How a Real-Life Calico Became AAA’s Newest Mascot

How a Real-Life Calico Became AAA’s Newest Mascot

Meet AAA’s newest—and furriest—member, KeeKee the cat, your go-to source for family travel.

Illustration of cat waving with AAA flag

Shannon Jones was just 9 years old when she started traveling regularly. She was soon bitten by the travel bug—hardly surprising, considering her family. “My mom was a flight attendant, and that was life-changing for me,” says Jones.

Fast forward a few decades. Jones is now a busy children’s book author and founder of a family travel entertainment brand, KeeKee’s Big Adventures.

The star of those illustrated adventures is KeeKee, a traveling cat. The original KeeKee, a real-life calico, moved with Jones from Seattle to the Netherlands in 2006 and inspired the author to fictionalize the cat’s adventures through a five-book series set in Amsterdam, London, Athens, Rome and Paris.

“In the grand literary tradition of adorable animal characters who introduce enthralled kids to fun spots comes one particularly intrepid calico who stars in her own picture book series, Kee Kee’s Big Adventures,” says Jones.

It’s that fun, family-centered travel connection that put Jones on AAA’s radar, leading to her affiliation with the brand and its new Family Travel Specialist certification for travel agents.

The certification gives agents tools to help families choose their favorite vacation destinations and then develop a long-term plan for visiting those destinations.

There’s also a special focus on the youngest members of the family, who will learn about the joys of travel through KeeKee’s adventures.

A calico cat

In the children’s book series KeeKee’s Big Adventures, Jones shares the allure of seeing the world with the whole family. In addition to the book, there’s also a website, the Family Travel podcast, games, activities and the KeeKee Club, all featuring a certain lovable feline.

Why the partnership between an iconic brand like AAA and a nascent enterprise like the one Jones has built? It’s all about travel.

“There’s a great opportunity for our members who have families with young children to make a bigger connection between their AAA membership and travel itself,” says Brenda Hunsberger, AAA’s senior VP of Travel Services. The ongoing pandemic, which has forever changed the travel industry, among countless others, “has in many ways made it more apparent how important it is to spend time with the people we love.”

Illustration of KeeKee the cat and her family planning travel

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How a Real-Life Calico Became AAA’s Newest Mascot