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AAA: Travelers are Seeing the World in 2023

Booking data show top destinations include Europe and Canada

passport stamps by Ho John Lee
Photo by Ho John Lee   legalcode

International trips are rising this year. According to AAA booking data, international travel is up more than 200% compared to 2022. Hotel bookings are experiencing the biggest jump, up more than 300% over last year. The spike in demand is also driving up airfares. Ticket prices for international trips are up more than 30%.

“Travelers are making up for lost time and are ready to take that trip of a lifetime to see the world,” said Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. “There are deals to be had but the key is to give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead and work with a trusted travel advisor.”

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 hotspots. Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary are the most popular Canadian destinations.

10 Ways to Prepare for International Travel


The U.S. Department of State issues passports, and routine service normally takes eight 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 seven to nine weeks. For peace of mind, work with a travel advisor who can ensure no steps are missed. AAA members get exclusive rates on expediting services for U.S. passports and global travel visas with RushMyPassport.


One of the best ways to save money on international travel is to be flexible. Traveling during the offseason can mean better deals and fewer crowds. For example, going to Europe in October or February can save on airfare and lodging. Another way to spend less is by flying on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Midweek 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. It all of that adds up!


Travelers wanting to experience multiple destinations without staying at multiple hotels are booking cruises. This year, cruising is in high demand. AAA booking data show 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.


Download the State Department’s Smart Traveler app for detailed information regarding countries around the world and up-to-date travel advisories. While on the app or on the State Department website, enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) to notify the State Department of a planned trip, so they can send alerts regarding any advisories at scheduled destinations.


Many countries require an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive legally. An IDP is a valid form of identification that includes the traveler’s name, photo and driver information. Even if a country doesn’t require an IDP, rental-car companies 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.


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.


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.


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, said Antarctica, Costa Rica, Iceland, Peru, Morocco and Vietnam are destinations in high demand.


Travel insurance is always a good idea but even more so if traveling internationally. Protecting a trip is highly recommended in case of delays, expenses incurred from missed flights, lost luggage or medical expenses due to illness or injury. The best way to determine what type of coverage is needed is by reaching out to a trusted travel advisor. That person will help choose the right plan to gain a clear understanding as to which policy (personal health coverage or 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.


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 credit card companies of travel plans 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 a 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 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 a carry-on.
  • 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.
  • 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.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 70 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.  News 

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AAA East Central is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.