BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – International travel is booming this year. According to AAA booking data, Americans are planning twice as many trips outside of the country as a year ago, and international hotel reservations are up 300% over last year.
“Clearly, people are excited to see the world, but it’s important to make your plans well in advance,” AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde said. “Missing one or two important details can really throw a wrench into an otherwise pleasant journey.”
Europe and Canada top the list for international travel this year, with London, Rome, Paris, Dublin and Barcelona taking center stage. Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary are the most popular Canadian destinations.
Planning for international travel
- Start early. Apply for your passport right away – with pandemic-related backlogs, you could be waiting anywhere from 10 to 13 weeks for the regular approval process, and 7 to 9 weeks for expedited service. Some countries require current passports to be valid for six months beyond your departure date from the U.S., and some countries might also require a travel visa. AAA members get exclusive rates on expediting services for passports and visas with RushMyPassport.
- Dream big, then get specific. Make a list of bucket list destinations and can’t-miss activities, but also set your priorities – is your main focus on family time? Staying within a budget? Having a less “typical” experience? Connecting with the local community? Share your goals with an expert travel agent. If you need help brainstorming, check out Trip Canvas, AAA’s free online travel tool.
- Consider a guided tour. If you’re new to international travel, or if it’s been a while, guided tours are a great way to explore without the stress of planning daily itineraries.
- Get off the beaten path. If you’ve already visited most of Europe, consider a small group tour to a destination like Antarctica, Costa Rica, Iceland, Peru, Morocco, or Vietnam.
- Sail in style. Cruises are a great way to see the world – and your hotel travels with you! Northern Europe, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean are among the most popular cruise destinations this year. With a variety of cruise lines and experiences to choose from, there’s a perfect sailing for everyone.
- Drive safely. Many countries require an International Driving Permit to legally drive. AAA is one of two private entities that are authorized by the State Department to issue these permits. Remember that traffic patterns, signage and laws can vary by country.
- Buy travel insurance. Ask a travel agent to help you determine the coverage you’ll need, and whether your personal health coverage will be primary or secondary.
- Be flexible. Traveling during the offseason or flying midweek can mean better deals and fewer crowds.
- Enroll in STEP. Once you book your vacation, enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to notify them of your trip. That way, you can receive alerts to notify you of any unrest or other advisories related to your destination.
“Notify your credit card company of your international travel plans and ask about any ATM or foreign transaction fees. Bring a copy of your passport with you while the physical document is safely stored at the hotel. And if you’re traveling with a loved one or close friend, split your clothing into two bags and divvy up your quantity of foreign currency to reduce the risk of loss,” Conde said. “But most importantly, rely on the expertise of a travel agent. They have plenty of tips to make your journey safe and memorable.”