travel agents, except they are not located nearby, and may not be able to provide the same services.
"It's not smart, really, to trust your money to go to an online booking agent who is just another travel agent somewhere else," she says.
Because of economic constraints, there is more travel within the U.S. and Canada than in the past, explained VandaWiele. Trips to California, particularly trips to San Diego, are popular this year. Many families, especially large families, are choosing to drive to their destinations to save money.
For those travelers who want to leave the country, VandeWiele recommends looking for all-inclusive packages. All-inclusive packages include hotel costs, airfare, food, and events. In the U.S. all-inclusive packages are extremely rare, but there are some packages for U.S. destinations that have included perks, such as free buffets.
Right now, there is a tendency among travelers to avoid the Pacific side of Mexico because of traveler warnings issued there. "People shouldn't always believe everything they think they've heard second hand. Do the research yourself," warns VandeWiele. "Know you're facts, and trust your travel agent."
She also urges international travelers to mind their "P's and Q's" and practice traveler safety.
"I always recommendM, always, and I don't care if it's an adult or not, buddy up if you're traveling" she said. "Always travel together."
More than anything, VandeWiele encourages people to take the opportunity to travel. "These are trips of a lifetime. Take your kids. Take them. Even if it's only in the Upper Peninsula, or to Mackinaw Island, or Door County," she says.