Self-drive operator adds Charlotte to portfolio

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- This city is the newest destination for Traveling America, which offers two- and three-night Break Away packages to more than 80 destinations in 33 states.

The company, whose drive-travel products are based on clients driving their own cars -- and which pays 13% commission -- launched a series of 24 Charlotte packages.

Each plan has a different theme, ranging from golf and auto racing tours to gardens and African-American heritage programs.

"Charlotte's a terrific, contemporary city that has a wonderful heritage," said Maree Forbes, Traveling America's CEO. "For example, it has great Revolutionary War attractions."

Traveling America features three packages with a Revolutionary War theme.

The two-night Join the Revolution package, for example, includes visits to Latta Plantation, a farm dating from the 1800s; Historic Brattonville, a preserved Scots-Irish settlement in South Carolina; the Museum of the Waxhawa, a regional history museum; and three state and national parks.

Another itinerary, the three-night Historic Homes of Charlotte, features the Duke Mansion; the Trolley Museum; the Charlotte Museum of History; the Hezekiah Alexander Homesite (which dates to shortly after the city's founding in 1752); the James K. Polk Memorial Site, the reconstructed home of the 11th president; and a walking tour of the Fourth Ward, a revitalized Victorian neighborhood.

Traveling America's packages include accommodations, breakfast, hotel parking, attraction admissions, taxes and a personal travel portfolio that features a detailed itinerary, driving directions, maps, brochures and vouchers.

Many hotels used by the company on its programs are Historic Hotels of America properties.

"The packages give travel agents the ability to tap into the drive-travel market," said Forbes. "They've no need to spend time researching a destination."

Prices for the Historic Homes tour start at $349 per person, double; Join the Revolution is priced from $159.

Rates on other North Carolina programs range from $89 for the two-night Byways and Backcountry itinerary to $369 for the Showtime tour, which includes theater, art galleries, museums, and historical homes.

Forbes said the firm's average booking is $1,100 -- some clients combine packages -- and that 25% of business comes from travel agents.

Traveling America was launched in early 1998 with 10 Virginia packages and a handful of plans for the Carolinas. Besides Charlotte, other recent package additions include five West Virginia plans and six for the Virginia Tidewater area.

For more information, call Traveling America at (877) 782-2045 or visit www.travelingamerica.com.

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