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Rome Reigns Supreme as Americans' Top Choice for International Travel

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 10/18/2019 Mia Taylor
a large stone building: Colosseum with clear blue sky and clouds in Rome, Italy © Nicola Forenza/iStock/Getty Images Plus Colosseum with clear blue sky and clouds in Rome, Italy

While it’s hardly any secret that Americans love international travel (and what’s not to love right?) new data from AAA reveals exactly which destinations abroad will be most popular in the coming year.

The ever-popular city of Rome, Italy tops the list of international travel bookings for the next 18 months, said AAA.

Additional popular destinations in the top 10 for the next 18 months include, in order, Cancun, Mexico; London, England; Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Munich, Germany and Barcelona, Spain.

The new AAA data also reveals that one-quarter of Americans plan to take an international vacation over the next 18 months. In addition, most travelers will hit the road in search of unique experiences, reaffirming a trend that has been growing for a few years now.

“More and more travelers are looking for experiential travel opportunities and seeking ways to intimately engage with their destination, whether at home or abroad,” Paula Twidale, Vice President, AAA Travel, said in a statement. “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 percent of Americans have taken at least one vacation outside the United States, and two in five of those, or nearly 77 million adults, have rented or used a personal vehicle while doing so.

Further supporting this finding, AAA reports a 33 percent 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, suggested AAA.

It’s also important to note that while more than 150 countries accept IDPs many countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses without an accompanying IDP. It is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most places, said AAA.

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.”

AAA also noted in its release that while millions of Americans are making plans to travel internationally this year and next, those who will not are held back in many cases by the expense.

“A trip out of the country doesn’t have to break your bank,” said Twidale. “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.”

The new data release from AAA also touched upon the potential impact of Brexit for travelers.

With the United Kingdom being AAA’s third-most-popular international travel destination, it’s 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, said AAA.

“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,” said AAA.

Travelers should continue to monitor the United Kingdom travel advisory and seek the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent.

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