October 18, 2019 – One-quarter of Americans plan to take an international vacation over the next 18 months, according to a recent AAA Travel survey. AAA’s advance travel booking data suggests that many travelers will head to popular European destinations like Rome, London, Dublin and Paris, and warm-weather locales in Mexico and the Caribbean, including Cancun, Montego Bay and Punta Cana, with most travelers in search of unique experiences.
“More and more travelers are looking for experiential travel opportunities and seeking ways to intimately engage with their destination, whether at home or abroad,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “There are many ways to do that, especially with the great American road trip remaining a beloved vacation option and for many, AAA has found that road trips are increasingly appealing to U.S. travelers while overseas.”
AAA’s survey revealed that 80% of Americans have taken at least one vacation outside the United States at some point in their lives, and two in five of those, or nearly 77 million adults, have rented or used a personal vehicle while doing so. Aligning with this finding, AAA reports a 33% increase in International Driving Permits (IDPs) sold in the last five years (through 2018).
An international driving vacation comes with additional planning considerations and paperwork for which travelers need to be prepared. More than 150 countries accept IDPs; many countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses without an accompanying IDP, and it is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most places. An IDP is a legal document that translates U.S. driver’s license information into 10 foreign languages and AAA is one of only two entities authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue IDPs.
“Travelers can easily apply for an International Driving Permit with an application accessible online or in person at AAA, whether they are a member or not,” continued Twidale. “The nominal $20 fee is a small price to pay for peace of mind while traveling overseas.”
Top International Travel Destinations: Book Now for Savings
These are the top international travel destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips over the next 18 months:
- Rome, Italy
- Cancun, Mexico
- London, England
- Dublin, Ireland
- Paris, France
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Munich, Germany
- Barcelona, Spain
“Millions of Americans are making plans to travel internationally this year and next. For those who will not, AAA’s survey found that one of their top concerns is the expense,” said Twidale. “A trip out of the country doesn’t have to break your bank. There are opportunities to save, and now is the ideal time to do so. Many travel suppliers offer early payment incentives to travelers who book and pay for their trips before the end of the year. Travelers who lock in their plans now can take advantage of great cost savings.”
Tips for International Travel
Planning an international vacation can be a daunting task, but AAA Travel experts advise travelers they don’t have to go it alone. AAA recommends these additional tips to prepare for a trip overseas:
- Seek the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent; they can make recommendations and help navigate the myriad options available for international travel, saving time, money and the hassle of planning solo.
- Review the AAA Travel Guides, recently enhanced with additional international destination information, for tips on where to go, how to get around, what to do and see, and what not to miss on vacation.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your vacation investment and ensure a smooth vacation experience.
- Be aware of your surroundings and remain vigilant while traveling internationally. Refer to the U.S. Department of State for detailed recommendations and country-specific information. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which makes it easier for the nearest embassy or consulate to contact U.S. citizens in case of an emergency.
Potential Impact of Brexit
Home to AAA’s third-most popular international travel destination, the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on Oct. 31. It is not clear whether or how tourism to the region will be affected. However, in the event no deal is struck between the governments of the UK and EU, travelers may experience delays at the border when crossing between the UK and other top destinations in Europe. Additionally, if travelers encounter any political protests or demonstrations, the U.S. Department of State cautions travelers to avoid those areas if possible, and to be careful within the vicinity of demonstrations. Travelers should continue to monitor the United Kingdom travel advisory and seek the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent.
For more information or to start planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.
AAA’s international travel findings are the result of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,002 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted from August 22 to 28, 2019. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.1% at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults. Results are weighted by age, gender, region, race/ethnicity and education to be proportionally representative of the U.S. adult population.