AAA: Americans are loving international travel

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In what appears to be a growing trend, one-quarter of Americans plan to take an international vacation over the next 18 months, according to a recent AAA Travel survey. Moreover, 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.

“Americans’ wanderlust is expanding far beyond the domestic shores,” says Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. “International vacations offer a totally different experience and can create lifetime memories for families.”

AAA’s survey revealed that while 80% of Americans have taken at least one vacation outside the United States, 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. For a fee, 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.

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

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.

For more information or to start planning a trip, visit

Survey Methodology

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.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 79 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. News releases are available at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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