Get Out of Town

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(percent distribution of adults by type of vacation preferred, 1987, 1990, and 1997)

Source: Roper Starch Worldwide, New York, NY

As the summer season approaches, Americans' thoughts turn to summer vacations. Some pack up with the kids as soon as school is out for a traditional two-week haul in the family minivan. Others fly to the Caribbean for a long weekend. The goal in almost all cases, however, is to get out of town.

Just 11 percent of adults prefer to stay home and relax while on vacation. Another 27 percent want to relax, but at a beach or some locale other than in the backyard. The largest group, 44 percent, wants to get away and do many things. Another group of people is less definite about vacation preferences; 16 percent say the type of vacation they like "depends," presumably because they want different things out of different trips.

And they do want to take different trips. Most people don't want to blow all their vacation time at once. Three in four prefer two or more shorter vacations to one long one, a pattern that hasn't changed during the 1990s. Equal shares say they prefer a couple of shorter vacations or several 3-to-5-day weekend trips to one long vacation, at 37 percent each.

About half of adults (48 percent) have taken a 3-to-5-day weekend trip in the past six months. About one in four (27 percent) have taken two or more such jaunts.

You might think the affluent would prefer a month in Paris to a road trip to Virginia Beach. But they don't have to choose--they do both. Seventy-one percent of adults with household incomes of $75,000 or more have taken at least one vacation trip of five nights or more in the past year, compared with 43 percent of all adults. Seventy-two percent have taken at least one long weekend trip in the past six months, and one in four has taken three or more.

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