Editors: B-roll of popular European travel destinations, Canadian travel, and international cruising is available for your use.
International trips are on the rise this year, with bookings for travel outside the U.S. skyrocketing by more than 200% compared to 2022, according to new booking data from the Automobile Club of Southern California. Hotel bookings are seeing the biggest jump, up more than 300% over last year. The spike in demand is driving up airfares as well. Airline ticket prices for international trips are up more than 30%.
Europe and Canada are the most popular international destinations, per AAA’s data. London tops the list, with a nearly 350% increase over last year. Rome, Paris, Dublin, and Barcelona are other European hot spots. Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary are the most popular Canadian destinations.
“Travelers are making up for lost time and they are willing to spend more to see the world,” said Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president of travel products. “If you do your homework and rely on travel experts, like AAA travel advisors, there are deals to be had. But the key is giving yourself plenty of time to plan ahead.”
That’s why the Auto Club is hosting two upcoming travel expos to allow would-be travelers to learn about exciting destinations around the world and get inspired to plan their next great adventure. The Auto Club’s Spring Travel Expos will feature:
- Informative travel presentations
- Exclusive Auto Club member benefits and savings
- Free passport photos and processing resources
- AAA Travel Advisor assistance to help with vacation planning
- Food trucks
- Raffle prizes
There are two locations and dates to choose from:
Saturday, April 22
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Auto Club Administrative Offices
3333 Fairview Road
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Sunday, April 30
Noon to 3:00 p.m.
Historic Auto Club Building
Los Angeles, CA 90007
10 Tips to Prepare for International Travel
1. PRIORITIZE YOUR PASSPORT
You can’t travel internationally without a passport. If you don’t have one, apply ASAP! The U.S. Department of State issues passports, and routine service normally takes 8 to 11 weeks. But pandemic-related application backlogs coupled with a surge in travel demand are leading to longer wait times, anywhere from 10 to 13 weeks. Even some expedited services are seeing delays of about 7 to 9 weeks. If you already have a passport, check the expiration date. Some countries require passports be valid for six months beyond your departure date from the United States. Your destination might also require a travel visa. To give you peace of mind, work with a travel advisor who can ensure you’re not missing any steps.
2. DON’T KNOW WHERE TO VISIT? START HERE
Choosing an international destination can seem daunting. One way to get inspired is by browsing trending destinations or curated trips on Trip Canvas, AAA’s free online travel tool for dreaming, planning, and booking trips. Or turn to AAA travel advisors in person, online, or by phone to brainstorm ideas and create itineraries.
3. FOLLOW THE LEADER
First-time travelers – or people who haven’t been abroad in years – greatly benefit from guided tours, where an expert is the one leading the way. Guided tours are a great way to explore the world without the stress of planning daily itineraries. According to AAA Member Choice Vacations, the most popular tours for new travelers are London & Paris, British Landscapes, and Ireland.
4. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT? TRY THIS
For travelers who’ve already checked Europe off their list and are craving something different, trips focused on adventure and local culture are rising in popularity. Club Adventures by AAA, which focuses on small group tours, says Antarctica, Costa Rica, Iceland, Peru, Morocco, and Vietnam are destinations in high demand. They say more travelers are seeking authenticity and connection on their international trips.
5. UNPACK ONCE, SEE THE WORLD
Travelers wanting to experience multiple destinations without staying at multiple hotels are booking cruises. This year, cruising is in high demand. AAA booking data shows cruises departing from international destinations are up 30% compared to 2022. Cruises sailing in Northern Europe, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean are among the most popular. European river cruises and ships sailing in the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia are also high on the list.
6. RENTING A CAR? YOU’LL NEED THIS
Many countries require an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive legally. An IDP is a valid form of identification that includes your name, photo, and driver information. Even if a country doesn’t require an IDP, your rental car company might. An IDP must be issued in the same country as the driver’s license of the traveler and may not be issued more than six months before the desired effective date. AAA is one of only two private entities in the U.S. authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue an IDP. Visit your local AAA branch to obtain one.
7. PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT
Travel insurance is always a good idea but even more so if you’re traveling internationally. Protecting your trip is highly recommended in case of trip delay, expenses incurred from missed flights, lost luggage, or medical expenses due to illness or injury. The best way to determine what type of coverage you need is by reaching out to a trusted travel advisor, like a AAA Travel Advisor. That person will help you choose the right plan to gain a clear understanding as to which policy (your personal health coverage or your travel insurance company’s coverage) is primary or secondary. It’s important to know how much coverage the policy offers and what is and is not covered.
8. WAYS TO SAVE
One of the best ways to save money on international travel is to be flexible with your dates. Traveling during the off-season can mean better deals and fewer crowds. For example, going to Europe in October or February can save you money on airfare and lodging. Another way to spend less is flying on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Mid-week flights tend to be cheaper, as many airlines add weekend surcharges. When booking a hotel, try to avoid properties in the city center, which tend to be pricier. Also, find out how much the hotel charges in resort fees, parking, and internet because all of that adds up.
9. ENROLL IN STEP
Download the State Department’s Smart Traveler app for detailed information regarding countries around the world and up-to-date travel advisories. While you’re on the app or on the State Department website, enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) to notify the State Department of your trip, so they can alert you of any unrest or advisories at your destination.
10. TAKE IT FROM THE PROS
AAA Diamonds Inspectors know a thing or two about travel. They log thousands of miles every year, inspecting hotels and restaurants, verifying the 4Cs of AAA Diamonds: Cleanliness, Comfort, Cuisine, and Consistency. Here are some pro tips from AAA Inspectors on international travel.
- “Notify your credit card company of your trip and check foreign transaction fees. Use ATMs instead of exchange houses and always choose local currency if given the choice with credit card transactions.”
- “Take a photo or make a copy of your passport and keep that with you. Secure your physical passport in the hotel safe while you’re sightseeing.”
- “If traveling with a significant other or close friend, split your clothes into two bags, so if one suitcase is delayed or lost, you both have clothing. If traveling alone, put a few clothing items in your carry-on.”
- “Put a large paper with your name, address, and contact information inside the front pocket of your checked suitcase in case your luggage tag is removed or falls off. This will give you a better chance of having your bag returned to you.”
- ”If you’re checking a suitcase and carrying on a roller bag, put the heaviest items in your carry-on. That way, you avoid paying an overweight fee on your suitcase, and if the airline forces you to check your carry-on anyway because there’s no overhead bin space, you won’t have to pay a checked bag fee either.”
- “Compression socks for the long flight. are specialized socks that apply gentle pressure to your legs and ankles. They can help improve blood flow from your legs to your heart.
- “Make sure you know how you are going to get to the hotel from the airport once you arrive, and if possible, arrange your transportation ahead of time.”
- “Divide your cash into separate purses or pockets. In the unlikely event you are robbed, all your money won’t be taken.”
- “To help with jet lag: Avoid caffeine and alcohol on the flight. If it’s daylight when you arrive, stay outside as much as possible to get natural light exposure. Avoid naps and try to stay awake until a normal sleeping hour at your destination.”
Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, and financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of more than 63 million members across North America, including more than 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com